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Modern Living

The next two pieces I’m building are indeed a stretch outside the norm of what I’ve been doing these past two years here in the wood shop. The first piece is a fold away bed with side table and the folding bed hardware dictates that plywood be used for the carcass construction.

Habinet- modern living in small spaces

The folding mechanism works with a pair of pistons that raise and lower the bed so if solid wood was used there would be the potential of wood movement issues and the pistons getting pushed or pulled slightly out of line. This in turn would cause the entire system to break down creating both unhappy clients and a less than ideal piece of furniture. So plywood it is and yesterday I picked up some 3/4″ cherry. (after finally getting my ‘vehicular troubles’ sorted out!)

The plywood I’m using is a high quality veneer core and is ‘good’ on two sides meaning it doesn’t have a dedicated ‘face’ side. Some cheaper plywoods on the market have only one good face and usually a secondary wood for the back veneer. This is alright when only one side is seen but the bed panels will be seen when its folded up and then the interior will be seen when the bed is in use.

The cherry veneer is a nice looking product that’ll sit well and be extremely stable for the required purpose. Now the fun part- dimensioning it. To answer the obvious question- No…I won’t be using my sweet ‘ol Cororate Kangaroo 28″ rip saw…no, I think I’ll either be using a hand held circular saw or a portable table saw. A friend is coming over on Saturday morning to dimension a large 6″ x 6″ fir beam on the portable table saw so we may rip all of the plywood to size at the same time. Once I have the plywood dimensioned I’ll then add face frames and end caps using solid wood- no edge tape or thin veneer applications. These secondary elements will be done downstairs in my shop with hand tools. For the front edges I’m planning on a full two inch strip of solid cherry- this allows me the freedom of shaping the edges and beveling pieces as if they were solid wood throughout. The back edges will get thinner strips in the 1″ neighbourhood.

One interesting part of the design is while the bed is folded away during the day time hours, I’m making a table top that will fold down from the underside of the bed- so we now have a piece of furniture that has dual purpose. My clients live in a small urban space here in Toronto and having a form that is both a dining area as well as a sleeping area is ideal.  I’ve named this new design the ‘Habinet”.

There is a small side table that also is linked to the first piece. The table top portion of the original piece has a cut-out which the top of the side table will nestle into creating a stand to support the table top. Then when in ‘sleep mode’ the side table serves as a night stand. The side table is on casters and easily moves in and out of the way when not in use. This part of the design is all solid wood. The rough sketches attached will show you the three ‘positions’ for the design and I’m anxious to get started on it in the morning.

Stay tuned…


  1. Posted by Anthony on Jan 29th, 2010


    The Habinet is an interesting idea and a great multi-use device. It will be interesting to see how it evolves and how in the end it comes to life. I’m looking forward to updates on this. Also, considering you’re going to have plywood as a part of it, how hand tool cutting and using it in a hand-tool shop affects both you and it.



  2. Posted by Tom Fidgen on Jan 29th, 2010

    Thanks for the comments Anthony-
    the plywood is a challenge due to the over all size of the pieces. The cabinet is about 7′ high x 5′ wide x 2 ‘ deep.
    It should be fun!

  3. Posted by Andre on Jan 29th, 2010

    Hi Tom,

    Well that looks like a nice multifunctional design. Mixing plywood and solid is always ‘interesting’ (to say the least) since both require a different approach when working it.

    It’ll make for interesting reading…..I’m curious to your approach on this one!

    So where will you be doing all the fitting and semi-final assembly? I remember the Oak door project was about the maximum for your shop, wasn’t it?

  4. Posted by Tom Fidgen on Jan 29th, 2010

    thanks for the comments- yeah it’ll be interesting. I have worked with plywood (more than I care to remember back in the Set Building days) just not since moving back to the city almost 2 years ago. And as for assembly ?- my dining room will once again be the dedicated area !
    hey, you gotta do what you gotta do right?
    keep well.

  5. Posted by Brian Meeks on Jan 29th, 2010

    I can’t wait to hear more about this project. I would like to one day build a home out of shipping containers and this sort of bed would be perfect. Of course, I will need to improve my skills considerably before such an undertaking, but watching your progress seems like a great first step.

  6. Posted by Luis on Jan 29th, 2010

    Hi Tom,

    What do you mean with veneer core plywood? What I get around here is birch plywood with cherry, walnut, etc… for the faces. I can go with just one good face or two good faces for an extra fee.

    Great post!

  7. Posted by Tom Fidgen on Jan 29th, 2010

    Veneer meaning like the birch you’ve described…some mills around here only offer partical board interior which wouldn’t be suitable for this application. The veneer core is much stronger with more holding power when using mechanical fasteners like in this plan. All of the hardware brackets and plates are metal and attach with wood screws. The particle board interior wouldn’t give the strength needed for the daily use of this design. Up and down everyday, the daily use with all of the weight associated with a fold away bed.
    thanks for commenting-
    keep well.

  8. Posted by Tom Fidgen on Jan 29th, 2010

    thanks Brian,
    I too enjoy using salvaged and reclaimed lumber when ever I can in my work. I’ve been turning some mahogany lately that started out as a pallet I found next to a dumpster here in the city. At least I think its mahogany ?? sometimes hard to tell….
    keep well and thanks for the comments.
    I enjoy reading your blog!

  9. Posted by Brian Meeks on Jan 30th, 2010

    Thanks for taking the time to read my blog Tom. I am flattered. I wasn’t really clear in my earlier comment. I hope to build a home, using the giant metal containers used for shipping things like automobiles and such. They are also seen on trains and have 3 sizes of 20′ 40′ and 51′, with their widths being universal. My hope is to recycle these containers, weld them together, and then use my yet undeveloped woodworking skills to create the interior.

    That being said, I hadn’t even thought about recycling wooden containers. That would be really cool.

  10. Posted by Stephen Yeates on Feb 1st, 2010

    There was a company called BSQ Design building offices in shipping containers that had a spot at last years’ Home Show in Toronto. Although the Dream Home was a dissappointment this container office was inspiring. A perfect place for the table/Murphy bed idea! Obviously space is at a premium when you live/work in a shipping container! Also would make a small but possible workshop.

  11. Posted by Tom Fidgen on Feb 1st, 2010

    Thanks for the comment Stephen, that sounds prtty cool- I’ll have to Google the name.

  12. Posted by Brian Meeks on Feb 1st, 2010


    I just checked out BSQ, very cool. I would probably start with several containers welded together to give me 750 – 1000 sq feet. And yes, they would be pefect for workshops. (2) 51′ containers would make a nice shop.


  13. Posted by Stephen Yeates on Feb 2nd, 2010

    Check out this link, Brian!
    Only limited by your imagination.

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