How to Build a Murphy Bed

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Why Is It Called a Murphy Bed?

Before getting into the steps of creating a Murphy bed, it’s worth taking the time to answer a simple question. Why exactly is it called a Murphy bed? Well, for starters, it does have different names. Others may refer to it as a fold-down bed, a pull-down bed, or a wall bed. Those terms are self-explanatory.

So, where did the Murphy moniker come from? The bed’s namesake is William L. Murphy. Murphy held a variety of jobs that had no relation to bed-making before he engineered his invention. Inspiration struck at a time when he had a small apartment, which made it difficult for him to have guests over. The solution he came up with was what birthed the Murphy bed.

Interestingly enough, beds that were somewhat reminiscent of the Murphy bed were around earlier. However, it was Murphy who came up with the idea to use a closet doorjamb and hinges to create a pivot point that would allow it to fold up for storage purposes.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Murphy Bed?

If you’ve been using a more conventional bed for most of your life, you may be hesitant to make the switch over to a wall bed. That’s understandable, but there are legitimate reasons why a wall bed can be a better fit for your place of residence, and they are below.

Wall Beds Save Plenty of Space

This is the number one argument in favor of wall beds. Let’s say that all you can afford for now is a small apartment or condominium unit. Space is at a premium in those enclosed quarters. A pull-down bed can keep you comfortable while simultaneously maximizing the space you do have available.

Like Murphy, you can even have guests over and give them enough space because your bed can fold neatly into the wall. Murphy beds can still be useful additions in larger homes, though. You may find yourself in a situation where you need additional storage space, but also want to keep a guest room easily accessible.

Building an extension or addition could work as a solution, and it’s worth considering if you have the money. If your funds are limited at the moment, though, installing a wall bed and creating a hybrid guest room/storage area is a good solution.

Wall Beds Can Complement Your Home’s Design

It can be challenging to design a home exactly the way you want to. Certain home elements don’t blend well into their surroundings. The bed can be hard to integrate into the design because it’s such a big piece.

The great thing about wall beds is that you can design it so it won’t disrupt your theme. Due to them being highly customizable, you can even build a cabinet to the underside and use that as another design piece.

Wall Beds Fit Better Inside Homes Hosting Pets

One more reason it makes sense to use a fold-down bed instead of a more traditional bed is because they are better to have around pets. Cats and dogs don’t always show predictable behavior, and they may sometimes decide to jump on your bed and make a mess for no reason.

Your feline friends can be particularly troublesome as they may decide that your bedposts work great for sharpening their claws. With a Murphy bed, you can prevent your pets from gaining access to your bed unless you’re there with them.

The Process of Building Your Own Murphy Bed

Make Your Measurements

Prior to doing anything else, you need to work out what size bed you want/need. Sometimes, the dimensions of your bedroom will make the choice for you. In any case, take the time to measure to be certain the bed you’re building will fit where it’s supposed to. The following steps are detailed to create a queen-sized bed in mind.

Acquire the Materials

To get to the next step of crafting your own wall bed, you must gather the required materials. This is where you will need to make a few trips.

First, head over to your local home improvement or bed store and look for a Murphy bed kit. You’ll find the mounting hardware inside this kit along with metal legs. Some manufacturers also provide an instructional DVD and booklet for you to study.

Once you’ve purchased the Murphy bed kit, you can make the drive over to your local hardware store next to pick up wood. Here are the specific pieces you’ll need:

  • 10 pieces of 3/4” x 1-1/2” x 60-1/2” of solid wood board for the frame struts
  • 2 pieces of 3/4” x 1-1/2” x 80” of solid wood board for the frame sides
  • 1 piece of 3/4″ x 3” x 62” of plywood for the foot rail
  • 1 piece of 3/4″ x 7-7/8” x 62” of plywood for the head rail
  • 2 pieces of 3/4″ x 5-7/8” x 81-1/2” of plywood for the side rails
  • 2 pieces of 3/4″ x 32 x 81-1/2” of plywood for the face panels
  • 1 piece of 3/4″ x 15-7/8” x 64-3/8” of plywood for the headboard
  • 2 pieces of 3/4″ x 15-7/8” x 87-1/8” of plywood for the verticals
  • 1 piece of 3/4” x 14-3/8” x 64-3/8” of plywood for the header board
  • 2 pieces of 3/4″ x 2-3/4” x 64-3/8” of plywood for the header rails
  • 2 pieces of 3/4” x 1-1/2” x 14-3/8” of solid wood board for the mounting cleats
  • 1 piece of 3/4″ x 3/4” x 60-1/4” of plywood for the leg support rail
  • 2 pieces of 1/4″ x 31” x 80” of plywood for the mattress support

You can come up with the pieces required yourself if you have the tools necessary at home. Alternatively, you can request the hardware store to take care of them for you to save more time. Other materials you will need include:

  • Circular saw
  • Clamps
  • Drill along with 1” bit, 1/4″ bit, and 1/8” countersink bit
  • Flat iron
  • Forstner bit
  • Hammer
  • Jigsaw
  • Nailer
  • Nails
  • Paint
  • Paint equipment
  • Pencil
  • Safety goggles
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Stud finder
  • Tape measure
  • Veneer tape
  • Wood glue

Start With the Struts

Pick up the pieces for the frame struts and separate them into five pairs. You can do that by arranging them in a kind of “L” shape with the help of wood glue. With the pieces glued together, proceed to drill pilot holes into the length of the struts that are eight inches apart. Use screws to secure the struts.

Arrange the struts in a way that they are 20 inches apart from one another as you line them perpendicularly along the frame sides. Drill more pilot holes into the frame sides and then start attaching the pieces. This completed piece will be your sub-frame.

Work on the Side Rails

Bust out your jigsaw next because it’s time to create some rounded corners. Round the corners of the side rails down to a 2-7/8” radius and make sure that they are facing up at the foot of the bed. This is also the time when you should start to drill holes for the Murphy bed hardware.

Attach Elements to the Sub-Frame

Use your drill to create pilot holes along the inside of the sub-frame. These holes must be spaced equally and made with the 1-1/4” bit. You can now connect the head and foot rails to the sub-frame.

Grab the side rails and place them next to the sub-frame. You must position the rounded corners of the side rails at the foot of the frame. Check if you can mount the leg hardware of the kit on the outside of the frame.

Use the drill again to start carving out holes from the inside of the sub-frame along each strut. Use the 1-1/4″ bit for this. You can now connect the side rails to the sub-frame using screws.

Drill more pilot holes into the corners of the sub-frame. There should be two holes for every corner, and they must go through the side rails and into the foot and head rails. Use more screws to attach the pieces.

Put the Face Panels into Place

Reach for the face panels and lay them on the ground with the best side face down. Their long sides should also line up together. Get the sub-frame now and lay that on top of the panels. The face panels should extend about 1/4” beyond the side rails on their long sides.

The face panels must also be taller than the head rail but be flush with the foot rail. Use a pencil or marker to trace between the struts and the points of extension between the face panels and the sub-frame.

Connect Face Panels to the Sub-Frame

Using the trace marks of the pencil, apply wood glue to the face panels so you can attach the struts. Gently lower the sub-frame on to the panels. As you’re doing so, make sure you align the sub-frame perfectly with the feet and the sides of the panels. You can now start screwing the pieces into place.

Work on the last strut on the foot and attach it to the panels by screwing it in at the corners. Grab two more screws and place them in the center of the foot rail strut. Follow that by screwing in the corners at the head of the bed. Finish by fastening the struts to the face panels using more screws while maintaining six-inch increments.

Construct the Bed Header

Leave the assembled sub-frame for now and focus on the header. Reach for the mounting cleats and line them flush with the short ends of the header board. Use pilot holes and screws to connect those pieces.

Take a header rail now and screw that on to the rear side of the header board. Pick up the other header rail and line that up with the front edge of the header board, but make sure there is a 1/2” extension present. Use wood glue and nails to connect that other header rail.

Get Started on the Cabinet and Veneer

Take your verticals and connect them to the short sides of the header using a drill and some screws.  Go for your veneer tape now and apply that to the edges of the plywood that you’ll be able to see.

Use a flat iron to neatly apply the veneer tape. Get your stud finder and look for the studs in the wall. Drill a screw right through the backside of the header so that the cabinet can be properly connected.

Install Hardware and Handles

Circle back to your Murphy bed kit and start fitting the pieces together according to the instructions. Once you’ve seen that they fit properly, leave them for a while, and paint the frame the way you wish. Install the hardware onto the frame after you finish painting. Remove the handles from the kit and attach them to the face panels.

All that’s left now is to install the mattress support panels. You can attach them to the inside of the bed using some screws. Connect the elastic bands found in the kit to the struts and through the support panels with the help of more screws. With that done, your Murphy bed is now complete.

Building your own Murphy bed is certainly a worthwhile undertaking, but you may benefit from some professional assistance as well. Feel free to contact Eco Minded Solutions if you need help with your next home improvement project as they provide quality work every time.