How to Make a Headboard From Upcycled Leather Belts

See how to turn an assortment of thrift-store belts into a classy ombre headboard.

Learn how to upcycle old leather belts into a beautiful headboard

Photo by: Sam Zachrich

Sam Zachrich

Project Overview

  • Cost: ⚫⚫⚪⚪
  • Skill Level: ⚫⚫⚪⚪
  • Time to Complete: About half a day

Tools

  • strong scissors or shears
  • hot glue
  • nail gun and nails
  • paintbrush

Materials

  • 1/2" plywood
  • 1x3 boards
  • 50 to 100 vintage leather belts
  • wood stain
Collect used belts from friends and/or thrift shops to begin your project

Photo by: Sam Zachrich

Sam Zachrich

Collect belts from friends, your closet, the flea market or purchase them online. Look for all-leather belts, they'll stand up better to wear. Try to find belts that are the same width so you won't have gaps between the rows. We used belts with a lot of texture to add extra interest to the headboard.

Gather your tools and materials, and cut your wood frame to the size your leather belt headboard will need.

Photo by: Sam Zachrich

Sam Zachrich

Source and Cut Wood Frame

Purchase plywood and have it cut to fit the width of your bed. For our bed the wood was cut to 62” x 32”. We also purchased 1x3 boards to make trim around three sides of headboard. The trim will make the final size of the headboard slightly larger than the bed size. You can also have the trim cut to size at the hardware store if you aren’t comfortable with a saw.

Stain the wood of your headboard to match the color of most of your leather belts.

Photo by: Sam Zachrich

Sam Zachrich

Stain the Wood

We chose a warm stain color that matched most of the belts so it would disappear and blend with the belts. Coat the front of the plywood and all the sides of the trim pieces with stain and let dry.

Lay out the design of your leather belts on the headboard.

Photo by: Sam Zachrich

Sam Zachrich

Layout Design

When the plywood is completely dry, lay the belts across the wood to create an eye-catching pattern. We choose to place the lightest belts at the top, working down to the darkest shades of leather at the bottom to create an ombre effect. While laying out the pattern, cut the belts as you go, trimming off the buckles and the rounded ends of each.

Glue the leather belts to your headboard

Photo by: Sam Zachrich

Sam Zachrich

Glue Belts to Plywood

Use a hot glue gun to secure the belts to the plywood. Start at the top and working down from a single line is the easiest way to ensure the belt rows stay level. Press firmly on the belts to make sure they are glued flat. Leave a few ends of the belts unglued near the top. These spaces will later hide screws for mounting the headboard to the wall.

Use a nail gun to fasten the trim around the plywood of your leather belt headboard

Photo by: Sam Zachrich

Sam Zachrich

Fasten Trim to Plywood

Use a nail gun to attach the trim to the plywood. This creates a nice frame around the headboard and will hide the unfinished edges. Only add trim to the top and sides so that the bottom side can sit flush against the mattress and bed.

Use screws to attach the leather belt headboard to the wall.

Photo by: Sam Zachrich

Sam Zachrich

Screw Headboard to Wall

When the trim is attached, place the headboard at the desired position above the bed. Fold back the unglued ends of the belts and drill a 3” deck screw through the headboard and directly into the wall. Be sure to drill into studs and repeat this until the headboard is secure. Then glue the belt ends to the headboard for a finished look to hide the screw heads.

Your leather belt headboard will add great visual interest to your bedroom.

Photo by: Sam Zachrich

Sam Zachrich

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