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How to Build a Murphy Bed in 7 Steps (DIY Project)

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  • This article was written by Joshua Lewis – an academic writer and keen DIY enthusiast – to ensure maximum factual accuracy and unique content.

A Murphy bed is an excellent way to save space in your home and by building the bed yourself, you can also save yourself a lot of money.

So how do you build a Murphy bed from scratch?

To build a Murphy bed: make the bed frame; attach the side rails, headboard, and footboard; add the top and bottom panels; build the storage cabinet; secure the cabinet to the wall; install the Murphy bed kit (the mechanism); add the handles, support legs, and fill any gaps.

The rest of this article shows you how to build a Murphy bed step-by-step in exact detail and includes diagrams to help visualize the process.

Please note that this guide is for informational purposes only, it’s recommended that you enlist the help of a professional if possible to help you build the bed safely – always use any power tools with care.

Need a faster solution? If you would rather buy a Murphy bed but you don’t want to spend a lot of money, then I recommend buying the Lori Wall Bed because it’s very easy to set up and cost-effective.

How to Build a Murphy Bed in 7 Steps

To build yourself a DIY Murphy bed follow the 7 steps below:

1: Build the Bed Frame (Double/Full Size)

The first step is to build the bed frame – the instructions below are for a double/full-sized bed.

You can adjust the measurements if you’d like a larger or smaller bed (but stick to the standard US mattress sizes so that you can get a mattress that fits).

To build a basic double/full bed frame:

  • Cut 5 pieces of 2″ x 3″ x 47″ plywood.
  • Cut two longer pieces measuring 75″.
  • Use two short and two long pieces to create a rectangular frame.
  • Place the three remaining short pieces horizontally across the frame (the slats) – ensure the pieces are placed flat on the 3″ side.
  • Secure the structure by making pocket holes using 2″ wood screws.

More details below:

1.1: The Basics

The dimensions for this frame are 75” in length and 53” in width, as these are the approximated dimensions for a double/full bed.

Plywood will be a suitable material for its strength and value.

Using 2″ x 3″ plywood ensures the frame won’t be too heavy to lift but sturdy enough to hold the weight.

Each cut in this build will require cross cuts and no miter/bevel cuts, although a miter saw can
make these types of cuts.

1.2: Cut the Parts for the Frame

There will be 7 pieces of 2″ x 3″ plywood that will make up the structure of the frame.

Use a miter or circular saw to cut 2 pieces measuring 75” long, making sure they are both even.

Proceed to cut 5 shorter pieces of 2″ x 3″ measuring 47” long.

Sand down the ends of each piece with 180 grit or above sandpaper.

1.3: Assemble the Frame

Place the 2 long pieces vertically on the floor so they are flat on the 3” side.

Place 2 shorter pieces (47”) horizontally in between the 2 vertical pieces and
create a rectangular structure.

Place the 3 remaining short pieces horizontally in between the rectangular structure, ensuring all 5 pieces are equally spaced apart.

To secure, make 4 pocket holes on each short piece going into the long pieces, with 2 on each end (20 pocket holes in total).

Place a thin layer of wood glue on each end, clamp the frame, and secure the structure with a 2” woodscrew in each pocket hole.

Lightly sand the secured frame and stain with a light wood stain of your choice.

Put the frame to one side to dry.

The graphic below shows you how the bed frame should be assembled:

Completed DIY Murphy Bed Frame
The Completed Murphy Bed Frame

2: Build the Side Rails, Headboard, and Footboard

With the frame now made, the next step is to build and attach the side rails, headboard, and footboard by following these steps:

  • Side rails: cut 2 pieces of 1″ x 8″ measuring 77” long. Sand down one end of each piece to create a curved shape at an angle of 90°.
  • Headboard: cut a piece of 1″ x 10″ to measure 53” in length.
  • Footboard: cut a piece of 1″ x 4″ to measure 53”.
  • Sand down all the pieces.
  • Stain with a stain of your choice and leave to dry.
  • Once dry, secure the 4 pieces together in a rectangular shape and attach them to the frame.

More details below:

2.1: Build the Side Rails

To cut the side rails, use the saw to cut 2 pieces of 1″ x 8″ plywood to measure 77” long.

Ensure they are the same size and sand down one end of each board with 180 grit sandpaper or above.

On the other end of both boards, use a pencil to mark the middle of the board with a line.

On one side of the line, draw a 90° curve and proceed to cut with a jigsaw and sand down, leaving the other half of the board as it is.

Sand down both pieces and stain appropriately.

2.2: Build the Headboard and Footboard

For the headboard, cut a piece of 1″ x 10″ plywood measuring 53” in length.

For the footboard, cut a piece of 1″ x 4″ plywood measuring 53” in length.

Sand down both ends of these pieces as well as the face of the wood before staining both pieces.

2.3: Secure the Pieces to the Frame

Make a rectangular structure (similar to step 1) with the 4 pieces, ensuring the footboard is at the bottom and the headboard is at the top.

The side rails should be on the outside of the rectangle structure.

Use wood glue to hold the structure in place.

Make 3 pilot holes on the uncurved end of the side rails going into the headboard.

Make 2 pilot holes on the curved end going into the footboard.

Secure with 2 ½” wood screws and stain appropriately.

Place the basic frame within this structure and secure it with the same method (wood
glue, pilot holes, and woodscrews).

This completes the basic bed structure, as shown in the graphic below:

Murphy Bed Attaching the Headboard Footboard and Side Rails
The Completed Murphy Bed Frame, Side Rails, Headboard, and Footboard

3: Add Top and Bottom Panels to the Bed

To ensure that the Murphy bed is strong enough to be slept on, you should attach top and bottom panels to the bed by following these steps:

  • Top panels: cut 2 pieces of ½” plywood that measure 75” in length and 26.5” in width. Sand down the surface of both pieces with 200 grit sandpaper or above. Spread wood glue onto the inside of the bed and place the 2 panels on top.
  • Bottom panels: cut a large sheet of ½” plywood down so that it measures 77” in length and 55” in width. Using the same method for the top panels, attach the panel to the other side of the bed.

More details below:

3.1: Building and Attaching the Top Panels

Using a jigsaw, cut 2 pieces of ½” plywood measuring 75” in length and 26.5” in width.

Sand the surface of both pieces using sandpaper of 200 grit or above.

Stain the side of each panel that is going to be on display.

Spread wood glue onto the 2 long panels and 5 short panels of the basic frame.

Place the 2 panels on top of the inside of the bed and firmly press down, ensuring the panels are stuck in place.

Leave to dry.

3.2: Building and Attaching the Bottom Panels

Take a large sheet of ½” plywood and clamp it to a worktable.

Using a jigsaw, cut down this sheet to measure 77” in length and 55” in width.

Using the same method as described in 3.1, sand down and stain the large panel on one side.

Flip the bed over and spread wood glue onto the surface of the side rails, headboard and footboard.

Carefully place the sheet onto the bed and firmly press down to ensure it is secured properly.

For extra strength, secure with 1” wood screws.

Before securing the panel, ensure its sides align with the bed, and sand down the panel if it doesn’t.

Flip the bed over again and ensure that the bottom and top panels are securely
stuck to the bed.

Wait for them to dry before moving on.

The Murphy bed should now look like the bed in the graphic below:

Murphy Bed With Top and Bottom Panels Attached
Murphy Bed With Top and Bottom Panels Attached

4: Build the Storage Cabinet

To build the cabinet that will hold the bed frame once the hardware is added, follow the steps below:

  • Cut 2 pieces of 2″ x 12″ plywood to measure 83” in length.
  • Cut another piece of 2″ x 12″ to measure 56” in length.
  • Sand down both pieces and stain.
  • Attach the long pieces to the ends of the short piece to create a rectangular structure.
  • Use pocket holes to secure the pieces together with 2” wood screws.
  • Proceed to cut 2 sheets of ¾” plywood that measures 56” by 30”.
  • Place these sheets as shown in the figure below.
  • Secure the sheets to the structure with wood glue and 2” wood screws.

More details below:

4.1: The Cabinet

Cut 2 pieces of 2″ x 12″ plywood so that both measure 83” in length to be used as the vertical side panels.

Sand down the pieces with 180 grit or above sandpaper.

Cut another piece of 2″ x 12″ but this time measuring 56” in length to be used as the top panel.

Stain panels with either the same stain used for the bed or with contrasting stain for a decorative effect.

Create a rectangular structure by placing the vertical panels on their side and fitting the top panel in between.

Make 3 pocket holes on each end of both vertical panels going into the top panel.

Use wood glue to hold the structure together and secure it with 2” wood screws.

4.2: The Back Panels

Cut 2 sheets of ¾” to measure 56” in length and 30” in width.

Sand the surface of these sheets with 200 grit or above sandpaper.

Stain the sheets the same color as the cabinet structure or the bed for effective color contrast.

Lay the cabinet structure flat and mark points with a pencil at 30” and 60” from the
top panel.

Place one sheet at 0-30”, ensuring the corners align with the corners of the cabinet.

Place the next sheet at the 60” mark, so there is a 30” gap between the first sheet and the second sheet.

Place wood glue on the vertical panels and firmly press the panels to ensure they are fixed in place.

Use 2” woodscrews, with pre-drilled pilot holes, to make sure the back panels are secured to the cabinet structure.

You now have your cabinet in which the bed will be stored, so stand it upright in your room in the spot where you want your murphy bed to be.

The graphic below shows you what the front and back of the cabinet should look like with the panels attached:

Murphy Bed Cabinet
The Completed Murphy Bed Cabinet With Panels

5: Secure the Cabinet to the Wall

Choose a suitable wall to attach your Murphy bed to and follow the instructions below to secure the cabinet to the wall:

  • Stand the cabinet upright against the wall and make sure that it can balance on its own.
  • Lightly draw an outline of the back panels when the cabinet is pressed against the wall.
  • Briefly remove the cabinet and use a stud finder in this space to make sure the space is suitable to be drilled.
  • Fill the holes with either wall plugs (concrete) or anchors (drywall).
  • Make 10 pilot holes, equally spaced, in each panel.
  • Put wall plugs (concrete) or anchors (drywall) into the drill holes.
  • Replace the cabinet and secure it with masonry screws (concrete) or course thread screws (drywall).

More details below:

5.1: Pre-drill the Wall Holes

Firstly, stand the cabinet upright and press it against the wall.

Remove skirting boards if necessary.

Make an outline of the back panels on the wall with light pencil marking.

Remove the cabinet and use a stud finder within the marked space to see if the wall is suitable for drilling.

Replace the cabinet and make 10 pilot holes on each back panel (20 in total).

Make 4 holes across the top and 4 across the bottom of each panel ensuring they are equally spaced.

Make 2 holes on each end of the panel in the middle.

Use an appropriately sized masonry bit to make these holes in both the wood and the wall.

Wipe away any dust/mess.

5.2: Secure the Cabinet

Remove the cabinet from the space and place wall plugs (concrete) or wall anchors (drywall) into the drill holes.

Use a hammer to ensure they don’t stick out of the wall.

If anchors/plugs won’t go in, gradually drill the hole deeper until they fit in.

Move the cabinet back and secure it to the wall with 2” masonry screws (concrete) or course thread screws (drywall).

Make sure the drill is set to a low torque setting with the appropriate drill bit.

Ensure all 20 holes are secured with anchors/plug and the appropriate screws.

6: Install the Murphy Bed Kit

Now the cabinet is up and the bed is ready, it’s time to attach the appropriate
equipment to make this project into a Murphy bed.

Many varieties of this equipment exists, but effectively, all you will need is:

  • 2 x stoppers.
  • 2 x 360° swivel pieces.
  • 4 x pivot plates.
  • 2 x pistons.
  • (Optional) 2 x legs.

You can buy various Murphy sets online, but you can make a perfectly functional Murphy bed with these components.

To make your bed into a Murphy bed, follow the steps below:

  • Make an outline of the swivel pieces with a pencil.
  • The first outline should be at the bottom corner of the uncurved end of the side rails.
  • The second outline should be at the bottom corner of the vertical cabinet piece furthest from the wall.
  • Proceed to make an outline of the pivot plates 11” from the uncurved end of the side rails.
  • Drill pilot holes in each of these outlined areas.
  • Use washers and bolts (according to the manufacturer’s guide) to secure the hardware.
  • Repeat with the remaining plates by securing the plates 30” from the bottom of the vertical panel.
  • Clip pistons to the pivot plates and pull the bed up.
  • Secure stoppers onto the inside of each vertical cabinet panel 5” from the top.

More details below:

6.1: Install the Swivel Plates

Align the swivel plate to the bottom left corner of the side rail and make an outline with a pencil.

Repeat this with the bottom corner (furthest from the wall/closest to the bed) on the inside of the vertical cabinet panels.

Once outlined, make pilot holes with the appropriate sized drill bit.

Use the outline as a guide.

Once done, briefly sand with 150-180 grit sandpaper to remove excess wood.

Secure the swivel pieces to both the bed and the cabinet according to the manufacturer’s instructions of your chosen swivel plate.

Use a spare piece of wood to suspend the bed whilst you attach it to the cabinet.

If no instructions are available, use heavy-duty bolts (T-nuts or hexagon bolts) and washers to secure.

6.2: Install the Pivot Plates

Mark the center point on the side rails, which should be around 4” high.

From this point, measure 11” from the uncurved end and mark with a pencil.

Place the pivot plates on this marked point and trace them.

Drill pilot holes and sand away excess wood.

Secure the pivot plates with T-nuts and repeat for the other side rail.

On the vertical cabinet panels, mark 30” from the bottom and trace the pivot plate at this point, keeping it vertically central.

Drill the appropriate holes and secure the remaining 2 plates to the inside of both
vertical panels.

Use a spirit level to ensure the plates are perfectly horizontal.

Clip the pistons to the plates and test the mechanism.

If this fails to work, simply alter the position of the upper pivot plates.

6.3: Install the Washers

The washers should be placed inside the cabinet on the vertical panels to “stop” the bed from falling back when stored.

To do this, measure the center point of the vertical panels.

From this point, measure 8” from the top and mark with a pencil.

Trace the washer and drill the appropriate holes.

Use T-nuts to secure the washer.

Repeat with the other vertical panel.

Murphy Bed Mechanism
The Murphy Bed Mechanism

7: Add the Finishing Touches

Now the bed is done, there are just a couple of additions to make.

This includes:

  • Handles for the bed to be pulled down.
  • Covering any gaps.
  • Support legs.

Follow the steps below to finish the project off:

  • Pull the bed up and mark the point which is ¾ of its height.
  • Secure a handle/handles at this height to be able to pull the bed down.
  • On the curved end of the bed, install a foldable bar or pivoting leg accessory to act as support legs.
  • Measure any remaining gaps at the top or bottom of the cabinet and cut a piece of ¾“ wood to the same size and secure over the gaps.

More details below:

7.1: The Handles

Buy either one large handle or 2 small handles that match the aesthetic for your room.

If you have metal handles you need to paint, take a look at how to paint a metal bed frame here for guidance.

Make a horizontal line ¾ of the way up the bed when it is folded.

Install the handle/handles at this point using appropriately sized wood screws.

7.2: The Leg Supports

Leg supports are necessary on the curved end of the bed for strength purposes.

A foldable bar is perfect to balance the weight, but this isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing.

Leg supports with pivot plates may look better in your bedroom.

Secure the pivot plates 3 inches from the curved end of the side panels.

Attach the legs and fold up when the bed is not in use.

7.3: Fill Any Gaps

Due to the sizes used, gaps in the cabinet are likely, particularly at the bottom and top.

To fill these gaps, measure them and cut a piece of ¾” wood of the same size.

Sand and stain the wood with the same techniques used in step 4.

Use wood glue to place the panels in the gaps.

Secure them with 1-2” woodscrews.

If any small gaps remain, use wood filler to close them, ensuring you stain over
these areas afterwards.

Completed Murphy Bed
Completed Murphy Bed With Handles and Supports

The Lori Wall Bed: A Simpler Solution

If you would like to buy a Murphy bed that comes with the pieces already cut for you and has minimal assembly time, then I recommend that you buy the Lori Wall Bed because it’s well priced and has excellent customer reviews – click the button below to learn more.


Disclaimer

This article is for information purposes only. Only proceed with DIY projects that you have the skills to handle. If safety is a concern then you should hire a professional to help you.

Image Attribution and Licencing

Main image: ‘White Bed Bedroom and Home Office Bookcase’ by ismagilov (Getty Images) – used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.

All other graphics custom made and used with permission.

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