I built a DIY murphy bed! I built it using a complete Murphy Bed Kit produced by Rockler. Everything you need to build the bed, except for the plywood, comes included in this kit.
I first started by unpacking everything from the box. I also grabbed the instructions and started reading. This build takes five sheets of plywood (or at least mine did as I’m building a queen-size). They also make a kit for the Full and Twin, so those will probably use less.
I utilized my Armor Tool Workbench on casters to get all of my sheets over to my workbench to start cutting.
To cut the plywood to size, I’m using my Triton track saw. While it takes a lot of sheets to make up the parts needed, there are only eight components so don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated by this project just because of its size. As I cut down my pieces from the cutlist, I made sure to label them so that later on I can keep them straight without having to remeasure them.
Now that all 8 of the pieces are cut, I can now start on the assembly. First step is to lay out some mounting brackets. I used the plans to lay out the holes that I would need to drill out. Then, after getting everything marked, I set my bracket in place just to make sure things lined up. You can see I used a square to make sure I was going to be mounting it squared to the edge.
After repeating on the other side I started drilling. To prevent going all the way through the material, I used a piece of tape to make a flag for my bit and use this as a visual marker on the depth.
I drilled all 16 holes then used an Allen wrench to screw in some threaded inserts. I think these are such a neat piece of hardware. It’s almost like tapping metal. You can put threads anywhere and therefore a bolt anywhere. You do want to get these flush with the surface and make sure you don’t over tighten them and strip them out.
I got all 16 of those threaded and then placed the brackets over them. I used the bolts that came in the hardware packets from the kit to attach them.
Moving over to yet another work surface, I started assembling what will be the big shell that the mattress portion will fold up into. I’m using the Rockler Clamp-It jigs to get the top and upper headboard joined together at a perfect 90. Now, with the boards temporarily together, I can mark where I’ll need to drill for dowels in the next step.
Since you’ll be able to see the inside and outside of this cabinet, dowels are a great choice because they can’t be seen and provide some extra strengths for the joint. This is the Rockler Doweling Jig. I lined up the center mark on the jig to my pencil mark clean the jig in place then drilled the designated holes. I could then run a bead of glue along the edge drop the dowels in their holes then clamp the two sides together.
Since this is an indoor project I’m sticking with Tightbond Original for this entire build. I used the dowel locations to get the pieces lined up, a mallet to gently get it started, then clamps to get them seated the entire way.
Next I repeated this same process to the two boards that make up the bottom and the bottom headboard.
Then, while letting both of those big assemblies dry, I started on sanding all of the pieces down with my Palm ROS. Even though the plywood comes pre sanded I still like to go over all of the surfaces with 220 and then the edges with something like 120.
Once the big glue ups were done drying I started attaching them to form a giant box, making sure the bracket on the side panel was facing inside and towards the bottom. Then, I also moved the bottom assembly into place. I once again used wood glue and dowels to secure this side to the top and bottom. I also put it in a few screws so I wouldn’t have to let it set up in clamps and wait for it to dry.
I shifted the entire thing over on my workbench so that I could repeat the process on the other side and get the fourth panel in place to complete the box.
I will be painting my unit so next I went over the entire thing with joint compound to fill in all of the screw heads and any voids and the edges of the plywood.
Before I started painting, I decided to add a simple design to the front just to keep it from looking like a big boring box. I came up with something simple which was just a few arrows. But I decided that instead of just painting them on, I’d build out the design with wood and give it a little bit of texture.
Wood glue works best on unpainted surfaces so I took the time to mark out my design on the panels so I could avoid painting the surfaces that I would later glue wood to. Once I had those lined out, I could then get on to painting.
I’m going with Milk Paint in the color of driftwood by General Finishes. I love the low luster sheen of milk paint. but the general finishes brand is a premium mixture that is also so durable on its own so it doesn’t require a top coat. And not having to apply an additional coat or two on this large project was definitely a plus for me.
After getting the door panels painted I also painted the outside and the inside of the body. Total, I applied three coats of paint but this paint dries so quickly I never had to set my roller down.
I left that alone while I started working on making the thin panels needed for the accents on those panels. For this, I could have used something like masonite. But I had so much plywood leftover I decided to use it by planing it down to the thickness needed.
I moved my thickness planer on my mobile workbench out to my porch and ran my boards through until they were about 3/16 of an inch thick. And man, having a mobile workbench is a great addition to my shop especially one as versatile as this armor tools workbench.
After getting those thinned down, i quickly threw a coat of paint on all of the strips and then let them dry. for these I went with a slightly darker general finishes gray, still in the milk paint so that they would have the same sheen.
Then, when they were dry, I laid down a good amount of glue and stuck them in place. If you’ll be staining your unit, then you could also set something heavy on top while they’re drying. But since I’m painting mine, I used a brad nailer to hold them down while they were drying. Then afterwards I filled in the nail holes so I could paint right over them.
When moving to repeat the process on the second door, I lined up the edges of the doors first. Then again I used my square to align this first section to the existing points. And man I just absolutely love the way this design makes these doors pop!
I came back with a flush trim saw to knock down all of the pieces flush with the edges then enlisted some help to get everything moved out to the shed. This thing is big, but it’s very easy to move with two people.
Next up was assembling the frame that the mattress will go on. This is all very straightforward and quick to do as the hardware and instructions all come with the kit.
These slots fit into some little plastic sleeves that then attach to the frame. You can see that I skipped some. This was intentional because the open slots will be helpful in the next few steps when installing the frame to the wall.
With the frame on the ground, I attached the two air cylinders on either side. Now I could move the frame into the body of the unit and slip the frame into the mounting brackets that I attached earlier to the side panels.
The next step was to attach the other side of the cylinder and put it under tension.
This means that the frame will now want to remained in the stowed away position and I’ll need it to be persuaded to go down and stay down. The kit actually comes with some styrofoam blocks that you can use to push out the frame while installing the feet. But I accidentally threw mine away not knowing that they were useful. So I used my mallet instead.
Now the foot, or what I’m calling the foot, will flip in whenever it’s stowed away. And then flip out to rest on the floor to keep the mattress off of the ground when it’s in use.
Now it’s time to install a stop block which will prevent the frame from going way too far into the cabinet when you want to stow it away. This was pretty difficult to do by myself, so I asked my mom to give me a hand. She could read the level for me while I made small adjustments and then screwed in the stop block.
I could then center the unit on my wall and locate the studs and attach the unit securely. Of course with the frame under tension, it made this part of the process pretty comical. You know, I always thought the bits in the movies where people would get folded into the unit was staged! But now I know it can actually happen! Note that you can definitely weight down the end of the frame to keep it from popping up on you while you’re working 🙂
And then last part was to install the door panels. Since they are directional, I position them first to make sure I wasn’t installing them incorrectly.
Then I flipped them around to start attaching the brackets to the backside. There are six for each panel and these hooks catch the metal framing assembly. After getting the first one on, I used a mallet to center it up slightly. Then repeated by attaching the second.
Once both were hung, and centered I moved back to the inside and secured both the screws in several pre designated locations. Then attached the slats I left out earlier, attached to mattress supports and then did all of the touch-up paint so that it looked as fresh as possible.
I still have a handle to figure out but I think I want it to be something in the center.
And there it is! I am beyond pleased with how this turned out and I’m so glad to finally be moving to the shed and adding some function to it.
Next we’ll be adding some floating shelves, some nightstands and a few other things so stay tuned if you’re interested! And of course I would love to hear your comments and what you think about the project down below.
I’ll see you soon on whatever I am building next!
Things I Used In This DIY Murphy Bed Project:
ISOtunes Bluetooth Hearing Protection
General Finishes Milk Paint
Armor Tool Workbench
Ultimate Plywood Workbench
Rockler Corner Clamp It
Rockler Dowling Jig
12″ Woodpeckers Square
Triton Thickness Planer
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