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Wall Hung Tool Cabinet #11: Reclaiming a Tambour Door

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Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 722 days ago 2493 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: Backside of a Carcase Part 11 of Wall Hung Tool Cabinet series Part 12: Painting the Carcase »

If you’ve been following along, the space at the bottom left of the cabinet is reserved for install of a tambour (roll-up) door salvaged from the donor Hoosier cabinet. Not certain what will ultimately live in that cubby re: tools, but it’s inspired by a tambour’d cabinet Stanley sold in the 30s. New, red oak tambour doors (15”x17”) cost more than $80 per. Wow, didn’t know what a treasure I had back when I reduced the donor cabinet to a stack of component pieces. Treasure… right…  :-)

Anyway, each piece of the tambour’s ‘track’ assembly was carefully removed and set aside for later.


I’ve seen two ways to guide roll-top material in the wild: dado cuts and surface-mounted ‘tracks.’ The donor piece used the latter method, obviously, and I’ll do the same with the tool cabinet. The depth of the new cabinet is greater than the original, and some of the track pieces busted at removal. So new stuff has to be fabricated. I used a couple of the T&G cut-offs and traced the curves from the originals before heading over to the bandsaw.


With the pieces cut, everything could be sanded smooth with my non-oscillating spindle sander / drill press.

Here’s how the track should work!

What to do about the bottom of the tambour, which is missing any sort of handle or finger grip for open and close actions AND which doesn’t even have a proper bottom slat (thicker than the others, to mount a handle to). I’d like a single pull, or something that is flush to the front of the cabinet, so a solid bottom is required.

A thick piece of white oak is what’s called for… To best match the rest of the door, the piece should be culled from cabinet salvage. The Hoosier had oak ‘laminated’ along the front edge of another type of non-descript material everywhere but on the sides, so I picked a piece of shelf laminate as a donor. Here’s a before shot of the shelf board alongside the tambour door; notice the weak-looking bottom slat:

I ripped the oak strip from the larger piece at the table saw, then clamped it to the bench to attack it with the #40 scrub; there’s a dado to ‘erase’ from the backside, and whatever thickness remains is what it’ll be.

Followed up with a #7 jointer for flat (sides and edges), and the piece was ready for the next step.


Added a bevel to the piece by removing the front, top hard edge of the piece. Now to decide on a way to mate this base ‘slat’ to the door. How about gluing it by way of a rabbet?

Then the question is begged, how to cut a rabbet on a stick? #78 won’t work, fence on that is thicker that the material that will remain (I checked, believe me). I could use a sticking board, but don’t have one and don’t feel like making one just for this. How about a #93 shoulder plane? I’ll use a C. Schwarz trick he demo’d in his Handplane Essentials class in 2010.

Start by marking the line of the rabbet, then use a knife to strike it. That gives the shoulder plane all the help it needs: By riding just an edge of the plane along the line, so the corner of the iron is all that’s making contact with the stuff, a small groove is cut. (Note it’s shown being pulled, just to get the pic.)

I ran the tool across the work a number of times, closing the angle as I went until the sole was parallel to the work and I was cutting a rabbet. Huzzah!

Checked depth a few times as I went, and stopped when the door piece fit nicely into it’s new base. It was easy, and took about 4 minutes to do, start to finish. Nice!


Glue applied, clamped it to the bench, came out looking pretty good. Guess I can add ‘tambour repairman’ to the ole’ resume.



This next part you may have seen evidence of in previous pics, but didn’t ask about because you were too polite. With the cabinet assembled, but before the back was installed, a problem had to be addressed. The rough opening for the tambour is simply too big, by about 1/2”. Too much slop, so I found a finished piece of 1/2” maple from the cut-offs bin that was about the right size, sanded off the clear finish, then glued it into place. Now I have the rough opening I need. And a reprise of the teaser shot from Installment #9…

All that’s left is some kind of handle, and this tambour is ready for install!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive



16 comments so far

View GrandpaLen's profile

GrandpaLen

1380 posts in 779 days


#1 posted 722 days ago

Smitty,

My interest and anticipation have morphed into full blown envy of your having the exact tool needed every time you reach for one! ...that, and I’d love to have that cabinet, that close to completion, sitting on my bench.

Success is not accidental. – Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9134 posts in 1125 days


#2 posted 722 days ago

Len, you have a wonderful command of the written word; what you write always brings a smile to my face. You see it as close to completion, but I’m busy thinking out all the details that will (hopefully) make this thing crazy fun to have in the shop over the long haul. What’s done thusfar gives the cabinet good ‘bones,’ but what comes from this point is the looker stuff… panel doors, tool holders, maybe a mini saw till, three little drawers inside, and maybe something that slides on the front that’s not tambour. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Martyroc's profile

Martyroc

2708 posts in 812 days


#3 posted 722 days ago

Hi Smitty, I just read your entire blog series on this, all I can say is WOW! I am a big fan of reclaimed and recycled lumber, so you had me at the first installment. The work you have done thus far is incredible, and its all 100% true craftsmanship. I am excited to see the end result of this.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9134 posts in 1125 days


#4 posted 722 days ago

Martin – Welcome, glad you’re enjoying the series, it’s been fun so far. And it’s nice when things are going smoothly. Not sure if summer will slow progress or not, but one thing is certain: arranging the tools is going to be the hardest to do well and I’m somewhat intimidated by the process of layout and tool holder-thingies. But it’ll be fine by the time I get there, I’m sure. Tagging lots of LJ projects and blogs for ideas, certainly. Thanks for commenting!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View racerglen's profile

racerglen

2126 posts in 1287 days


#5 posted 721 days ago

Nice work Smitty, love the save/safe aproaches you’re using, just waiting onthe grand finale !

-- Glen, Vernon B.C. Canada

View Don W's profile

Don W

13967 posts in 1074 days


#6 posted 721 days ago

Smitty, if I made that for my shop, my wife would steal it for the house. Nice job!

-- There is nothing like the sound of a well tuned hand plane. - http://timetestedtools.wordpress.com (timetestedtools at hotmail dot c0m)

View terryR's profile

terryR

2591 posts in 815 days


#7 posted 721 days ago

Wow, Smitty! Great job re-building that tambour door and adding it to your work in progress…thanks for all the great photos, too. I know they add time to your cabinet, but some of us learn 3 things from every photo you share. Heck, I’ve never seen a shoulder plane used like that…nice tip!

This is becomming an heirloom cabinet…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Don W's profile

Don W

13967 posts in 1074 days


#8 posted 721 days ago

heirloom cabinet

for sure!

-- There is nothing like the sound of a well tuned hand plane. - http://timetestedtools.wordpress.com (timetestedtools at hotmail dot c0m)

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9134 posts in 1125 days


#9 posted 721 days ago

We’d each like to believe at least one our kids or grandkids recognize the work we’re doing today as having value. So yeah, I hope this cabinet doesn’t hit the curb on big item pickup one Thursday morning far into the future, but I can’t control that. So I’m building it for me. And that’s enough for now. Good topic of discussion.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Dave's profile (online now)

Dave

10947 posts in 1346 days


#10 posted 720 days ago

Smitty she is coming along nicely. Well documented and very interesting to read. You have me hanging in the edge of my bench.
Your Stanleys are smiling to;)

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9134 posts in 1125 days


#11 posted 719 days ago

And the edge of your bench is indeed a nice place to be, Super! Thanks for commenting!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View AnthonyReed's profile

AnthonyReed

3698 posts in 947 days


#12 posted 719 days ago

It was my inability to describe the adjustment you made to the tambour’s opening that kept me from asking, my lack of manners being as they are, it had not occurred to me that it might not be polite to ask. Whew! You saved me from revealing my crassness :)

Great save on the door Smitty.

-- ~Tony

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9134 posts in 1125 days


#13 posted 719 days ago

^lol, Tony! Tambour adventures almost over…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6694 posts in 1658 days


#14 posted 717 days ago

Good show!, I like the shoulder plane trick. I had seen the filler strip in the last pic being glued on but I wasnt sure what it was and didnt ask. Cant wait to see the finished product.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4749 posts in 1129 days


#15 posted 716 days ago

I always thought, incorrectly, that those roll tops had some type of mechanical / structural interlock. I never knew that were held together and flexed through a fabric backing.

You are doing a great job.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

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