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Thread: Roll Top Desk Repair

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Harrisville, PA
    Posts
    1,673

    Question Roll Top Desk Repair

    Hi All,

    My Mom has a roll top desk with a cloth type backing. The backing is ripped splitting the top. What is the best way to fix this?

    Thanks
    Chuck

    When all else fails increase hammer size!
    "You can know what other people know. You can do what other people can do."-Dave Gingery

  2. #2
    I have never done this,but a friend of mine has.He bought the backing material,fabric.Then took it apart and carefully glued the slats onto the backing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
    Posts
    160
    Charles,

    Try a Google search on "Tambour" to find sites and ideas. Here are a couple I found.

    http://www.woodweb.com/cgi-bin/forum...pl?read=390173

    http://www.tapeease.com/tambour.htm

    Hope this is of some help.
    Bryan in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada


    Look alive! Here comes a buzzard! -- Pogo, by Walt Kelly

    A child of five could understand this. Fetch me a child of five. -- Groucho Marx.


  4. #4

    Arrow

    Charlie,

    I built a roll top desk years ago so will try to step you through the process, but no guarantees.

    1. Remove the back of the roll top (there should be a groove that is verticle and one that is horizontal
    2. Shut the roll top
    3. Have one person lift the roll top and the other guide the roll top out the horizontal track
    4. Remove the cloth backing (I would keep the slats in order since it is an older piece)
    5. Get new material larger than the roll. I beleive that I used courderoy but I have seen burlap used as well.
    6. Place glue on slats (be generous)
    7. Place fabric on a flat surface and start placing the slats, in order, on the fabric (you might want to place some wax paper on the table first so it doesn't stick to anything)
    8. Place evenly distributed weight on the slats (some 3/4 ply with a bunch of scrap wood should work)
    9. Once the glue has curred, snap the joints between the slats.
    10. Cut the excess fabric off.
    11. lube up the side and slider in

    Hope this helps. All words are spelled right in the eyes of an engineer.

  5. #5

    Did this once

    My wife had a roll top desk that was hers from when she was a kid. It had been painted several times, so we refinished it. The roll topp was just a bunch of loos slats. I careflly stripped off the old backing material. Then I purchased some heavy muslin (light canvas would also work). I applied a generous amount of glue to the back of each strip and stuck it down on the cloth which was on a large flat surface with waxed paper over it. The cloth was 1/2" per side shorter than the strips. I put weights on the strips to hold them flat while the glue dried. I could put on 3-4 strips at a time, making sure they were tightly butted edge to edge. When the glue up was complete, I varnished the entire thing on the front side only. I did not varnish the cloth. The desk is still in use and the roll top has held up for over 30 years.
    Lee Schierer - McKean, PA

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Denver, CO U.S.A.
    Posts
    35
    I recently restored a tambour door on a 100 year old desk. After removing the slats I found them pretty well coated with hide glue. I found that a card scraper removed the glue easily. (I got the one from Lee Valley, using the holder)

    I used canvas & rubber cement. It seems to have worked well but it's been less than a year. I might use yellow glue if I did it again, the rubber cement was kind of a pain.

    Good luck,

    George

  7. #7
    I've done a number of them using sail clothe and Titebond. Take the tambour out and make a jig on a flat surface to hold it while working on it. Remove the old backing, scrape all the old glue off you can. If it's hide glue, water should soften it after a short time. Clean it up then apply the glue and cloth. Keep it off the edges where it goes into the track. Clamp it under a board to keep it flat for a couple of hours. Remove it from the jig and insure that no glue is between individual strips (clean up if you find any). Put it back in the jig and clamp over night. It's worked for me.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Harrisville, PA
    Posts
    1,673

    Thank you

    Thanks for all of your replies. It looks like another project to add to the list.
    Chuck

    When all else fails increase hammer size!
    "You can know what other people know. You can do what other people can do."-Dave Gingery

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