Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tambour Unit for a Roll Top Desk

We have been getting quite a few roll top desks in just lately.  At the moment we have 5 of them in our shop!  Of course what makes a roll top desk so distinctive is the movable top which is technically called a 'tambour unit'.    Usually these are made up of  several slats of wood, rounded on the front and flat on the back, the flat part of each slat is adhesed to a cloth, making the unit flexible.  They look something like the roll top you can see here...

This Tambour is a quite different though, so it required a creative solution for it's repair.  The front of each slat is made of a flat piece of veneer.  The veneer was then adhesed to the cloth, and a curved back piece was adhesed to the other side, basically sandwiching the cloth.  The veneer on the front was done so well, that when the desk top is closed, each individual piece of veneer perfectly matched the ones next to it and created an entire pattern.  Unfortunately, as so often happens, the cloth wore out.  If we had tried to replace the entire cloth, we would have lost the beautiful veneer work.  So after much contemplation, we came up with the solution you see in the pictures.   We laid the Unit on it's face and adhesed gauze strips along each slat, making sure each piece of gauze made contact with 3 surfaces, the front Tambour piece, and the back slats on each side.   Each individual gauze strip had to be pressed in place until the adhesive was set.  I am looking forward to turning this unique project over and seeing the lovely veneer face again, although this time it will be functioning!

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