Murphy Shelf

Introduction: Murphy Shelf

About: I like to make things. Art, inventions, tools, ukuleles, etc...

I built an awesome Murphy bed for our guest room last summer which needed a bedside shelf and a light for reading, etc… This instructable is about how I designed and built the Murphy Shelf. If you like it vote for me in the Shelving Contest. Thanks.

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Step 1: Design Ideation

The ideal solution would be something like a vanishing act. The shelf would be out of the way when the bed is stored. But it would easily spring into action when the bed is deployed.

I visualized a shelf and light that could swing in and out as needed.

Step 2: Prototyping

I had some position hinges in my stash that are hard to move, but hold a position when they stop. I wasn’t sure they would work. So I mocked up a test. Result: good, but a bit too springy. Perhaps 2 hinges would be better. More tests. Result: Yes, 2 hinges will work very well.

Step 3: Plan

Writing the instructable outline served as the rough planning stage.

Step 4: Cut Out the Parts

I had leftover maple veneer plywood from the Murphy bed so that’s what I used.

Step 5: Figure Out How the Light Will Work

I mounted a few strip light LEDs on a scrap of wood. This allows them to be centered in the glass, and pointed in the direction I want the light to go. The frosted shade measures 2.5”x8”. I used a hole saw and a fly cutter to make a groove the exact size of the glass. Of course I did several test cuts before cutting on the final wood part. I found a switch I liked in my box of switches and fitted that into the light’s top. For simplicity I’m powering the LEDs with a 9 volt battery. That way I won’t need a cord. A battery holder under the shelf will be accessible to change the battery when necessary.

Step 6: Edge Banding

I used an iron and a heat gun. For flat areas the iron works best. For the inside curve the heat gun was better. Edge banding is not fun to do, but the results are nice after some sanding.

Step 7: Glue-up

I didn’t trust the screws to align the parts perfectly square, so I glued and clamped it with a square corner brace before driving in the screws.

Step 8: Varnish

I used the same water based poly as on the bed cabinet.

Step 9: Hook Up the Light

I screwed the battery holder to the bottom and fed the wires through. Mounted the switch in the small round cap. I pushed in the LED stick and soldered the black wire to the negative lead. I extended the wires so I could reach them when the glass was on. Red wire connected to the switch, and the switch to the positive lead. Then I screwed the wood cap on. Test.

Step 10: Mounting

and done...If you like it vote for me in the Shelving Contest. Thank you.

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    6 Discussions

    Nick Nortier
    Nick Nortier

    Question 9 hours ago on Step 6

    Did you use an adhesive to apply the edge banding? It looks great but the way.


    Answer 8 hours ago

    The edge banding has hot melt glue on one side. The iron melts it and it sticks to the plywood.


    1 day ago

    Well Done Scotto!! this is an amazing build! I like that the all the moving parts are smooth, and you made a complicated build look less intimidating. CHEERS!


    Reply 1 day ago


    Alex in NZ
    Alex in NZ

    3 days ago

    This is beautiful! It just fits perfectly (physically and stylistically) with the bed. Well done, and thank you for sharing :-)