Building My Bed

Since moving in, I had planned to have a Murphy bed, and style it in the same theme as the rest of the room; spacey without any specific branding. Here are the after photos. Continue on for the full process.

To start, I modeled it in CAD, and here are some renders:

From an angle. While the render shows hollow space, the intent was to put lighting and acrylic in the gaps.
From the bottom. The horizontal pieces will be lit, and the lower one will hold a piece of artwork by my sister.
The bed in its flat position.

When I purchased the materials for doing my basement renovation in 2019, I also purchased four sheets of 1/2″ plywood and stored them at Sector67. They were there for more than two years until I finally got around to doing the project. And it turned out I was one sheet too short. I had to pick up a fifth.

The design involves the bed and the sled, where the bed is 1/2″ plywood 61″x79.5″, with 4″ high walls made out of 1/2″ plywood. While a queen size mattress is 80″, the space where the unit will go is only 80″ tall, and I needed room for the walls. Additionally, it turned out that the space is sloped slightly, so I didn’t even have the full 80″, and my 1/2″ margin was completely eaten up, making sliding it in to the space a little difficult. Fortunately the mattress still fit into the 78.5″ space. The sled part is 4 sheets of 1/2″ plywood stacked together, with the inner pieces having cutouts that are larger to accommodate the LED strips and screws for the acrylic.

The various components.
The CNC panel router at Sector67 made quick work of all the cuts.

I used the CNC panel router at Sector67 to cut out all of the pieces, which gave me very accurate and very smooth edges. After that I sanded and built the bed portion, using screws and wood glue, clamping it together while it dried and I put in the screws, allowing me to re-use the clamps elsewhere. I used 1 1/4″ wood screws, and countersunk the holes pretty deep so that after everything I could use wood filler to cover up the holes. For the sled portion I glued and screwed 3 of the sheets together, leaving the 4th off so that I could install the electronics. I sanded everything to 220 grit and painted using oil-based primer, then sanded everything again. With the sled and the bed separate still, I painted the parts with a alkyd paint with a couple coats. Then I screwed the bed onto the sled, but left the countersunk holes exposed in case the two ever need to be taken apart for transportation. I’m confident that it would not fit out of the basement unless taken apart.

Screwing and gluing three sheets together, leaving the fourth off so I could install electronics.

I experimented with a few options for the acrylic, trying to rough up the surface of clear acrylic, spray painting the back side, and trying out other materials, but it turned out the best option was translucent acrylic. A single 4×8′ sheet was plenty for everything, and I cut everything 1/4″ inset so there would be plenty of space for screwing it in, plus room to get it in around the light strip, and some slop in case I didn’t align it properly. I used the laser cutter at Sector67, which made quick work of it.

For the light strips I used basic 12V RGB light strips, and two WiFi controllers. I wanted to be able to control it from my Alexa or the IR remote, just like the other strip lights in my room. However, I only wanted one outlet, and I wanted it to be a neatly enclosed box, so I took them apart and wired the power supply to deliver to both, then put them in a spare project box I had and mounted that to the sled. The tricky part is that it had to be in a location where it was out of sight and wouldn’t have any problems when up or down. Inside the sled I routed the strips and drilled 1/2″ holes through the small parts. I was able to route a whole side of the sled with one continuous strip, then use some wire to route to the other side through the middle of the sled, then use another single strip to route the other side of the sled. The other controller routes up to the horizontal pieces. I put a piece of translucent plastic in the center of the horizontal pieces to support the large acrylic pieces, especially since one of them could have significant weight on it from the art piece. Finally, since the adhesive of the light strips isn’t that great on wood, I used staples every few inches and especially in the corners to hold the strips in place. This was very difficult, as the staple gun was too wide, so I needed to hammer in each staple individually, and they didn’t like that. Additionally, if you nick the strip even the slightest bit, you risk shorting a section of the strip, so I ended up needing to do some surgeries to replace a few sections.

Once the wiring was done, and the acrylic was attached to the wood, I thoroughly vacuumed the insides, and closed them up, drilling and countersinking holes, then clamping them together while I screwed to minimize any gaps. I painted immediately after to make sure the inside was sealed from dust ingress. After a couple coats, everything was done.

After assembly I did additional coats of paint to hide the lines and screw holes and other blemishes.

The final part of the process was attaching the art piece my sister Betsy had done, and putting a strap in to hold the mattress and prevent it from falling out. The strap was easy enough; I had plenty of leftover webbing and clips from Wacky Dancers, and it’s not even noticeable under the fitted sheet. For the art piece I drilled a hole in one leg, then smoothed a face of a joint that made contact with the bed and drilled and tapped a hole in the face. Then I drilled a hole in the bed and put a bolt into the art piece. This way the art piece would stay in place when the bed was in either orientation, and the sled was designed intentionally so that the art piece would have a little bit of clearance so it wouldn’t slide against the carpet.

The mattress could fall out when upright, so I attached a strap that sits underneath the fitted sheet. You can’t even tell it’s there.

That’s it! After connecting it to my Alexa, everything was complete. The bed sits tucked under the HVAC bulkhead and opens up a lot of floor space in my room. It’s not very light, but I can manage to get it up and down. Springs or pneumatics aren’t really an option because the bed has no extra vertical clearance.

The final product again.

Here’s a breakdown of materials:

ItemCountCostExtended Cost
1/2″ 4’x8′ BCX sanded plywood5~$40$200
1/4″ 4’x8′ white translucent acrylic1$80$80
Dutch Boy Platinum Plus Cabinet, Door & Trim White Satin Paint, 1 Gallon1$48$48
Conco Pro Step One P008 Interior Alkyd White Quick Dry Stainblocking Primer/Sealer1$27$27
#6 1/2″ Flat Head Wood Screw 50ct1$2.17$2.17
#6 1/2″ Zinc Pan Head Construction Screw 50ct2$2.10$4.20
#8 1 1/4″ Phillips Flat Head Wood Screw 100ct1$5.09$5.09
#8 3/4″ Phillips Flat Head Wood Screw 150ct1$5.09$5.09
Heavy Duty Staples1$5.98$5.98
Titebond I Wood Glue 16oz1$4.38$4.38
Smart WiFi LED Controller with 24-key remote for RGB Light strip2$9.99$19.98
RGB LED Strip Lights 5M 300LEDs 12V3$13.99$41.97
Power Supply, 12V, 5A1$12.99$12.99
CNC Panel RouterSector67
Table SawSector67
Belt SanderSector67
Corded DrillSelf
Various ScrewdriversSelf
Paint brushesSelf
N95 RespiratorSelf
6in Bar ClampsSelf
Painter Drop ClothsSelf