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Build A Murphy Bed (3): Bed Bottom Faces Forward

May 14, 2018

The two-part bottom panel assembly is about aesthetics, not structure

This video is part of a series on Making a Murphy bed. the series landing page is here.

Official Transcript:

I'm going to start out working on the platform first. Once I clamp this up, I'll be able to set it aside and work on some other projects while the glue is drying. Now, pretty much, the whole project is just made out of plywood, and a lot of times, the instructions, they'll say, "Take veneer tape to cover up the edge of the plywood."

Slick edge banding tip

I don't like to work with veneer tape; I'm still enough of the trim guy that I would rather put a piece of solid wood around here. And so I've developed a method that I think works really, really well, and that is to create a trim piece. And if you look at this trim piece, it just has a couple of small 1/8 x 1/8 rabbets in the edge. And what that allows me to do is put it up against a piece of plywood like this and dress up that piece of plywood without having to make this a totally flushed sanded surface. If I flipped it over like this, I'd have to make a perfect sanded surface the whole way, and that's just really, really hard to do, to make that perfect sanded surface like that.

But if I use this, I create this purposeful step and it makes it really, really easy to trim out. All my plywood surfaces are going to be exposed, but I do have to take into account for this 3/4 x 3/4 inch thickness in everything that I do.

The bottom panel is made with two pieces of plywood

Now, these are the two pieces of plywood, they're going to make the back of the box that the bed's actually going to sit on. This is what will be seen when the bed's folded up. You're going to see this plywood. Now, I could work really hard and try to get just a perfect joint in that veneer where the two splice together, but for this bed, what I wanna do is I'm going to do an inlay of cherry in that seam where the two come together, one long inlay of thin cherry, and then I'm wanna do a couple of cross pieces just to give it some design.

But the first thing I've gotta do is cut these two pieces to length. Now, they're 27-7/8 inches wide. Again, that all came from working on my story pull and they need to be 80 and 1/8 inches tall. So I'm going to go ahead and mark out 80 and 1/8. I've got the two pieces clamped back-to-back exact, and I'm wanna just cut 'em with my track saw.

So, when I'm joining these two pieces together, I don't really need just a super-strong structural joint because all of the wood that goes on the back side of it is going to add to the strength; I just want something that gives me great alignment and holds the joint together until I add all the other parts to give it strength.

Join the panel pieces with dominos

What I wanna do is use the domino about every six to eight inches, and I'm only going to be putting glue where the dominoes go, not in the rest of the joint. And part of the reason for that is I don't wanna have a whole lot of glue squeezing out some place else. But I found those dominoes do a great job of giving me enough strength to work with this panel but also keeping things really well-aligned.

I'm going to go ahead and lay out four dominoes about every six inches. I use some long pipe clamps to pull the whole thing together. This top surface is what's most important to me, so that's what I wanna put my layout marks, and I'll make the domino cuts coming from the top side. I'll start at two inches in from the edge

I'll just come back two inches from this and put another. Now I don't think I'm going to get confused to where I'm at, but I'm just going to go ahead and put a couple of marks that show me where the top is.

So, here's the size dominoes that I'm going to be using, and I'm actually going to set the machine to cut a little deeper than I would need to and a little wider, so there's going to be a fair amount of play in this joint. When I've got this meet to line up and I'm going to be doing it by myself, it's much more important to me to have a little play in forgiveness than to try and get things super-tight.

Again, I'm not looking for the ultimate, ultimate, strongest joint; I just need to have some strength until I can get this panel attached to the rest of the bed platform.

I'm going to start a seam on the back panel by putting a little bit of glue in each one of these domino holes and putting the domino in there, then I'll just add some glue to the other half of the panel and clamp the whole thing together.

Use glue sparingly—avoid squeeze-out

Doesn't take just a lot of glue. It's one of the things that I learned the hard way first time I did this, I had glue just squeezing out everywhere. And I may have some glue squeeze out on this, but hopefully not too terrible much.

Now align these domino holes to be pretty well in the center of the plywood. I'm trying to put 'em in... Although the hole's oversized, I'm trying to put 'em pretty much in the middle of the hole.

I have put these panels together before using pocket screws. And you don't have to wait for the clamps that way, but the downside for that is it's a little bit harder to get alignment. Now you could use a combination of pocket screws and these dominoes, and that could work really, really well. The only issue for me is I'd be afraid that I'd find on of those pocket screws while I'm routing in for my inlay piece. So I wanna just be safe and we'll just have a little bit of clamping time. I'll bring... Push this back and bring my other panel in.

Alright. Well, that's the hardest part, getting the first one started in. Just going to roll this clamp up. We're trying to make sure that I've got that lined up about perfectly.

There we go. And the dominoes are just lining up and pulling it together really, really nicely.

That is just about as perfectly flat as you could ever get anything. I'm going to bring a couple more clamps in from the top. Okay. Got this panel pulled together just the way I want it. Now I just need to let it dry for 30 to 45 minutes anyway, and then I'll be able to come back and do the inlay here and my two cross-inlay pieces, which don't conceal a joint, they just add a little bit of style. I'm going to set this piece aside, and we'll go and start working on the other parts of the platform.

Previous segment: 2/ Using Story Poles

The next segment will be on 4/ Bed Box Sides and Bottom to continue the construction process.

See the whole series here: A Wall Bed That Even Murphy Can Make

—A recovering production trim carpenter, Gary Streigler is a partner in Craftsman Builders in Northwest Arkansas.

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