DIY: Instructions to Fabricate a Murphy Bed

by Jennifer Harshman
Bed in a door can have many looks

Bed in a door can have many looks

A Murphy bed, also known as a bed-in-a-door, is a space-saving furniture idea that has distinct advantages over conventional furniture. The bed can be folded up out of the way to make room for entertaining, work or hobbies. Fabricate a Murphy bed for a fraction of the cost of a purchased Murphy bed.

Preparation - Lumber

Cut wood to length

Cut two 2 by 4 inch boards to 84 inches (these will be the sides of the bed frame). Cut two 2 by 4 inch boards to 61 inches (these will be the head and foot of the bed frame).

Cut the 2 by 12 board to 61 inches (this will support the head of the bed). Cut the 1 by 6 inch board to 64 inches. Cut each plywood sheet to measure 42 by 64 inches.

Cut the bed's feet from the 2 by 6 inch board. Cut eight pieces 10 inches long.

Sand all of the wood pieces smooth. Wipe dust from wood.

Assembly

Assemble 2 by 4 inch boards to make frame for mattress. The top and bottom boards will sit inside the side boards. Drive two screws into each corner joint. You should have a rectangle out of 2 by 4 boards.

Plywood bottom Murphy bed can be decorated

Position one of the pieces of plywood onto the frame, flush with the top edge. Drive 2-inch screws through the plywood into the 2 by 4 boards every 6 inches around the frame. Position the second piece of plywood and screw into place.

Screw a 1 by 6 inch board to the plywood so that it covers the line where the two pieces of plywood meet. This adds stability and conceals the joint.

Flip the entire piece over, and install the flat (mending) brackets. Space them evenly across the entire width of the bed, and screw into place using 1/2-inch screws.

Screw together two of the eight-inch long 2 by 6 inch boards to make a foot for the bed. Drive four of the 3-inch long screws into the block, turn it over and drive four more screws from the other side. Repeat to make one more (you should have four of those pieces remaining).

Attach the remaining four bed feet to the 2 by 12 inch board. Space equally along the board, with two at the outside edges, and mark their locations with the pencil and straight edge. Drive 3-inch screws through the top of the 2 by 12 inch board, down into the 2 by 6 inch pieces.

Attach the block feet with hinges to the bottom edge of the bed so that when they are in use, they will be flush with the end of the bed. When the bed is folded up, they will hinge down so the feet lie flat against the bed.

Installation

Locate the studs where the bed will be located, and mark their locations.

Move the head support piece (the 2 by 12 with its feet) into place against the wall. Use the large L-brackets to attach the support piece to the studs in the wall. Put 3-inch screws into the studs, 1-inch screws into the 2 by 12 board.

Attach the gate hinges to the support piece. Leave the hinges open.

Lift the bed frame onto the support piece, so that it is up against the wall, sitting on the support. Attach the other side of the hinges to the bed frame with 1/2-inch screws in the plywood and longer screws in the 2 by 4 inch boards.

Place the pins that will hold the bed in its upright position. To do this, drill a hole in each bookshelf near the top, on the side of the bookshelf that is touching the bed. When the bed is folded up, the pins will be put into place, and the bed will remain in its upright position.

Items you will need

  • 4 2 inch by 4 inch by 8 feet boards
  • 1 2 inch by 12 inch by 8 feet board
  • 1 2 inch by 6 inch by 8 feet board
  • 1 1 inch by 6 inch by 8 feet board
  • 2 sheets of 3/4 inch by 4 feet by 8 feet interior grade plywood
  • 10 metal flat brackets (aka mending brackets)
  • 4 4-inch heavy duty gate hinges
  • Box of 3-inch long wood screws
  • Box of 2-inch wood screws
  • Small package of 1-inch wood screws
  • Small package of 1/2-inch wood screws
  • Stain or paint
  • Paint brush
  • 2 cotter pins
  • 2 Sauder brand 5-shelf pre-fab bookshelves, assembled
  • Chop saw
  • Sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Cordless drill and bits
  • 1/8 inch drill bit
  • Phillips screwdriver bit
  • Stud finder
  • Tape measure
  • Straight edge
  • Pencil
  • 4-inch thick memory foam mattress

Tips

  • If using a traditional mattress, use 2 inch by 6 inch boards for the side walls of the bed frame.
  • This is for a queen-sized bed; for other sizes, adjust measurements.
  • Create a framed look (for when the bed is in the stored position), by adding more 1 by 6 boards at the top, bottom and sides.

Warnings

  • Make sure the feet don't stick out when the bed is in use to avoid stubbed toes.
  • Take care when lifting and lowering the bed. Although one person can do it alone, it's safer to have a partner.

References

  • "How to Build Your Own Furniture"; Popular Science; 1976

About the Author

Jennifer Harshman has been a writer since 1990, writing, ghostwriting and editing both offline and online content. Her online articles focus on at-home projects. She writes in several fields, including health, business and do-it-yourself. Harshman has a Bachelor of Arts in education from Greenville College.

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