Posted by: Andrew Reynolds | 06/08/2011

The Great Murphy Bed Project

We’re building a Murphy bed.  Yup, one of them beds that hangs on a wall and folds down at need.  Why?  Well, recently Heather and I remodeled the guestroom – moved some walls, built a closet, new floor, fresh paint.  It was a big project.  The idea was to make the space more usable by guests – family, including the six grand kids.  One of the last problems was beds.  There is only a single bed in the room right now and we could fit one more in but we didn’t want to take up a lot of floor space with a bed so we settled on a Murphy bed.

And of course, I declared that I could build one.  Easy.  No problem.  Just a few sheets of plywood, a little hardware, some stain and varnish and presto – Murphy bed!

Well that’s the theory.  This series of blog posts will detail the reality of the project.

The Murphy bed hardware kit

I ordered the bed hardware kit from Rockler.com (http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=17212 ), one of my favorite on-line toy stores.  The kit comes with the basic hardware, plans, parts list, cut lists and even a DVD with complete video instructions.

The bed is mostly constructed from plywood – takes 4 – 4’x8’ sheets of ¾“ and two sheets of ¼” inch.  The problem I have is cutting sheet goods on my little table saw.  The DeWalt 744 is a nice, cheap little saw and I get a lot of use out of it but I don’t feel safe ripping full sized sheet goods on it (okay – I did it a couple of times, never again).

Truck full of lumber

The solution is the lumber yard.  I went to a local lumber dealer that has a milling shop.  They have good plywoods – oak, cherry and clear pine – and charge $1 per cut if you buy from them.  Now their lumber prices are a bit on the high side but for $19 they took the cut list from the bed plans and cut all the lumber to size (and they do stock high quality lumber).  The only thing I’ll cut in my shop are some trim pieces.  Frankly, I don’t get a lot of joy out of cutting sheet goods so I was willing to trade a few dollars and let them do it.  That way I’ll get to just do the stuff I think is fun, mounting the hardware, assembling the bed and doing the installation.  Heather is going to help and is doing most of the finish work. She also has a better eye for measurements than I do so she double checks the critical measurements before I start sawing, hammering, drilling or otherwise destroying good lumber.

Heather staining the uprights

It’s going to be a big project for us.  We’ve done a couple of bookcases and similar projects but this our biggest furniture project.  It is kind of scary to get into – the instruction video is an hour long, the assembly instructions go on for 30 pages and then there are 10 pages of installation instructions.

We’ve spent just under two days working on it so far (including shopping time and trips to Starbucks) and I’d say we’re just under a quarter done.

Here’s  list of stuff we’ve completed:

  • Decided on clear pine and to stain it with a cherry colored stain with a semi-gloss clear lacquer.
  • Bought the wood and had the plywood cut to size.
  • Bought the wood screws, nails, handles, stain, glue and other little parts and bits that aren’t included in the hardware kit.
  • Built the internal bed frame
  • Mounted the hardware on the side rails
  • Sanded and stained all parts except for the large face boards
  • Milled the solid cherry wood for the bed legs
  • Cleaned out part of the shop
  • Ordered the edge banding

Wow – looks like a lot when you list it like that but when you look at in the shop it still looks like a pile of random lumber.

First completed subassembly – the inner frame

I have one part still on its way – the edge banding for the plywood.  I ended up ordering that on-line and it’s due to be delivered next week.  Not having this is delaying some of the work.  Also the weather slowed us down a bit.  I don’t have a big shop space so much of the work is being done on sawhorses on the drive way – well it rained much of last weekend (hey – what happened to California sunshine?!?).  Good news is that there’s no rain in the forecast for awhile so we hope to make a lot of progress this weekend.

We’re going to work on it again this weekend.

More details in the next report.

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Responses

  1. I remember seeing this kit years ago in the Rockler print catalog, thinking this would be perfect for my guest bedroom (which I want to be an art studio). How customizable does the kit allow the bed to be? Was the kit worth the $?

    • It is very customizable. The only thing you have to do is use plywood for side rails and the basic box has to match the dimensions in the instructions. Wood type, trim options, everything else is up to you. Go to the create-a-bed web site and see some of the customization options – ww.wallbed.com

      Worth the $? Maybe. It’s worth it to me because I’ll have the pride that I built it and got exactly what I wanted but after buying the kit, wood, other hardware you might be able to buy one cheaper. If you’re going to build your own Murphy bed, this is the kit to get – The plans are well done, cut lists very complete and even a DVD showing how it’s done.

  2. [...] I do find strange is that my most popular post is the one on our Murphy bed project with number two being a post I did on this crappy little table saw stand I made.  You have to get [...]

  3. Are you sure an air bed wouldn’t have been easier?


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