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10/04

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Before beginning this project you should decide if your going to make your own tambour or buy a pre-made one. I've made them in the past, they're time consuming to make. This was my first pre-made tambour, and it saved me allot of time!
This is where I purchased mine.


Assembly for the carcass of this unit is very simple yet strong. I used plate joinery and pocket hole screws for the face frame. I'm not going to go into detail on this page, If you want more info on those topics use the links above. 

This page is all about the roll top!

There's a lot to consider when planning one of these things. Clearance around the face frame, top and rear is fairly straight forward. The length of the groove, where it stops in the back was a little tricky to figure. Then there is the handle section you need to add to the tambour (roll top).

In this picture I'm measuring from the bit to the edge of the router's base plate, 2-3/4".....

.....and transferring that line to my work piece. I took these pictures after I did the work so you can see where and why.

Notice how the groove for the tambour runs out of the stock like that. This is the front of the cabinet, and the inside of the face frame will form the missing side of the groove.

I'm measuring for the top of the groove here. Actually how I really came up with the layout for the groove, was to determine the outside of the groove, then add 1/2" for the width of the groove, then measure in another 2-3/4". That point is where my jig is clamped securely. Then the router will follow that jig.

To route the groove I used a 31/64" Diameter bit for plywood, that's just under 1/2", That gives me a little over 1/16" of play for the tambour to travel in. 

You can see in this pic the tell-tale pencil line where I thought the radius would be. Not to worry, the router will find it's own way around the jig, and the larger radius makes it easier for the tambour to flow around the corner.
Now for the end of the groove, the control that stops the tambour at the proper height. I spent a lot of time trying to figure this location, but later I realized it wasn't all that critical. I got it close to what looked right then added an inch, because if my tambour didn't open far enough, I could always trim off a piece or two of the top of the tambour.
Here's a bit of the tambour waste. You can see that some of the pieces of the tambour, when closed, are hidden near the top. 
Remember I haven't glued on the handle section yet so the tambour is going to be 1-1/4" bigger than this.
Now to roll up the tambour, you can see it at the stop in the rear and there is a little poking out in the front, and the handle still isn't glued on yet. So I think I have plenty, I can always trim off a little on the rear. 
The next 3 pics show the router following the jig. 

I made three passes with the router, removing 1/8" of stock at a time. That gave me a 3/8" groove in 3/4" stock.
Shut off the router and let it come to a complete stop before removing the router. This would of been a good time for a plunge router, that's on my Christmas list!
Now for the handle piece. When you buy your tambour, there is extra cloth at one end. this is where you glue on your handle stock. I used a 3/4"diamater core box bit to clean out the finger holes in the front and back of the handle. 
Be sure when you lay out these cuts that they don't over lap, that is you can't rout out the back where you plan to rout the front, the stock isn't thick enough and you'll ruin your work piece.

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It's really pretty simple to plow out the inside finger hole. Set the fence so the center of the bit is centered on your stock. Raise the bit to around 1/8". Now with the stock against the fence, hold up the left hand and let the right side rest on the table. Line up the left line with the line on the fence that represents the center of the bit, and lower the stock into the bit. 
Don't stop there, you'll burn the wood, move the stock to the left and raise the stock when the right hand line is at the center of the bit. Remove an 1/8" or so with each pass till your happy with the depth.
It should look something like this!
Now for the outside finger pulls. This was a little trickier because the depth of cut was great than the radius of the bit. There are also two of these, one on each side. Instead of raising the bit like before to increase the cut, bring the bit to the full desired height. Use the fence to control the depth of cut from the fence. Like before, start with about 1/8", and continue till your happy with the results. Remember you have two handles on the front, rout each handle before moving the fence.
The handles look great, I did have burning on the ends of the rout, they clean up with sand paper and elbow grease, and patience!
Now your premade tambour will have extra cloth on one end, this is there so you have something to glue the handle section to. Do a dry test run before attempting any assembly here. 
To get a tight fit of the cloth to the recessed handle on the back, I cut a 3/4" dowel (same dia as the core box bit) and sized it to fit into the groove, and be flush. In the pic you can see I plan to use waxed paper to keep the dowel from becoming permanently part of the tambour. 
Here you can see the dry assembly. Thats my workbench on the bottom. Just above that you can see the 3/4" dowel. I held the handle section up so you could see it in there. When pressure is applied, the dowel will fill the groove and press the cloth tightly to the inside of the finger groove. 
Finally above that is a scrap piece of wood to protect the handle from being damaged from the clamps.
Here you can see the glue up. It's important when gluing the handle to the cloth, that you pull the cloth tightly as you apply pressure to the clamps. This will ensure that there is no gaps between the handle and the rest of the tambour.
Here is the whole mess put together, all parts are dry fitted. The tambour rolls smoothly and has a great sound as it glides in it's tracks! 

The clamps are holding this together in the pic, now to break it down, stain/finish the tambour and the insides of all the parts.

Never enough clamps...put them on your Christmas list!
When the tambour is fully opened, I noticed that you can see the back (very ugly) side of the tambour. I decided to cover this. Scrap matching plywood held off the back wall at the bottom with a filler piece. A couple of screws holds the whole mess together.

Yes thats an electrical box, this is an appliance garage and those things need to be plugged in!

A view with the tambour fully up. You can see the cover inside that hides the back of the tambour. 
A view of one of the outside handles for lifting the tambour.
And closed, sittin on my table saw. This will be mounted on the base unit with the upper cabinet (below) sitting directly on top of this.
 

Another happy customer!

 
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