Small Steps Toward a Completed Component.

Roll Top Tambor Strips

Roll Top Tambor Strips

As I work on a piece of furniture based on the Dentist’s Desk shown in my last post, I am realizing how many steps it takes to make one component.

My cabinet will have a roll top with oak tambor, like the desk has. Making the roll top involves selecting the lumber, planing it to the correct thickness (the width of each strip,) cutting it to length, edge jointing the board, then making each tambor strip. With an 8″ wide board planed and edge jointed, I used my router table to make two passes along the jointed edge, basically rounding over each corner. Then, I cut that edge on the table saw 5/16″ wide (which will be the thickness of each strip.) Next, it was back to the jointer to get a smooth edge again, and repeat the steps over and over until I had plenty of strips. I numbered each one as I finished so I could keep them in order to make the pattern match. I used quarter sawn oak, but next time I make tambor I will use plane sawn oak since each strip is cut 90 degrees to the face of the board, my strips look plane sawn now.

The oak strips will be glued to a piece of artist’s canvas to form the completed roll top.

Making the pieces to hold the roll top require even more steps. I will use a frame and panel system for the sides, with a curved corner where the roll top comes around and down. The frame will consist of three vertical pieces and two horizontal pieces at the top and bottom. These are joined together tongue and groove. The panels will be 1/4″ thick oak, which was resawn from 5/4 stock. The corner of the frame was roughed out on the bandsaw, then trimmed to its final shape with a router using a pattern bit.

Slot cutter bit cuts the groove in curved frame

Slot cutter bit cuts the groove in curved frame

The resulting inside curve of the frame will need to accept a 1/4″ panel, so I cut a groove along the inside edge using a slot cutter bit.

The groove into which the roll top will travel was cut with a 3/8″ router bit with a bushing riding against a pattern made of mdf.

Pattern and bit for cutting tambor slot

Pattern and bit for cutting tambor slot

Once everything is assembled on the sides of the roll top, each will consist of 7 separate pieces, all of them different. The Dentist’s Desk had a solid piece on each end of the tambor roll top, but my frame and panel design will be carried through to the sides of the overall piece as well, giving a bit more symmetry. The side panel is just dry fit at this time, waiting to be sanded and glued.

The rough frame and panel cabinet side.

The rough frame and panel cabinet side.

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