Project Guide

How to Build a Murphy Bed

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What Is a Murphy Bed?
fully made-up Murphy bed
  • Named for William Lawrence Murphy, a Murphy bed, wall bed, fold-down bed or pull-down bed is a hinged bed that can be stored vertically against the wall or inside a cabinet or closet. Think of it as a cabinet/bed hybrid. 
  • These beds are popular for small spaces like tiny homes, apartments, college housing and mobile homes. Although the premise is simple, Murphy beds can be pretty complex, with many units featuring storage cabinets, shelving and lighting options.
How to Build a Basic Murphy Bed Yourself
wooden boards in a stack
  • All you need to build a good Murphy bed is some woodworking knowledge, Murphy bed plans, step-by-step instructions and the right tools and supplies. 
  • You can also purchase a Murphy bed kit with everything you need to make the bed already prepared.
Read the Instructions
  • Once you have your kit in hand, begin by reading over your Murphy bed plans. 
  • Make sure you understand the scope of the work and have all the necessary working knowledge and materials for the project. 
  • Some Murphy bed kits also come with video instructions, so take those into consideration also.
Craft the Struts
  • Make sure there is enough room for the bed to extend before starting on the struts. 
  • If your kit came with struts, separate them from the rest of the kit. If you’re making your own struts, gather the wood you need. 
  • Determine how big you want the bed to be, as well as which way you’d like it to face. 
  • Next, select 10 frame strut pieces and match them to create five struts. 
  • Using wood glue, form an “L” shape with two pieces. Drill holes along the length, and secure with screws.
Create Subframe
a power drill lying next to a bunch of screws
  • Once you’ve assembled the struts, put them about 20-inches apart. 
  • Check that they are perpendicular to the sides of the frame, drill your holes and secure with screws. Your subframe is ready.
Round the Corners
man rounding the edges of a wooden board using a power saw
  • Use a jigsaw to round out one corner of each side rail, drill for the hardware and make sure you’re following the instructions listed with your particular hardware. 
  • If you’ve rounded everything correctly, your rounded corners at the foot of the bed should face up.
Join the Head and Foot Rails
holes drilled in a wooden board
  • From the inside of the subframe, drill about five equally spaced holes. 
  • Secure head and foot rails with screws. 
  • Wiggle the frame to ensure that everything is tight.
Secure the Side Rails
man drilling holes in a wooden frame
  • With rounded ends at the foot, lay the side rails beside the subframe. 
  • Mount leg hardware in the outside, if not done already. 
  • Drill holes from the inside of the subframe to each strut and attach rails with screws. 
  • Next, drill holes through the side rails into the headrail and foot rail and attach with screws.
Position Panels
person putting screws in a wooden frame
  • Place panels face down and against each other. 
  • Line the bed frame up with the top of the panels. 
  • With the subframe in place, it’s time to put it all together.
Connect Panels
person using wood glue on a wooden frame
  • Apply a drop of wood glue to the face panels and attach the subframe. 
  • Make sure everything is level, flush and straight before continuing, as it will be difficult to move anything around from this point. 
  • Attach the last strut to the foot with screws, then add two screws to the center of the foot rail. 
  • Secure the corners at the head of the bed with two screws, then add the remaining struts to the panels and attach with screws at 6-inch increments.
Construct Header
person applying finishing nails to a wooden frame

With the panels in position, assemble your header. 

Drill holes through the mounting cleats into the header board, then secure with screws. 

Attach the header rail to the back side of the header. 

Put remaining rail against the front edge of the header board. 

Secure everything with glue and finishing nails instead of screws to preserve the aesthetic appeal (since the face will be visible).

Assemble Cabinet
person drilling into the side of a wooden cabinet
  • Now that your Murphy bed frame is ready, construct a cabinet for it. 
  • Use your verticals for the sides of your cabinet. The header forms the top. 
  • Put the cabinet together with a drill and some screws about 2-inches long. 

Note: You may want to cut a notch with a jigsaw to keep the cabinet flush with the wall.

Affix Cabinet to Wall
person using a stud finder on a blank wall
  • Use a stud finder to locate the studs in your wall. 
  • Attach the cabinet to the wall with a screw through the back of the header.
Add Hardware and Handles
door hardware and handles sitting on a counter
  • Your hardware kit likely comes with instructions, so follow those as you complete this step. 
  • Make sure everything fits and functions correctly. 
  • If you plan to stain or finish the wood, remove the hardware before doing so. 
  • Affix the handles to the cabinet doors at a comfortable height.
Fit Mattress Supports
  • Attach the mattress support panels to the inside of the bed with screws. 
  • They should cover the struts. 
  • Attach the elastic bands in your kit, secure with screws and add your mattress.