Author Topic: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?  (Read 1467 times)

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Offline smorgasbord

  • Posts: 205
Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« on: November 05, 2022, 12:31 AM »
We've decided that our spare room should have a Queen size Murphy bed, which I get to build.

There are a few companies selling mechanisms:

1) The most popular seems to be the Create-A-Bed. It's sold on Amazon and at Rockler. The one I'd get is the new Adjustable version, in which the bottom piston attachment point can be moved in and out to change the leverage. Here's a link: https://createabed.com/products/adjustable-deluxe-bed-mechanism

2) This Canadian company, Murphy Wall Beds, sells both mechanisms and complete beds. They have two versions of the mechanisms, both of which have high weight limits and 25 year or lifetime warranties. The more expensive one is aluminum, which is lighter so you have more freedom on what you use for mattress and face panel. They both use springs instead of air/gas pistons, and you adjust them by how many springs you put on, and where you put them on. These kits are twice the price, but they include metal bed framing that you bolt together and then bolt your "face panel" onto. Here's a link: https://www.murphybeds.com/shophardware

3) Murphy Bed Depot, located in Florida, sells a kit that is similar to the cheaper of the two Murphy Wall Beds kit, but is even cheaper, just about $100 more than the Create-A-Bed kit. Here's a link: https://murphybeddepot.com/products/panel-bed-frame-free-shipping-to-cont-48-u-s-states


One thing that turned me off on the Create-A-Bed kit is that they insist you build the mattress inner frame out of plywood (¾" by 6" wide), claiming that even hardwoods aren't strong enough. Which means the plywood edge is visible right on the top, and there's a curve at the top front, so you're edge banding, which I personally dislike. The other two brands have metal inner mattress framing, so they handle the weight without problem.

Create-A-Bed seems to be the most popular, judging by YouTube videos and in talking with Customer Support at Rockler (who also sells an I-Semble brand kit that I'm not particularly interested in).

Murphy Wall Beds claims that springs hold their tension better and for longer than pistons. I also like that the springs are a more compact mechanism - with the pistons you always see the pistons above the mattress on the sides, but the spring mechanism is hidden by the mattress at all times, unless you look between the mattress and the sides.


Anyone have any comments, experience, what to look for thoughts on these?


And also a secondary thought is that the cabinet one needs to build for these things, if not actually a built-in, probably should be constructed as a flat-panel ready-to-assemble unit so that we could take it apart to move it to another room/house. The Create-A-Bed design simply screws things into end grain, but other designs leverage pocket screws from the back/top where they're not normally visible. Since I have a domino, what are the thoughts on using the DF500 knock-down hardware for these nominal ¾" panels? I'm sure there are other knock-down hardware choices as well.

Thanks in Advance for any thoughts, hints, etc.



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Offline squall_line

  • Posts: 1720
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2022, 11:02 AM »
Springs should last longer, in my estimation, especially if not in constant use.  Struts/shocks always seem to find a way to dry out or otherwise lose their resilience over time.  I think the struts on the hood and trunk of my car lasted about 3 years before they went out again.

If you don't make a built-in, determine how you will attach whatever it is to the wall.  I'm assuming the murphy bed systems themselves attach to the wall and/or floor, but if you will also build secondary cabinets around them, make sure they are attached securely.

Making the cabinet knock-down will depend on the design/size.  Keep in mind that one can make knock-downs with methods other than knock-down connectors, depending on what the design is. If it's "just" a 3/4" plywood box, the 500 connector system is certainly an option.

Offline smorgasbord

  • Posts: 205
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2022, 01:34 PM »
Thanks. I'm trying to go with a Shaker Style frame and flat panel design, and maybe not use plywood at all. ¾" stock for the frame and ¼" for the panels, but I need to design the sides to have thick solid wood where the hinge/spring mechanism attaches, and even that may not be strong enough.


The outer cabinet is essentially two side about 16" wide by 88" tall, with a solid top, a front kickplate (not very tall), and a rear headboard.

Attaching to the wall isn't a problem at all - just L brackets from the cabinet top to the studs.

Suggestions what what to use for knockdown hardware appreciated. I suppose I could just use pocket screws from the back (and top for the top plate) since it's not like this is going to taken down and reset up more than once or twice in its lifetime. But, I'd like to consider something better.

Offline Gj12

  • Posts: 108
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2022, 05:52 PM »
I’ve used murphybeds.com. I went with the high use option. 6 years of daily use with a teenager and still going strong.

Offline Crazyraceguy

  • Posts: 2353
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2022, 06:10 PM »
I wish I could remember the name of the hardware I used. It was a spring type, no gas struts though, it was real heavy-duty. I built two of them, identical, for two of the officers in a fire house. This was 4-5 years ago, so I just don't recall the brand. Solid Oak frames and a full 3/4" thick particle board outer skin, with HPL on both sides. It had a winding mechanism to balance the weight. Looks like it was longer than I thought? the pic data says July of '15
CSX
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Offline WastedP

  • Posts: 438
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2022, 11:00 AM »
I have sold and installed dozens of Murphy beds made with the hardware from the Canadian Murphy bed company.  The majority of those beds were "cheapest possible" cabinetry, which means 3/4" edgebanded melamine panels.  There was also a decent demand for beds to match adjacent cabinetry.  For those, I used edgebanded hardwood ply, and then applied either mouldings or cabinet door/wainscot panels to the ply.  I generally found no use for the aluminum frame hardware, the weight difference for steel just wasn't enough to warrant that.  A queen size panel is going to take two people to attach to the mechanism, no matter what it's made of. 

The spring system is easy to adjust for balance.  Add or remove springs, in two different weights.  Wear a headlamp and climb inside with the panel closed (no mattress) to make the changes, then test it.  I did a bed that had coreten metal panels and applied mouldings that was probably the heaviest bed I installed (queen size), and I could've added more blue (heavy) springs if needed.

Knockdown furniture hardware works fine to hold the cabinet together, as most of the stress on the cabinet is straight down on full end panels.  The top is anchored to the wall at the back, and the leverage the end panel height provides reduces stresses on it.  The mechanism does need to be through-bolted to the panels, so plan ways to conceal the hardware, if desired.

Murphybeds.com used to have the basic cabinet panel cutlists available on their site.  If there isn't one there, let me know as I probably still have a pdf of it in one of the dark corners of a hard drive somewhere.

Offline smorgasbord

  • Posts: 205
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2022, 12:02 PM »
Knockdown furniture hardware works fine to hold the cabinet together, as most of the stress on the cabinet is straight down on full end panels.  The top is anchored to the wall at the back, and the leverage the end panel height provides reduces stresses on it.  The mechanism does need to be through-bolted to the panels, so plan ways to conceal the hardware, if desired.

Thanks much for the info, just what I was looking for.
Questions:
1) Can the end/side panels be made from traditional hardwood frame and panel instead of a plywood sheet? I'd design it such that there would be a ¾" solid wood rail heading across at the height of the mechanism so it would bolt to that rail. Or, do I somehow need to have plywood there?

Another option is to have the side panel be thicker than ¾". I've done this in my kitchen and bathroom cabinets by having the front stile only be 1.5" thick while the rest is ¾". It makes for a more substantial/nicer look for tall cabinets. In this case I would also have the cross rail where the mechanism attaches to also be as thick as the front stile. That would add strength where it bolts (I'll have to get longer bolts but they appear to be just flat head machine bolts) without affecting clearance. Heck, with the added thickness, maybe I could use threaded inserts that wouldn't be visible from the outside at all. Thoughts here?

2) For the face panel, are there any strength requirements? Standard seems to be ¾" plywood. Again, I'd like to do a frame and panel, with ¾" rails and stiles and ¼" panels (Shaker style look). I'd have the frame extend far enough that the metal bed frame would screw into it (not into the panels). Would this construction be strong enough? I assume the real issues are racking, but maybe I'm missing things. Alternatively, I would have to do something like ½" plywood sitting inside a ½" rabbet in a ¾" thick frame in order to have a ¼" reveal. And then I'd add fake ¼" thick material to simulate additional frame members.

3) I do have a PDF cut list from murphybeds.com. Since I want to design my own cabinet with perhaps a different top and thicker sides, I could use more dimensions. One modification is that instead of notching the top panel for so that when folded the face panel covers it, I'm looking to have a more substantial top that has some crown molding on it. There's a note in the instructions about turning some washer around on the mechanism if using crown molding, but no explanation of what's really going on there.

4) Thanks for your opinions on steel versus aluminum. Is it just the weight of the mechanism that's different, or are there strength issues? Also, given that I want a frame and panel construction, it seems the aluminum doesn't have the horizontal cross members, which means attachment would be simpler. The $200 difference isn't nothing, but if it simplifies construction it could easily be worth it to me. I do have a end of month completion time deadline, btw.

« Last Edit: November 06, 2022, 12:23 PM by smorgasbord »

Offline WastedP

  • Posts: 438
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2022, 12:16 PM »
1. For that look, I would just make a stile and rail panel with a return that caps the end of the ply/pb panel that the hardware attaches to.  It would probably be stronger to bolt to a single piece of sheet goods than putting that load on a panel's rail.  And it has to through-bolt, so if the panel covers the fasteners it looks better in my opinion.

2. For a queen bed, the panel has to be made from two sheets of 4x8 material, so the hardware includes a seam plate that joins them.  The screws for the metal hardware require 3/4" thickness to keep them from popping through the panel.  The rails provide a lot of torsional stiffness to the panel.  The finished assembly is pretty rigid.

For a shaker look, you can either apply stock to hardwood ply, or apply finished cabinet panels to the ply.

Offline smorgasbord

  • Posts: 205
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2022, 12:25 PM »
Sorry for adding to my reply while you were posting yours.

Seems like you're pushing for plywood construction. Are you saying I should not even attempt a solid wood frame and panel construction for both the face and side panels?

Offline WastedP

  • Posts: 438
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2022, 12:35 PM »
I'm saying you have to do ply or particle board sheets. A stile and rail panel isn't going to be as strong as a solid sheet of ply, since you'll be laying on the inside of it.  But there's no reason not to plant panels on, for looks.  Think of the bed itself as a single cabinet, and any mouldings, trims, and panels can be added to it.  There's a gallery here: https://4westcabinetry.com/Gallery/tabid/5290/Default.aspx that shows beds open and closed, so you can see what I'm talking about.

The only difference between steel and aluminum is the bed rail material.  The mechanism, the pivot and springs, is the same in both kits.


Offline smorgasbord

  • Posts: 205
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2022, 12:54 PM »
OK, say I do explore the plywood construction possibilities (that's assuming I can find good quality Cherry plywood quickly near me in NorCal).

For the side panels, I could easily use ¾" plywood, framed with 1" thick hardwood around the edges and with ¼" hardwood for "interior" rails and stiles - both giving me that ¼" recessed Shaker-style flat panel look. To go thicker than 1" would mean going for more panel recess, but I'd top that out at ½" for 1&¼" thick visual panels. OK.

For the face panel would I downsize to ½" plywood panels and use ¾" hardwood framing? If I stick with ¾" plywood than I'd need 1" framing and that would change mounting positions and other dimensions to get things flush when closed.

BTW, if particleboard is good enough, then frame and panel is good enough. I think plywood maybe stronger than solid wood frame and panel, but particleboard is less strong than either. And very heavy, too.


Oh, and thanks for the link to your work - looks great! I'll ask you about the crown molding on top of the Murphy bed a bit later.

Offline WastedP

  • Posts: 438
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2022, 01:12 PM »
You will be putting weight on the back side of a frame and panel.  Think of it as trying to kick a hole in a cabinet door from the inside.  A sheet of ply or pb is going to handle that better than the joints of a raised or recessed raised panel door.  You're right about pb weight.  For anything with applied mouldings, I have always used ply.  For the "biggest box, cheapest price" customer, I've done 3/4" melamine with 1/2 mm edgeband.  At that point it's not impressive looking, but these are usually getting put in basements or back rooms where appearance isn't a factor.

If you apply cab panels that are 3/4" thick, like a door, then the face of your bed will project that far, and you can do the crown and end mouldings to match that plane.  You shouldn't increase the recess to maintain overall cabinet depth because then you will greatly reduce the available mattresses you can use inside.  I have built bed cabs that were an inch or two deeper to accommodate a thicker mattress.  The manufacturer says not to do that, but it never became an issue.

I've never used sheet goods other than 3/4" thick.

Your plan for side panels sounds good.  If you leave the rail loose that goes where the hardware bolts through, you could apply it at install to conceal the fasteners.

Offline smorgasbord

  • Posts: 205
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2022, 01:20 PM »
Just to explain a bit further about thicker side panels, here are a few photos of a kitchen cabinet I did a couple decades ago:



The front stile only is 1.5" thick solid wood and cut at a 45º angle with an eased front edge. The rest of the panel frame is just ¾" solid wood. The panels are 1/4" thick solid wood, resaw from thicker boards. The inside is padded with prefinished ¼" maple plywood and some scrap spacers to make it flush.

So, it looks like the sides are 1.5" thick, which for me is a nice custom look, especially for a 8' tall cabinet.

To something similar for the side panels of the Murphy Bed cabinet, but with plywood, would look like this in cross section:


So I'd need to pad the gap on the inside of the cabinet (top of the drawing) with some ½" plywood by the mechanism, which I don't think is the right approach/look.


« Last Edit: November 06, 2022, 01:41 PM by smorgasbord »

Offline smorgasbord

  • Posts: 205
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2022, 01:39 PM »
Thinking about it a bit more, if I went with a ⅜" reveal, and shrunk the thickness down to 1.25", then my cross-section would look like this:


The rear stile can be an appliqué as well.

Or an alternate construction to get that thicker front but smooth on the inside:

In this case, I'd need/want only one good side on the plywood. And here the ½" piece will cover up any mounting hardware on the ¾" piece.


Now for the face panel, I could make the cabinet deeper than 15.875" to accommodate a thicker face panel with the trimmed edges/inside appliqué frame members. It's only ¼" thicker.  Alternatively, I could use a ½" plywood panel and then have ¾" framing around it. This seems like the better solution as it reduces weight as well. Maybe the aluminum hardware, being claimed to be stronger than the steel, means I get away with that ½" panel instead of ¾"?


And finally, since you've used the MurphyBeds.com hardware, do you use the extended leg option to have the ability to have a 12" thick mattress instead of 10"? And did you ever make the cabinet even deeper to have a shelf above the headboard to store pillows and such while the bed is closed?

Thanks again - really appreciate this.

« Last Edit: November 06, 2022, 01:43 PM by smorgasbord »

Offline smorgasbord

  • Posts: 205
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2022, 02:00 PM »
Sorry for all the posts, but I just noticed that MurphyBeds.com's instructions say that melamine is suitable for use, too. I'll call them tomorrow, but if melamine is strong enough, then frame and panel, assuming I attach hardware to the frame and not the panel, should be strong enough.

And for the face panel, doesn't the metal bed frame take all the weight? Isn't that the point of the frame and stiffeners?

Offline WastedP

  • Posts: 438
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2022, 07:15 PM »
The second of your three drawings is probably the closest to what I would use.  But again, I would try to think of the bed and it's cabinet as one thing, and all of the adornments as a separate component that you add, not replace.  This allows you to build the bed cabinet to exactly the manufacturer's specs, and then build the decorative parts to your own specs with your own systems.

The bed rails hold the mattress in place and add strength to the perimeter of the door, which is the underside of the bed when opened.  They don't support any of the weight of the mattress or the people on it, or the children who will jump on it or whatever.  You wouldn't use a five-piece cabinet door in place of ply or OSB for subfloor sheathing.  For those kind of forces, I think it's a lot to ask of a stile and rail joint to bear.


Offline smorgasbord

  • Posts: 205
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2022, 02:01 PM »
OK, I'm underway with ¾" Cherry plywood and adding ¼" solid wood to simulate frame-and-recessed-panel.

The addition of the solid wood means that the cabinet sides are a full 1" thick where the two front bolts that hold the mechanism go (Holes A & B). These bolts are 1.25" long. Obviously I could just get 1.5" long bolts (5/16"-18 thread), but I'm wondering if using threaded inserts instead would be strong enough? The advantage there is that I don't have bolt heads visible.

Thoughts? I called and got the answer I expected, which is to not deviate from the instructions because they won't assume any liability. But, I don't care about liability/lawsuits, I just want to know what's likely to work.

Offline WastedP

  • Posts: 438
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2022, 04:43 PM »
Much like a garage door spring, the amount of stored energy in that mechanism is nothing to trifle with.

Why not through-bolt through the 3/4" panel, and then apply a piece of the 1/4" trim over the top of it, without adhesive, so it could be removed in the future, if needed?

Offline smorgasbord

  • Posts: 205
Re: Murphy Bed Hardware choices?
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2022, 01:54 PM »
Why not through-bolt through the 3/4" panel, and then apply a piece of the 1/4" trim over the top of it, without adhesive, so it could be removed in the future, if needed?

I was thinking of that, but at this point that would require a relatively big modification of my design, since the front edge is beveled at 45º. If I went square at the front I could do it - maybe use some double-sided tape or a few screws from the inside to hold the ¼" trim in place.