The headboard is a piece of furniture that attaches to the head of a bed. Its most basic function is to retain the pillow(s) and other bed linens. A headboard may be strictly utilitarian, but frequently has aesthetic value and may be a decorative focus for a bedroom.
A "headboard", "side rails", and "footboard" or "front rail" will complete the bed.
"Headboard only" beds often incorporate a dust ruffle, bed skirt, or valance sheet to hide the bed frame.
Though not truly within the definition of a bed frame, most people include headboards, footboards, and bed rails when speaking of bed frames. Headboards and footboards can be made of wood or metal that is stained, painted, or covered with fabric or leather. Bed rails are usually made of steel angle iron.
While most bed frames are constructed to have a headboard attached to them, they do not usually accommodate footboards, unless you buy a specific type of frame that has attachments at both ends. For beds with headboards and footboards, the frame is made up of bed rails that are attached to the headboard and footboard with slats positioned perpendicular to the bed rails to hold and support the box spring or foundation and mattress.
Bed rails and frames are often attached to the bed post using knock-down fittings. A knock-down fitting enables the bed to be easily dismantled for removal. Primary knock-down fittings for bed rails are as follows:
Pin-and-hook fastener. A mortise or slot is cut vertically in the bedpost. Pins are inserted horizontally in the bed post so that the pins perpendicularly intersect the mortise. For example, if one looked in the mortise, one might see part of one horizontal pin at the bottom of the mortise and a part of a second pin toward the top of the mortise. Hooks are installed at the end of the rail. Usually these hooks are part of a plate that is attached to the rail. The hooks then are inserted into the bed post mortise and hook over the pins.
Plate-and-hook fastener. Instead of pins inserted horizontally into the bedpost, an eye plate (post plate) is installed on the bedpost. The hooks are installed or welded on the bed rail, either as surface mount or recessed. Depending on the hardware, the bedpost may require a mortise in order to allow the hooks to fasten to the plate. This is also referred to as a keyhole fastener, especially if the connector is more of a "plug" than a "hook".
Bed bolts ("through-bolts") are a different means of knock-down connection. A hole is typically drilled through the bedpost. The bolt head is inset and covered with a plug. In the rail, a dowel nut or other type of nut receives the bolt.