Bed in a Box

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Project by dsuelzle posted 02-27-2016 07:26 PM 2999 views 17 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was looking for a stowable bed that I could pull out and put an air mattress on for guests. I stumbled across Robert Macpherson’s design for a knock-down bed that he uses for medieval reenactments. His plans are here: Here’s a queen size version featured on Fine Woodworking:

MacPherson’s is an ingenious design. I first built a prototype from plywood. From that prototype, I learned what would become the most difficult mechanical challenge of the project: getting the sides to fold in so that the whole box would close nicely, without putting stress on the hinges. I tried a variety of attempts, including constructing my own wooden hinges, which turned out to be a failure. It turns out, the solution was quite simple: bolt two butt hinges together, to make a double-pinned hinge. What this allows is for the sides to be offset when they are folded up, so that the box closes up tightly, as well as giving them some “swing” ability. This means when the whole thing is folded up, the wings can be stored at a diagonal (see photo) and they don’t interfere with one another, so no undue stress is placed upon the hinge or the wood. It’s a bit hard to explain, but if you ever build one, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. I wonder if this is why MacPherson altered his original design to make the bed fold up lengthwise instead. You can see his version 2 here: It’s a good solution, except that when it’s folded up it takes up nearly twice the footprint space as the first design. I don’t have that kind of room in my house, so I stuck with version one.

It’s also got a nice little shelf mechanism that holds the lid up to function as the headboard.

All in all, this was a really fun and challenging project to build. It’s a rock-solid bench when folded up, and a rock-solid bed when unfolded.

6 comments so far

View Wolfdrool's profile


60 posts in 4684 days

#1 posted 02-27-2016 09:06 PM

This is great. The double hinge is a good solution!

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


10515 posts in 3696 days

#2 posted 02-28-2016 02:14 AM

Great idea! Looks fantastic.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Edwardnorton's profile


203 posts in 3214 days

#3 posted 02-28-2016 02:58 AM

Nice idea & job well done! Unfortunately I get an error when trying to go to the page as listed. ( .. oh well perhaps another time..

-- EdwardNorton

View Ivan's profile


17056 posts in 4154 days

#4 posted 02-28-2016 05:01 AM

WOW! Impressive work, what an awesome idea. Also very practical when you have guests occasionaly.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4154 days

#5 posted 02-28-2016 03:17 PM

You have done a fine piece of work on this bed. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View SuperCubber's profile


1213 posts in 3571 days

#6 posted 03-05-2016 02:51 PM

Wow, nice bed! As a bench it looks gorgeous as well.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC

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