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Use a table saw to rip 3/4x96" poplar boards to
1-1/4" finished width. You’ll need four lengths for
the vertical face frame pieces and two additional
lengths that will be cut into cross pieces.
Reset the saw blade to 1/2" depth and cut a 1/2"
deep by 3/4" wide rabbet on one back edge along the
length of each piece. The plywood sides and shelves
will later be glued and nailed into these rabbets.
Use a compound miter saw to cut the vertical pieces
to 95" finished length.
Cut two 1-1/4" lengths into 10 horizontal cross
pieces, each 15-1/2". These face pieces will connect
the plywood sides of each unit and help support the
Use a circular saw to rough-cut six plywood boards
Reset your table saw blade depth to 1" and
finish-cut the plywood boards to 10" width.
Use your compound miter saw or circular saw to cut
four of these boards to 95" finished length for the
Cut the two other 10" wide boards into 16-1/2"
pieces for the top, bottom and shelves.
Do a dry layout to ensure that all the cut pieces
(face frames, cross pieces, sides, shelves and tops
and bottoms) fit together correctly.
An inexpensive pocket hole jig will enable you to
quickly and accurately assemble face frames using
hidden screws. Use the tapered drill bit and stop
collar provided with the jig. Set the stop to the
proper measurement for your assembly, measure, mark
and clamp the pieces together according to the jig’s
directions and use the jig to drill pilot holes for
the screws (Image 1).
Measure and mark the placement of the cross pieces,
allowing an equal distance between each. Be sure the
rabbet on the back of these pieces is at the top –
the front of each shelf will rest in these cuts.
Use the pocket hole jig to drill screw holes for
all intersecting face frame pieces. Remember to
drill all holes on the back side, or inside face, of
Secure the cross pieces to the vertical pieces with
1-1/4" screws in the pre-drilled holes (Image 2).
Continue until all cross pieces have been added
along the length of both face frames.
Cover the screw holes with special tapered wood
plugs available with the jig (Image 3). After the
screws are installed, place a drop of wood glue on
each plug and use a hammer to tap the plugs into
Measure the placement of the face frame cross
pieces and transfer these dimensions to the vertical
side pieces. Use a square to mark lines for each
Insert the plywood side pieces into the rabbets at
the back of each 95" long face frame piece. Use glue
and finishing nails to secure them, then clamp the
parts together until the glue dries.
Insert a shelf into each rabbet and use glue and
finishing nails to secure it in place. The shelf
tops should be flush with the tops of the cross
pieces. Also make sure the shelves line it up with
the squared marks on the vertical sides. Use
finishing nails through the vertical sides to
support the shelves.
Cut two pieces of 1/4" plywood to 18" wide by 95"
long for the shelf unit backs. Use finishing nails
to attach each piece to the back of each unit.
Although the construction of a Murphy bed box is a
simple part of the project, be sure to cut all
pieces to exact dimensions – a tight fit is
essential for proper operation.
Once you've determined the measurements for your
Murphy bed, rip two 1x12" poplar side-boards to the
size needed to allow your mattress to sit slightly
above the bed box.
Next, cut the shorter 1x12" end-boards that will
form the top and bottom of the bed box. In this
example, the top and bottom boards each measure
With the top and bottom pieces cut, cut the 1x12"
boards that will make up the longer sides. Use a
square to mark the ends before making the cuts. In
this case, the side pieces are cut to 77-1/2".
With the pieces cut, use a router to cut rabbets on
the top inside edge of all boards (Image 1).
Here, the depth is set to 3/4". On the long boards,
stop the rabbets short of the ends so they are not
visible at the finished corners (Image 2).
Cut the bottom board from medium density
fiberboard, or MDF, which is a good choice for
interior projects such as this. It takes paint well
and provides a smooth surface appearance when the
bed is stored away.
Finally, cut a 2x8 to create the ledger board that
will connect the bed box to the wall. Here, the
ledger board is cut to just under 57" long.
Use glue and 2" finish nails to assemble the sides
and the end boards of the box (Image 1).
Bore pilot holes in the ends where the boards meet,
then secure with 2-1/4" wood screws (Image 2).
Repeat these steps until the sides of the entire
box have been joined.
Install 6" metal L-brackets in the corners to hold
the boards in position and add reinforcement. Secure
the brackets with 1" wood screws (Image 3). To avoid
splitting the boards, don't put screws in the holes
closest to the ends.
Make sure the frame is turned so that the rabbet
edges of the boards are exposed. Place construction
adhesive along the rabbets, then set 3/4" MDF into
the frame. Check to make sure everything is square,
then bore pilot holes along the edge of the MDF
every 6-8". Secure the panel with 2-1/4" wood
Flip the frame back over and add smaller 2" angle
brackets to connect the side rails and the bottom
surface (Image 4).
To attach the ledger board, first install the 6"
gate hinges to the board (Image 5), then to the bed
Position the bed box upright on temporary support
blocks. Use shims to raise the box to the exact
height and required position – in this case, aligned
with the tops of the shelf units.
Attach the ledger board to the wall studs using 3"
lag bolts (Image 6).