How to make a folding wall bed with MDF boards

Creating the ultimate space saving bed is easy!

Wall beds, or Murphy beds, have become very popular lately. Since many apartments are smaller than how they used to be built before, a wall bed is a practical solution to save up on floor space. When the bed is not required, it can simply be folded upwards to fit against the wall, leaving the floor space underneath free and unoccupied. Wall beds are ideal in kids’ bedrooms so as to offer more space for a play area, and in studio apartments. The fact that the bed is hinged at the upper end, and can be folded and stored in a vertical position is both convenient and practical. If you would like to build your own wall bed so as to benefit from these advantages, you can do it quite easily using MDF cut to size boards.

MDF Wall Bed Template. Image credit: Ana White
MDF Wall Bed Template. Image credit: Ana White

The size of the bed is quite standardised of course. A single bed is preferred due to space considerations, as well as for ease of folding. So when it comes to the dimensions you are not going to have to plan much. The first step is to purchase the MDF boards you will be needing for the bed. These will need to be cut so as to have four vertical face frames, and another two for cross pieces. Another ten horizontal pieces should be cut in order to connect the sides of each unit and also to help in supporting the shelves. After you have finished all the cutting, you should have the face frames, the cross pieces, the sides, the tops and bottoms, and the shelves. It is a good idea to try to create a layout so as to see that all these parts will fit together properly.

Afterwards, the assembling can commence. A pocket-hole jig should come in very handy for this. With it you will be able to assemble the face frames by using hidden jig hole screws quite quickly and accurately. Always measure and then mark and clamp the pieces together. All holes should be drilled on the back, or inside face of the frames. The cross pieces can then be secured to the vertical pieces by inserting screws through the pre-drilled holes. This process will need to be repeated until all of the cross pieces have been added throughout the whole length of the two face frames. It is recommended that you cover the screw holes with wood plugs. These should be glued and hammered into place for a better attachment.

Now we can move on to assembling the wall units. The side pieces will need to be inserted into the rabbets at the back of the frame. With glue and finishing nails to further secure them into place, they should then be clamped. Shelves will then need to be inserted into each rabbet and secured once again using glue and finishing nails. Make sure that the shelf tops are flush with the cross pieces’ tops and that they are properly lined up.

At this point the bed box can be built. Cut all the pieces and then assemble together to form the bed box. You will need to use glue and finish nails, and where the boards meet it is best to use wood screws and brackets. Make sure to never put screws in the holes that are too close to the ends as this could lead to splitting. It is also best to add angle brackets to connect the side rails with the bottom surface.

MDF is a good choice for such a project since it has a very smooth surface area and if you want to paint it, it absorbs paint well but do not try to use any form of staining. Also, cut the ledger board which will be connecting the bed box to the wall. To install it you should first install gate hinges to the board, and later, to the bed box. Afterwards attach the ledger board to the wall studs by using lag bolts.

Finally install the box ends and the casters, which will give additional strength. Fasten all the pieces securely. Last but not least, you will need to position the footboard under the bed box. Align it well and attach the face frame to the footboard. Fill any holes with wood putty, and lightly sand the bed box and the footboard for a better finish.

Finished Wall Bed. Image credit: Matrix Space
Finished Wall Bed. Image credit: Matrix Space

The process may seem long and complicated, but in reality it is one of the simplest DIY projects you could undertake. The bed is after all easy to assemble, and the main undertaking is to make sure it will fit neatly against the wall when folded, and that it will come down just as you want it to when you want to use it.