Introduction: Flat Pack Folding Plywood Sofa
In this guide, I'll show you how I made this flat pack, folding sofa from less than a single sheet of plywood. This modern design sofa is great for creating a bit of extra seating, while still being super low profile when folded away. It takes less than 10 seconds to set up and is all hinged so no need for any fiddle screws or bolts.
It should take around a day to make and can be made using really simple power tools. A circular saw and a drill. You can also use a table saw if you have one, or even achieve it with just a hand saw.
For this project you will need;
- Circular Saw (USA)
- Circular Saw (UK)
- Drill (USA)
- Drill (UK)
- Self Centering Drill Bit (USA)
- Self Centering Drill Bit (UK)
- Wood Glue (USA)
- Wood Glue (UK)
- Polyurethane Wood Finish (USA)
- Polyurethane Wood Finish (UK)
- Brass Hinge (USA)
- Brass Hinge (UK)
- Brass Piano Hinge (USA)
- Brass Piano Hinge (UK)
Step 1: Cut
This project can be made with less than one full sheet of plywood. I used 18mm thick plywood that I got from my local DIY shop. I can't fit a full sheet into my car, so like most big stores, they can often cut them down for you a bit.
I took my cutting guide and they did two cuts for me, the back section, the seat section and the remainder. You can download free plans for this on my website HERE.
Step 2: Piano Hinge
I lined up the seat of the sofa, to the top end of the back. These two pieces hinge along the bottom, so need to sit flush at the top. I used a piano hinge for the full length of the seat. This won't actually take that much strain but helps spread the load across the seat.
I did put one screw each end of the hinge and tested that it was all lined up and working well, then I went along the full width and screwed it into place.
I've always been terrible at fitting hinges, and one of the reasons is I can never seem to line up the holes with the centre of the hinges. I found these on Amazon, they are self-centring drill bits, or hinge drill bits. They have a spring loaded drill bit that pushes out and ensures that the holes are fitted in the middle of the hinges. It really helped when drilling loads of holes in the project!
Step 3: Screw
I used some brass wood screws and screwed down the piano hinge. The length was also quite important as the screws can't be any longer than the 18mm plywood.
Step 4: 15° Recline
I did some research online and found that 15° is the ideal recline for a sofa back. Now I'm pretty terrible at maths and working out angles. So I played around with the recline until I got something I was happy with, and leaned it against the wall so it was supported.
I then took a scrap thin piece of plywood and traced out this shape left on it. These are the legs that will support the weight of the sofa seat. This is quite an odd shape, so this was by far the easiest way to do this.
Step 5: Legs
Transfering this to the offcut piece of plywood, I then cut it out using the circular saw. I set up some guides to help me get a nice straight cut with the saw. To save as much material as possible I didn't run the circular all the way to the edge, and used a hand saw to do the final bit. I wasn't sure how much extra wood I was going to need for the supports, so I didn't want to waste anything!
Step 6: It All Hinges on This...
Next, I fitted the legs onto the base of the seat. So the seat folds up onto the back of the sofa. And on the underside of the seat, the legs fold out. I again used my self-centring drill bit to predrill the holes for the hinges and drilled them into the wood. These hinges are shorter than the long piano hinge, and each leg has 2 of them on.
Step 7: Folding
The main folding section is now done.
Step 8: Support
I cut down a thin strip of plywood to use for supports. There are 5 pieces. The most important is a long piece attached to the back, right underneath the seat in the middle. The bulk of the weight pushes down here so this one is quite important. I also added some 45-degree mitres to this piece so the legs wouldn't catch it as they swung open.
Then there are two more on the outsides of each of the legs. At the bottom, there are 2 more thin pieces that help guide and secure the legs in place when they are up. These are not as important as the ones above, but they do help it feel a little bit more secure overall!
I just used some wood glue and screwed these into place.
Step 9: Triangles
I wanted to add just a little bit more support at the back, this will help prevent it from leaning back too far. These were in my original sketches but halfway through the project I decided they weren't needed... then at the end, I decided they were. So using the same method as before, I held a bit of scrap wood against the outside and sketched this onto it.
Transferred this to the plywood again and cut this out. This time I used some 100mm tall hinges and screwed these to the back of the sofa.
Step 10: Finish
I used some clear matt polyurethane finish for this project. I went over the whole sofa with some 360 grit just to smooth it out a little and remove any pencil marks on the wood.
I brushed on two coats of the wood leaving a good 6 hours in between the two coats. I then did yet another very gentle sanding with 360 grit to smooth it out. This finish does add a lot of protection to the wood and leaves it with a smooth almost plastic like feeling.
Step 11: Leather
When moving the sofa around, the seat area had a tendency to fall open. I toyed with a few different ideas on fixings. I was going to use some magnets drilled flush, but I decided I didn't like how much they would stand out, so I decided to make a few leather straps.
I cut a few strips of veg tan leather and soaked them in water for 10mins. I added my logo to each strap, not strictly necessary but thought it would look cool! I then dyed them dark brown and attached some leather snaps. Then using some 5min epoxy I glued the other end directly onto the plywood. These look really classy and work a treat.
Step 12: Final Images
Here are the final images.
I’m really happy with how this project turned out. I love the way it looks and it is actually really comfortable. I will be making some cushions for this sofa in a few weeks, so make sure to subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss that.
Step 13: Video
This is entered into the Woodworking Contest. If you enjoyed this, please vote for me below :)