The Editors Mailbox

The Editors Mailbox

Amazing Bed in a Box

comments (29) December 9th, 2013 in blogs

DillonRyan Dillon Ryan, assistant editor
thumbs up 415 users recommend

MacPhersons Bed-box looks like a standard blanket box from the outside.
As the lid folds back, the inner workings of the box are exposed.
Pulling the handles from the box frees the front face and allows the bed rails to unfold and extend.
The dovetailed slats and central support add rigidity to the support the mattress.
The Box-bed was made to accept a lightweight, portable futon mattress.
MacPhersons Bed-box looks like a standard blanket box from the outside. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

MacPherson's Bed-box looks like a standard blanket box from the outside.

This Box-bed was created and designed by Robert MacPherson to fit a rather strange niche.


Medieval re-enactor MacPherson designed this knockdown bed to be used during his extended trips to Pennsic, an annual event that gathers more than 10,000 re-enactors and medieval enthusiasts for two weeks of life in the Middle Ages. It is typical for campers at the event to construct elaborate campsites, knockdown beds and furniture that are easy transport.


The majority of the project is made of select pine; the panels are birch plywood. The finish is semi-gloss polyurethane.



More on Beds

Build Storage into Any Bed

Greene & Greene Bed

Free Pencil-Post Bed Plan

The lock and most of the hinges were hand made out of necessity, as the dimensions MacPherson needed were unavailable. He used 16 gauge steel to form each piece, applying a blue-grey oxide finish with a torch and finishing with polyurethane to prevent corrosion.


"I did use screws to make things easier on myself," MacPherson admits. While the use of threaded fasteners wasn't feasible until the late 15th century, he "never intended this to be a pure project. Broadly speaking, this bed-box is to medieval as steampunk is to Victorian."


According to MacPherson, the most difficult and rewarding part of the build was ensuring that all of the unfolding, interlocking, and movable pieces worked in conjunction. "I have pages of notes, sketches, and a 1/6 scale model," exclaims MacPherson. "Most of them represent dead ends, but it's all part and parcel to a prototype."


MacPherson's work resulted in a stowable unit that weighs about 100 pounds and can be brought to a medieval camping event, equipped with a futon mattress and unfolded to become a full-sized bed fit for medieval royalty.

posted in: blogs, box, pine, bed, birch, polyurethane

Comments (29)

benchdog07 benchdog07 writes: cool idea where are the plans
Posted: 9:54 pm on January 23rd

Wood-Chuck Wood-Chuck writes: @james. Thanks the plan was fun to draw. I have added several more medieval pieces now, There is a the original king size bed, a double, and 2 versions of a single bed. Plus I have added a folding table, stool and chair. Should be some fun woodworking!
Posted: 11:08 pm on March 16th

james3one james3one writes: First, Bruce, great design and construction. Love it.

Second, Scadians in my area have gotten a look at your work and now joiners like me are expected to be just as clever and make more stuff like this. You should feel bad about that.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go and be clever. I'll be needing more coffee.
Posted: 11:54 am on January 31st

LandMade LandMade writes: Am I seeing correctly that the carrying handles on the ends of the box must be removed in order to unfold the unit? No matter, its still very cool.
Posted: 10:00 pm on January 11th

Wood-Chuck Wood-Chuck writes: Hi Everyone
As promised I have finished the plan for the Bed-In-A-Box. it is available at:
I have setup an additional discount code just for followers of Fine Woodworking Enter FWWREADERS at checkout to recieve an additional 20% off the already low price. I would love to see and post pictures on the website for anyone that builds the Bed-In-A-Box.
Happy Holidays and all the best for 2014.

Bruce (Wood Chuck)
You will have to copy and paste the link as I can't post a hyperlink in this comment section.
Posted: 11:45 am on December 25th

Wood-Chuck Wood-Chuck writes: That is such a cool project. I just about have a set of plans ready to go, I have all of the math worked out so everything will fit back in the box excluding a mattress. I'll post a message when it is ready to go.
Bruce (
Posted: 5:20 pm on December 22nd

DillonRyan DillonRyan writes: Thank you everyone who shared their interest in this amazing piece of ingenuity.

To answer Mikes8500: Every part, excluding the mattress stows in the box or is part of it.

Unfortunately, Mr. MacPherson is not looking to sell plans or furnish us here at Fine Woodworking with them, but he states that anyone wishing to recreate or re-engineer this bed may do so.

Posted: 9:25 am on December 16th

user-3043205 user-3043205 writes: Very neat the locking with the dovetail slats that are stowed in the closed box. Couldn't be any stronger! Nice job !!
Posted: 7:10 pm on December 15th

AndreSerrano AndreSerrano writes: I also vote to publish that project, it is amazing and I´ll apreciate to build it here in Brazil.

Posted: 6:47 pm on December 15th

delmer delmer writes: Yes! Another vote to publish a detailed article either in the magazine or online and to make detailed plans available.
Posted: 4:48 pm on December 15th

lascotty lascotty writes: Very Cool, plans would be great. Thank for showing us your bed in a box.
Posted: 10:01 am on December 15th

GPolarbear GPolarbear writes: Another vote to publish a detailed article either in the magazine or online and to make detailed plans available. I'd gladly pay for the plans for this work of art! My wife wants one NOW!
Posted: 5:08 pm on December 14th

drjedmiston drjedmiston writes: Would lo e detalles planas for this project
Posted: 2:09 pm on December 14th

Chet65 Chet65 writes: Very awesome bed. There are a lot more pictures at this link. Beautifully thought out project.
Posted: 12:52 pm on December 14th

ForesthillCA ForesthillCA writes: Ingenious! Let's have an article if possible or at least some rough plans.
Posted: 11:59 am on December 14th

Mikes8500 Mikes8500 writes: Awesome project! I'm assuming the slats and middle divider don't stow in the box?

Also how do those side flaps on the headboard lock?
Posted: 11:38 am on December 14th

henrylm henrylm writes:
Posted: 9:17 am on December 14th

rkwayne rkwayne writes: Fantastic. Beautifully done. I would make this just for the sake of it. Well thought out. FWW MUST publish this!
Posted: 8:09 am on December 14th

hkc94501 hkc94501 writes: You should file a patent!
Posted: 8:05 am on December 14th

GoBlu GoBlu writes: another vote for an article with plans I'd be willing to purchase. Makes more sense than a Murphy bed for my situation. Better than abide a bed or futon as well.
Posted: 7:52 am on December 14th

kenerv1 kenerv1 writes: FW Editors:
Remarkable work. Please get this in FW or online in detail and soon.
Posted: 6:43 am on December 14th

Dakaman Dakaman writes: I've seen this bed elsewhere on the web and am pleased to see it show up here. I too would love to see it as a FWW project. I'm guessing that we would need a supplier for the hardware though if that were to happen.
Posted: 6:12 am on December 14th

caub caub writes: That is definitely awesome! The alternative to a Murphy bed came to mind as well. Though my wife would be more likely to come camping more frequently if this was our sleeping arrangements.

Another request for plans / full article of construction.

Posted: 9:06 pm on December 13th

Artex Artex writes: I´m ready to tackle something like this, it´s a most creative project. Would you consider sharing it on a magazine article? This is the kind of stuff we love to see at FWM
Posted: 8:12 am on December 12th

gparas gparas writes: Holy crap, that's awesome!
Posted: 1:13 pm on December 11th

BillRick BillRick writes: This would be a great alternative to a Murphy bed in a spare room.
I would like to see construction details in a feature project.
Posted: 10:27 pm on December 10th

Dodoak Dodoak writes: Brilliant. There are some interesting articles on Campaign furniture out there, but this takes the concept to a whole new level. You lost me on the hand made hardware...whew.Really cool.
Posted: 11:08 am on December 10th

Woodsmyth1 Woodsmyth1 writes: This is a truly amazing work of art, engineering and craftsmanship! I, too would love to purchase plans. Congratulations on your elegant design.
Posted: 7:09 am on December 10th

ThomasII ThomasII writes: That's awesome, would you provide plans for download/purchase?
Posted: 5:09 pm on December 9th

You must be logged in to post comments. Log in.

Advertise here for as little as $50. Learn how

Save up to 51% on Fine Woodworking


Become a Better Woodworker

ABOUT THE EDITORS MAILBOX editors report from the woodworking front lines. Check in every weekday for news, information, projects, and answers to questions from Fine Woodworking readers everywhere.

Learn about our new format!

Archive: Temporarily unavailable. Stay tuned and sorry for the inconvenience.