1. Love the tambour. I have two questions. Maybe they were already answered but I did not see the answers. First, what sort of fabric does Paul recommend for the tambour? It looks like some sort of canvas. Should it be cotton? Will something synthetic do? Does it matter? Second, is Paul using ordinary wood glue to attach the fabric to the wood? Does wood glue work on fabrics? Won’t ordinary wood glue crack as the fabric bends? Does it depend on the kind of fabric? I know that there are glues specifically for fabrics sold in fabric stores and craft stores. I did a google search for gluing fabric to wood and saw references to something called “mod podge,” something called “aerosol trim cement glue,” something called “E6000’s 220011 High Viscosity Adhesive,” as well as references to various craft glues. I did not see any recommendation to just use ordinary wood glue. Again, I may have missed the answers to these questions. If so, sorry! Thanks!

    1. Hi,

      I passed your question on to Paul and he said:
      I used cotton curtain lining which is not too heavy duty but tightly woven which I felt was the better choice. I did use a white PVA glue which is the one that has flexibility in the glue itself and one that is generally used for fabrics. When the tambours are made and the fabric is glued in place, everything remains tight and that’s all you need.

      Kind Regards,

    2. I don’t have a lot of experience, and not at all long term experience. However, from what I believe I’ve understood, rabbit skin glue would be an interesting choice. Most of all, if it ever fails, you don’t need to completely remove it because old and new glue stick together well, which is not the case of white glue. Heating animal glue is a breeze in a baby bottle warmer.

  2. I’ll agree with Sanford’s question – he beat me to it.

    Tambour closures have been around for many, many years and predate modern glues and fabrics.

    I’d be interested to hear what techniques involving the interlocking of the slats along their lengths as opposed to a tight contact reinforced with glue/fabric the original Victorian makers used. After all they did not have the range of PVA glues available now.
    It would be an interesting topic for one of the blogs.

    As an alternative , I’m I’m inclining to a combination of webbing and tacks……. We need to dissect an old Doctors’ Roll-Top Desk to find out!

    1. Dear Howard,

      Dissection – as woodworking – takes study and practice, lest one is to end up with literally conducting it upon one’s own hand. Therefore, please allow me to suggest an alternative strategy, starting with what some call “The Gray’s Anatomy of Woodworking”: Bill Hylton’s “Illustrated Cabinet Making: How to Design and Construct Furniture That Works” (ISBN 978-156523-369-0); which only shows that the reviewer in question never have had to go through Gray’s Anatomy, nor any of the even more daunting ones…

      In the chapter on rolltop desk (tambour desk) Mr. Hylton informs that the tambour desk was patented in 1850 by Abner Cutler of NY. His desks remained en vogue until the 1920s, apparently with the same tambours of strips glued to duck canvas.

      Prior to Mr. Cutler’s inventions there were French Cylinder desks, known since the 18th century. The attached link shows the cylinder desk of Louis XV. Compared to that, the invention the tambour seems to me to a step in right direction, in more than one way.


  3. Just in case someone is reading the comments on this video – there is a discussion about the width of the groove in the bottom tambour rail in the comments on the introduction video to this series. The groove at the bottom needs top be a tight fit on the thickness of the tambour rail (13/32″) + two layers of backing cloth so we think Paul mis-spoke at 26:28 when he talks about swapping the cutter for a 9/16″ cutter as that would mean that the two thicknesses of cloth would need to be thicker than 5/32″ to fill the gap. We think the groove needs to 7/16″. I’m planning to wait until the cloth arrives before cutting my groove!

  4. If anything it felt a little looser than when Paul Sellers did his, I seem to recall Paul planing his bottom slat to make it less if a tight fit. Mine just slid in without much pressure. However it glued up fine and is working well. The only thing I didn’t like is the fact that you can see the edge of the canvas. However it is probably only me that notices it!

  5. I remember seeing a tamboured cabinet with a drawer below the tambour. The tambour’s track groove continued around down the sides, and the tambour attached to the back of the drawer, such that when the drawer was pulled open then the tambour simultaneously was drawn up and open.

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