Looking to elevate a headboard and give it a little more wow factor. We designed and built this mosaic headboard panel for our hanging daybed. This post covers the tools, materials, and how-to for you to make your own beautiful wood mosaic panel.
Building your own furniture means you get to be creative in how you want pieces to look. We recently rebuilt our hanging daybed and saw an opportunity with the headboards. The last time we built these headboard frames using plywood and created a pattern that mimicked the corners of the frame.
Unfortunately, you can’t find plywood with a Red Grandis veneer, which is the type of wood we used for the bed frame. So rather than having a different wood species than the rest of the hanging bed, we decided to use some offcuts to make our own panel. And if we’re making a panel, why not give it a cool pattern, right?
So here is the step-by-step process for how we made our mosaic headboard panel for the DIY hanging daybed. You can use this same process to also build wood mosaic panels for other furniture projects, too!
Mosaic Headboard Tools & Materials
Below is a list of the tools we used to make the mosaic headboard. There are always multiple methods to achieving the same results on DIY projects, so you can always try a different method and tool. But we’ll share how we utilized each one to build these mosaic headboard panels.
- Tape Measure
- Framing Square
- Bluetooth Headphones
- Table Saw
- Miter Saw and Miter Saw Laser
- Band Saw with 1/2″ 4 TPI Blade
- Trim Router with1/8″ Round Over Bit
- Plunge Router in Router Table with Chamfer Bit
- Random Orbital Sander with 3M Xtract Cubitron II Sandpaper
- Bar Clamps
- Exterior Wood Glue
The sizing and amount of materials will vary a lot depending on your panel design. But below is what we had and utilized for our two panels:
- Design Needed: 432″ of wood length with slight extra needed to cut off edges
- Total Red Grandis scrap pieces: 500″ of length
- (4) 1×2 at 38″ long = 152″ of length
- (8) 1×2 at 39″ long = 312″ of length
- (2) 1×2 at 18″ long = 36″ of length
We used Rubio Monocoat Hybrid Wood Protector in the Black color as the finish for the mosaic headboard panels.
Mosaic Headboard Panels – Build Process
The dimensions and the sizing of these headboard panels all come from our Hanging Daybed DIY plans. You can grab them from our Site Shop or Etsy Shop. However, this same process can be used to make any size headboard panel. You’ll just need to do some planning on the quantity of materials needed. So now let’s dive into this mosaic headboard build process!
Step 1: Cut Panel Frame Pieces
The first thing to do is make the frame pieces for the mosaic headboard panels.
Cut Material To Final Width
Depending on the material bought, you might need to start by cutting it down to width. We had a 4/4 board that was slightly wider than we needed for the frame. So we start by ripping into a couple of strips. Then move the fence in a bit and rip each strip to its final width. This allows both sides on each strip to be cleaned up and ensures you have perfect edges.
Cut Strips To Greater Than Final Length
Next, you’ll want to cut the strips to longer than the final length needed. You want to leave these a little long, so you have extra material for the mitered corners of the frame. We utilize our cross-cut sled on the table saw to cut each the strips into the four pieces we need for each frame. Since these cuts don’t have to be precise, you can quickly mark them out with a tape measure and then chop them up.
Step 2: Cut Mitered Corners For Frame
Now the individual pieces are cut, next is creating the miter on the corners. Most people will opt for cutting mitered corners using a miter saw. It’s a simple process of placing the saw at a 45 degree angle and chopping the individual pieces. Ironically, we don’t trust our miter saw to do this accurately as it has a little give to it. This small give makes it so that sometimes mitered corners don’t fit together perfectly and leave a gap (a small one, but we like to aim for close to perfect). So here’s how we do mitered corners on the table saw.
Cutting A Mitered Corner On A Table Saw
First, we use a wood block with a slot routed into it as a guide with our cross-cut sled. We secure it with a couple of carriage bolts into the T-Track we have and it works pretty well!
Next, we use a speed square to hold the bar at 45 degrees and lock it down. Then we can place the wood pieces against this bar, clamp them down, and cut the first corner. Since this bar is locked in place, we can easily repeat this cut on the rest of the pieces and know that they are all at the same angle.
Then we flip the pieces around to cut the second corner. We start by measuring the piece, marking where the cut will go, and then carefully line that up to the blade and clamp that piece down.
To help ensure the rest of these pieces end up the same dimension, we set up a stop block for them to reference. We find that if you are trying to have a stop block touch a mitered surface, you get more accurate results if you cut the same miter into that stop block. This way you get good face-to-face contact on the surfaces.
We repeat this same process on our longer frame pieces as well with one minor change. After cutting the first corner, we need to figure out how to cut the second corner and have all of the pieces be the same size. Unfortunately, these pieces are longer than our block, so we had to get a little creative with the stop block. We lucked out and the pieces were just about as long as our cross-cut sled. Using a small spacer, we were able to clamp a block to the back side of our sled and use that as our reference surface for these pieces to touch.
We could have angled the table saw blade and done these the same way we did the mitered boxes for our Modern Headboard Build, but this worked out great for these frames.
Step 3: Cut Slots In the Panel Frame Pieces
The last step needed for these frame pieces is to cut a slot in the center of them for the mosaic panel to fit in. This is done easily on the table saw by setting the height and fence so the blade rips through the center of the board. We typically aim for the slot to be about half the depth of the frame.
Rip the center on the first strip. Then flip the board around and repeat the cut without moving the table saw fence, so the cut is perfectly centered. Then repeat this same rip on the rest of the frame pieces. After doing all the pieces, then shift the fence slightly closer to the blade and run both sides through again.
We’d normally repeat this process until the slot is just wide enough to fit the plywood panel, but since we are making these frames first, we will size our panel to fit this slot instead. Ahead of time, we decided to keep our panel a little thicker than the original plywood version. So this specific slot is around ⅜” wide, but it really could have been any number. You want your panel to be 11.4 mm thick? Go for it! That’s the beauty of custom furniture!
Step 4: Create A Panel Design
With the frame pieces done, it’s time to start on the mosaic panel! Start by brainstorming patterns and sketching them out. We love to use Pinterest to get some inspiration for patterns. Simply search for other mosaic headboards or look for patterns to recreate.
If you’re like us and really need to visualize it, then try mocking it up a few different ways. We had a small pile of offcuts, so we tested what 1” versus 2” strips would look like. Then we laid them out like a few of our sketches.
As a landscape architect and engineer, this wasn’t quite enough to have a few pieces laid out. So we modeled up a few of the designs at varying wood widths. You can use free programs like Sketchup to do this and make several iterations quickly.
After that we had our design set!
Step 5: Calculate Material Needed
After you have your mosaic panel design figured out, it’s time to calculate the amount of material you will need to create it. If you modeled the design, then you can use the software to measure and calculate the quantities needed. Otherwise, you’ll need to do a little math to sort out how much you need.
You can buy separate materials to create the mosaic based on your calculations. We personally did not want to buy any extra Red Grandis boards as they were fairly expensive and came very long lengths. So our goal was to evaluate the scrap and offcuts we had from the hanging daybed build to create the headboards.
After some quick math, we found that we had exactly the right amount of scrap materials to create our pattern of choice. Like exactly enough that we could not mess up any of our cuts. It was awesome to not be wasteful, but a little scary to come so close to not having enough. You do whatever works for you whether that’s using scraps or purchasing new material.
Step 6: Cut & Layout Mosaic Headboard Pieces
Now it’s time to start cutting the individual pieces to make the mosaic panel! To make this process easier, bring your frame over to a work table and trace out its size so you have an exact guide to fill and start building the pattern off of. If you trace the inside of the frame, make sure to go back and add the additional depth of the slot to the outside frame. This ensures that you won’t make your mosaic panel too small.
With a reference sketch on hand, start cutting the pieces on the table saw using our cross-cut sled or use a miter saw, if preferred. Since we had exactly enough material to make these panels, we couldn’t afford to mess up one of these cuts, and we’re tried to get as many pieces out of each 2” stick as possible.
If your pattern is angled like ours, then make sure you have enough of the wood overhanging to later cut off and square up the panel.
Consider Wood Tones
Depending on from what part of a tree a board is cut, wood of the each same species can have varying tones. Our Red Grandis wood had two different tones of wood, a light and a darker tone. A finish won’t completely mask the tonal differences, especially lighter color stains and finishes. So if you have different wood tones, then try to intermix these colors together to create an intentional pattern.
We intermixed the wood tones to intentionally alternate. We also needed two panels, so we had to duplicate each piece so the patterns on both panels would match. It takes some careful planning to create mosaic headboards.
We eventually have all the individual pieces cut for both mosaic panels with literally the exact right amount of material. There is just one little gap to fill with an offcut after we trim this panel down to size.
Label The Individual Mosaic Pieces
The most critical thing to do when cutting and laying out your mosaic is to label each piece. You will be picking up each piece to add chamfers, glue, and sand, so they will get moved around and mixed up no matter how careful you are. You’ll thank us later for labeling!
We used a number system with an arrow pointing in the correct direction from the starting piece. We suggest labeling with a fine point sharpie on the side of the pieces. This way it doesn’t get rubbed off and will be hidden when you put it into the frame. If you label it on the top of the panel, then you’ll have to do a lot of sanding and it might still show up in the finish.
Step 7: Add Chamfers To Create Depth (Optional)
Now this next step is totally optional. We found that adding slight chamfers on all the individual mosaic pieces adds this beautiful depth the overall piece. It will create a small shadow line and add dimension to what would otherwise be a flat mosaic. It’s gorgeous even if you don’t add this detail, but we found it to be worth it.
Create Depth Using A Router
Gather all the individual pieces and run add a small chamfer to each side using a router table. We utilized a chamfer bit and set it to take off just a bit of material.
Quick tip. We tried sanding the pieces before chamfering, but it was too difficult to keep these small strips perfectly flat while sanding. So we’ll sand them after the glue up and be careful not to sand through this chamfer.
Step 8: Glue Up The Mosiac Headboard Panel
Once those chamfers are all cleaned up, its time to start gluing the mosaic together. Start by carefully aligning the first two pieces to your guide marks and mark the pieces so you can quickly realign them. Then spread a bead of glue on the end of one piece, realign the marks, and clamp it in place.
Since you want to get all of the glue squeeze out cleaned up before it starts to dry, work in short sections and do just a few boards at a time. It means there will be more waiting time so these panels will take even longer, but it will save you a lot of time cleaning up glue.
We put this together on top of a wooden table, so we had some plastic sheeting laid out to keep us from accidentally gluing our piece to the table. We weren’t really worried about glue squeeze out on the bottom of this piece either because we are going to run the backside through the planer to get it down to its final size later.
From here, it’s just a repetitive process of glue and clamp more pieces in place, then come back and clean up the glue squeeze out.
DIYer Tip – The sharp edge of a little ruler works pretty well to get into the chamfers and scrape out the larger beads of glue, and a wet paper towel takes care of the rest.
Step 9: Cut Final Panel Dimension
Once the panel is all glued together, it’s time to mark out where the panels will need to be cut. Due to the angled nature of our design, we needed to cut off the triangle edges and make it a rectangular panel. Mark out your panel and compare to your layout lines.
With everything marked, bring the mosaic panels over to the table saw. We used our tapering jig make getting a straight edge on these pieces pretty easy. The hardest part is just finding a good way to clamp down on the pieces. This is one of those instances where some double-sided tape would probably come in handy, but we were able to make it work without too much issue.
Once everything is locked down, make your first cut.
Squaring the Panels
Once you have one straight edge, it’s no problem to square up the rest of the panel. We carefully mark the first cut so our diagonal line hits the corner that we want and then bring it back over to the table saw. Using the cross-cut sled with the straight edge against the fence, carefully cut on the line. Then flip the piece over to cross cut the second edge. To make sure that the panel is the right size, first measure the length of the slot on the long frame piece and then subtract ⅛” and transfer that dimension to the board. Then make the cut.
All that’s left is to set the fence and rip the last straight edge so the panel is an ⅛” shorter than the slot in the short frame piece.
Step 10: Plane The Panels (Optional)
Now that the mosaic panels are squared off, they are ready for the planer. It’s optional to run it through the planer. We chose to make our panel width fit the slot size we cut in the frame pieces. It also allows us to get out any warping on the panels that were created from the glue up.
Run the boards through the planer with the chamfered face down to remove the glue residue and flatten the back as we slowly plane them down to their final thickness. As you approach the final thickness, check them against the frame’s slot and make a final skim to get a snug fit.
Step 11: Sand Panels & Inside Face of Frames
Next, it’s time to do some sanding on the panels. Start with sanding the panel’s backside using 80 grit sandpaper. Then water pop between the next grit. Water popping helps the boards absorb finish more evenly and also help you to see if you missed any glue spots. Next, sand the backside and the front mosaic side with 120 grit sandpaper.
Sanding in between the chamfered edges can be difficult, but it’s a critical step so that you don’t have glue spots visible in the finish. To make this easier, you can clamp some sandpaper to a metal ruler and then used its edges to get into the groove.
Sand The Inside Face of The Frame
Next, sand the inside faces of the frame boards up to 120 grit as well. This face will be almost impossible to sand later so it’s best to do it now.
Quick tip: To make this easier and keep your sanding even, clamp the frame pieces together and sand them all at once.
Step 12: Pre-finish The Panel (Optional)
After sanding, you can opt to apply finish to the mosaic panel first. So this step isn’t necessary, but we learned that it’s easier to put on the finish on a mosaic panel prior to inserting it into the frame. You can do it either way. However, applying finish when it’s in the frame can make it hard to get the finish into all the cracks on the edges with the potential to miss small areas.
We utilized Rubio Monocoat’s Hybrid Wood Protector in Black to match the Hanging Daybed. It’s a beautiful, easy exterior finish that holds up and is top quality. Rubio’s products are what we use on all our furniture projects now. Check out our full review and how to apply the product.
It can be challenging to get the Rubio finish into the grooves and chamfers of the mosaic piece. We found that it worked better to saturate the brush and follow all of the groves first. Then come back and brush the main surface.
Make sure to let the mosaic panel fully cure with the finish prior to putting it in the frames.
Step 13: Glue Up Frame and Panels
Once that’s done, you are ready for glue up. Start with a dry fit of each frame to make sure the corners come together. If anything needs to be trimmed down, now is the time. If everything looks good, then put glue on all of the edges. Then press the frames back onto the panel.
Once all four frame pieces are on, we like to grab our strap clamp and corner blocks, and tighten everything down. We don’t glue the inner panel since it is bound to move differently than the frame boards do. It’ll be free to float, but you can always secure it with a trim nail if it rattles.
Finally, clean up any glue squeeze out and then repeat this same process for the second headboard panel. A few hours later, the glue will be set and these panels will be ready to sand.
Step 14: Sand To 80 Grit
While the panel and inside frame have been sanded, now it’s time to sand the rest of the frame. We waited to do this until now to make sure we sand away any glue that may have squeezed out when the frame was glued together. Start by sanding the rest of the frame with 80 grit sandpaper and water popping.
Step 15: Roundover Frame Edges
After sanding the first round, you can round over the edges of the frame with an ⅛” bit using a trim router. This will help keep the edges from splintering and will also feel a lot better to handle every time the headboards get moved around.
How often do you move the headboards you ask? More often than you would think. It’s probably one of our favorite features of the hanging bed!
Step 16: Sand To Final Grit
After rounding over the edges, sand the rest of the frame to 120 grit in preparation for applying finish to the frame. Everything should be fully sanded now.
Step 17: Apply Finish
After sanding, it’s time to apply any of the remaining finish. We used Rubio Monocoat’s Hybrid Wood Protector in Black on the frame and mosaic panel. We loved the way the color turned out on our DIY Modern Platform Bed, though the color does turn out quite a bit darker when using the wood protector. But that’s the price you pay for good UV protection.
Since this piece will be heavily touched, we added 10% hardener to the finish and mixed it up. Then it’s just a matter of brushing it on. All that work you did sanding, and water popping, and cleaning the wood opened up the grain and now it’s going to slowly suck up this finish. After 10 minutes, come back and brush over this piece again with a dry brush. This helps spread around any excess finish and helps push the finish into the grain.
Five minutes later, and you are ready to buff off the excess. This stuff is thick, so our recommendation is to grab a rag and get to work rather than trying to use a buffer.
You can see that the different color wood tones still show through slightly and because we intentionally alternated them, we ended up with a beautiful variation in the mosaic panel.
Tip For Removing Excess Finish
Once all of the finish is down, make sure you don’t have any excess that pools and creates a gummy spot that doesn’t cure right. A great way to prevent this is to grab an air hose and blow it into all of the cracks. This helps force the finish deeper and also blows out any excess. Then you can just come back with your rag and wipe it right up as you buff out the whole piece.
Step 18: Assemble for Hanging Daybed or Other Uses
After the panel is complete and the finish dried, you’re done creating your mosaic headboard panel! Now hop on back over to our Hanging Daybed post to create the headboard supports and attach it to the final hanging bed. Or finish whatever you need to if you’re using the mosaic panel for something else.
These mosaic headboard panels really elevated our hanging daybed when we rebuilt it. It definitely takes a lot more work and a little more skill, but it was so worth it to us. I hope you love the mosaic you created!
More DIY Projects
Now that you know how to make an awesome mosaic panel, it’s time for another project. So check out more of our DIY projects articles for inspiration!
- 15 Amazing Woodworking & DIY Projects With Plans And How-To Instructions
- Hubby How To: DIY Planter Box
- How To Make DIY Floating Shelves – Live Edge Wood Shelves For Kitchen
- Hubby How To – Modern DIY Platform Bed Frame
- Hubby How To – DIY Modern Headboard With Floating Nightstands
Hope you love how these mosaic panels turned as much as we do! Let us know what you think of them or what pattern you would try in the comments below!
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