Tambour for Roll top desk

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Forum topic by Eric posted 10-27-2009 09:45 PM 9873 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 3222 days

10-27-2009 09:45 PM

I am attempting to build a roll top desk and have come to the tambour top. I’m not sure what exactly I want to do so am asking everyone for their feedback on the following questions. Thank you in advance.

1. Canvass or wire for the tambour
2. Use router bits designed for this operation or use a chamfering bit
3. If canvass what kind?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


-- Eric Florida

8 replies so far

View hairy's profile


2718 posts in 3558 days

#1 posted 10-27-2009 09:50 PM

One option is to buy it. Here’s an example, look around and you will find many more.

-- My reality check bounced...

View Cranc's profile


9 posts in 3178 days

#2 posted 10-27-2009 09:56 PM

Another option is to forgo the canvas completely:

Tambour Router bit set

While not traditional, a darn nifty idea and huge time saver. Not sure where I saw this, probably that darn Norm Abram or one of the monthly wood mags. One of the November/December wood mags, now that I think of it.

-- Cranc

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593 posts in 3997 days

#3 posted 10-28-2009 06:51 AM

Please Dave keep on going with all the detail you want. I’d like to know how the experts do it.

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Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3312 days

#4 posted 10-28-2009 10:46 PM

Years ago I rebuilt several roll top desks, and had to make new roll tops. I used canvas and it worked well. I’m not sure if the type matters too much, except it should be flexible and not too stiff. I used contact cement to glue the slats on the canvas.

That said, if I were going to do it now, I would get the router bits that interlock the slats. I believe that would hold up better long term and have a better look. Just my opinion.

Good luck, I’m anxious to hear how you chose and how it turns out.


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117117 posts in 3602 days

#5 posted 10-29-2009 12:15 AM

Thanks Dave that was very interesting an informative a well tuned production.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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593 posts in 3997 days

#6 posted 10-29-2009 02:27 AM

Thank you Dave, that was very interesting.

It’s always good to compare your own methods and ideas with those of the pros.

Funny thing, when designing in SketchUp, one of my priorities is always trying to integrate the desired look with the ease of fabrication once in the shop. When you think things thoroughly at the design stage you discover that you can easily achieve the very same look in many different ways. And not all are as easy to make as the rest.

View sis's profile


13 posts in 3502 days

#7 posted 01-19-2012 10:27 PM

Has anyone had trouble with the tambour. I bought the router bit set, but it doesnt seem to roll right.
thanks, sis

View handi's profile


141 posts in 4465 days

#8 posted 01-21-2012 06:28 AM


I shot the demo video for Rockler's tambour bit set.

It worked well, uses the cable system. Also has the roll top desk look. If you were doing a Seymour Bros. dresser then the tapered tamboura would be more authentic.


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