A headboard is to a queen bed what a sunroof is to a car: It isn't an absolute necessity, but it adds class and functionality, and once you've had one, life seems incomplete without it. Queen headboards come in a variety of styles and materials, but you don't have to buy one. Constructing one is a task that any home handyperson with the right tools can accomplish. Whether you're making your own headboard, adapting one you bought at a garage sale or compensating for a lost hardware package that came with the one you ordered online, you'll need screws to assemble it and to attach it to the bed frame. It's important to size the screws correctly to avoid splitting wood, while ensuring the headboard is stable, doesn't wobble and supports the bed with you in it.
Connecting an Assembled Headboard to the Bed Frame
Bed frames are usually made of metal, and the holes for attaching one to a headboard are predrilled. The headboard may have matching holes, in which case you connect it to the frame with bolts and nuts. The bolts have to be long enough to reach through both the frame and the headboard and extend out about 1/2 inch so you can screw on the nut. Two to three inches is long enough in most cases, but remember to account for two washers, which adds about 1/4 inch of length. The bolts must fit through the holes, which are usually large enough to accommodate 3/8- to 1/2-inch fasteners. Use the widest bolt that will fit.
The headboard may not have predrilled holes, which gives you two options. You can drill bolt holes yourself or you can attach the frame with screws. You'll want extra-strong screws, such as 3/8- to 1/2-inch lag screws, that can support the weight of people sleeping on the bed. Choose screws long enough to sink about three-quarters of the way into the headboard, and be sure to predrill holes for them to avoid splitting the wood when you drive them.
Some bed frames have hooks designed to fit into slots on the headboard, and if your frame is one of these, you don't need screws. Just fit the hooks into the frame, and push down to lock them.
Not all headboards attach to the bed frame -- some are designed to attach to the wall instead. You secure these with screws that you typically drive through the posts or the bottom rail into the wall studs. The screws must be long enough to penetrate the headboard frame and sink about about an inch into the studs. In most cases, 3-inch screws are long enough, but if the headboard frame is thicker than 2 inches, use 3 1/2-inch screws instead.
Constructing a Queen Headboard
When constructing a headboard, you'll be connecting posts and rails to form a frame and attaching slats or a panel to that frame. As a rule of thumb, you should use #8 screws -- as opposed to #6, which are too thin and could snap, or #10, which are too beefy for the job. In general, the screws you use should be long enough to penetrate the piece of wood you are attaching and sink about 3/4 inch into the surface to which you are attaching it. By this standard, a 1 1/2-inch screw is long enough to attach a 3/4-inch board, while you'll need a 2 1/2-inch screw to attach a 1/2-inch board.
You may also have occasion to attach hardware, such as casters, hooks or decorative plates. These parts usually come with their own fasteners, which are usually #6 screws with a length between 3/4 and 1 1/4 inches. If you lose them, any screw that fits through the hole on the hardware and sinks 3/4 inch into the wood is appropriate, as long as the head nestles snugly in the indentation on the metal plate.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.