Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 3, Issue 3
January 2009
Building a Murphy Bed

  Editor's Note: The Murphy bed plan was altered by the author of this article
  for his own use. It is recommended that those who are inexperienced in
  furniture construction follow the original plan and specifications.

In our relatively small house, two of our three children share a bedroom. Accommodating two twin beds plus storage while still leaving some floor exposed was a challenge. A Murphy bed seemed to be the ideal solution.
We used the Lee Valley plan, altered to suit our needs. The result is a frame-and-panel, solid cherry Murphy bed that can be taken apart in less than five minutes. The bed fits with the style of our other pieces of furniture, provides storage and can survive three kids using it as a trampoline.

We followed the basic plan instructions, but made the following substitutions:
  • For the #8, 2" wood screws covered with 3/8" wood plugs,
    I substituted 30mm and 40mm shoulder bolts with 13mm flanged insert nuts so that the bed would be movable.

  • I replaced the 3/4" plywood used for the front and side panels of the bed carcass with rail-and-stile/frame-and-panel assemblies. I used 1/4" G2S cherry plywood in the panels, but otherwise the frame members are 3/4" cherry, chosen for its dimensional stability, hardness and strength.

  • Because I made the bed sides from frame-and-panel construction,
    I had to make a subtle change in terms of how the Murphy bed pivot mechanism attached to the sides of the carcass. I used two small pieces of 3/4" Baltic birch plywood (chosen for strength) pressed with cherry veneer. Using screws, I attached the pieces inside of the carcass to the frame-and-panel sides, which became the mounting plates for the pivot hardware.

  • The entire carcass was made 4" deeper, to a total depth of 20" instead of the plan's 16" depth.
Instead of using the suggested plywood for the bed frame and a secondary wood for the bed slats, I made the entire bed frame from maple.

Murphy bed closed   Murphy bed open
The solid cherry Murphy bed shown closed and open.

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