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Re: Roll Top desk repair in Los Angeles area

>Hi, I was looking for info to repair a roll top bread box and came across these instructions. Doesn't sound to bad of a do-it-yourself project. The attached used denim but I've also seen some using canvas and woodworkers hide glue.
One challenge was making the tambour from scratch.

Making the slats is easy. Take a 3/4" board, sand it on both sides, and make sure that the edges are parallel and run through the jointer. Then round over one edge with a 3/8" round over bit on both sides. On the table saw rip the half round edge at a thickness of 1/2". Run the half round slat, using a little jig, one pass over the jointer to smooth the back and to ensure that it can run free in the grooves of the upper desk side panels. The little jig is just a 3/4" by 2" board, with a stop block at the end and with the same length as the slats. Next run the sawn edge of the remaining board over the jointer, and start rounding over again. I used five boards at the time to speed up the process. Created 38 slats and kept 35. The plan calls for 34 slats, but I wanted to build the tambour with 35 -- just in case --. I can later cut off one slat if it is indeed too much. Sand the slats, ease over the edges, and make them free of dust.

For fabric I used a medium weight denim, washed it so it is pre-shrunk, and ironed it. I found very little helpful information how to glue the slats on the denim. In the end I followed the instructions that came with the tambour glue (a PVC-E glue) I bought from Van Dyke's Restorers in the USA. Apparently they have a quick way of applying glue to all slats, but I did it one slat at a time.

Cut the denim to a width of at least 2" less than the slat length. Spread the denim on a flat surface and clam the bottom 3/4" to 1" of denim under a straight edge. This excess material will be used later to attach the lift bar. Secure the top edge of the denim with duct tape just so that the denim flat but not overly stretched. For the left edge of the slats clamp another piece of straight wood perpendicular to the bottom straight edge and about 1" to the left of the edge of the denim. Lay out the slats in the order you want to place them, back side up.
Apply glue to the back of the first slat leaving 1" inch on each end without glue. Let the glue set for a few minutes while doing the next step. Apply about the same amount of glue as you would do for a normal wood joint.
Apply glue to the back of the next slat leaving 1" inch on each end without glue. Let the glue set for a few minutes while placing the other slat on the denim. Push the slat against the left edge and the bottom edge or slat and press down while gradually lowering the right end of the slat. Apply pressure on the slat with a roller or rubbing hard with a towel. Repeat this step for the next slat, and so on.
Let everything dry for at least one hour after the last slat is glued before handling the tambour. Attach the lift bar with glue to the excess denim at the bottom. Trim any excess denim at the top and the bottom. The tambour needs 24 hours to cure before you should place it in the upper desk and operate it.
My concern was that glueing with fabric would be messy, but the method from Van Dyke's Restorers makes it an easy and clean job.

My other concern was about the flexibility of the tambour. I could see that it would bend easily towards the fabric side, but I had a problem imagining it bending the other way as is needed in the S-curve of the upper desk. After the tambour was glued up I found that there is just enough flexibility when using the above construction method.

I hope that this helps future tambour builders.

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Roll Top desk repair in Los Angeles area
Re: Roll Top desk repair in Los Angeles area
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