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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
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    Westleigh, Sydney
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    Default Tambour front book case

    Something I've wanted to make for a long time is a tambour front bookcase for myself, so I decided it was now or never.
    The carcass is made from Qld Silver Ash and Southern Silky Oak. So far, it's a basic construction, with half-blind dovetail corners and a floating back panel.
    Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 5.29.56 pm.jpg

    You may be interested in how I did the coving for the back panel to fit the slots in the carcass walls. For a small box I'd normally do this on a router table, but for a big piece like this I use the table saw.

    The first step is to clamp a solid straight edge to the saw table in front of the blade, with the edge over the centre of the blade. I used a large piece of benchtop laminate. with the saw running, slowly raise the blade, testing the depth of cut on some scrap until the edge is the desired thickness. The maximum depth of cut that can be made in one go is less than the depth of the TC teeth, but this should be more than adequate for this sort of job. I needed 3mm depth of cut.
    Coving using tablesaw 1.jpg Coving using tablesaw 2.jpg

    Holding the work against the straight edge, slowly push it across the saw blade, then repeat in the opposite direction. Be careful! Remember that the blade protrudes above the top, and keep your fingers away from it as you push the work past it.

    The resulting cove will show saw marks that can be cleaned up using a kidney-shaped card scraper.
    Coving 1.jpg

    The dry fit of the cabinet shows the removable section at the bottom front of the carcass, to allow the tambour to be fitted, and if necessary, removed for repair in a hundred years time.
    Dry fit - back.jpg
    Dry fit - front 2.jpg
    Dry fit - front 1.jpg
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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Australia
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    Default

    Nice work. I'm looking forward to seeing your tambour work. I'm lining up a donation piece for a fundraiser ball I go to most years and was looking at doing a tambour front liquor cabinet possibly. The tambour work from Poritz and Studio always amazed me.
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  4. #3
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    Jun 1999
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    I've seen that one and I reckon it's pretty amazing.
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  5. #4
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    Jun 1999
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    Westleigh, Sydney
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    Well, it's been a while, but I'm finally back at work on this one. I've routed the tracks for the tambour, and am gluing up the false back and top that will hide the tambour when it is open. Next step will be to route the housings for them.

    20190617-IMG_2754.jpg
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  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
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    Westleigh, Sydney
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    Default

    With the tambour tracks and the housings for the false back & top routed ot, the next step was to cut strips of velvet to line the tambour track, to help it run quietly.

    Cutting velvet.jpg

    Inserting velvet 1.jpg

    Inserting velvet 2.jpg

    Then it was time for the full dry assembly, just to make sure everything fitted.

    Dry assembly 2.jpg

    Dry assembly 3.jpg

    Dry assembly 5.jpg

    Next step is to glue the carcass up - a job for another day.
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  7. #6
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    Jun 1999
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    I glued up the carcass yesterday. As they say, you can never have too many clamps. I used Techniglue, tinted with ochre and white to match the silver ash.
    The clamp across the back at an angle is to pull it into square. In the front is a diagonal stick.

    Glue up 1.jpg

    Glue up 2.jpg

    Glue up 3.jpg
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  8. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Sydney
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    49
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    8,767

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    Looking amazing already.

    And yes you can actually have too many clamps. I do.
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  9. #8
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    Jun 1999
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    Now that the carcass is finished I've started on the tambour slats. I'm making them from recycled Western Red Cedar because it's very stable and I have plenty of it. They will have marquetry on the front.
    I've calculated that I need 42 of them, 20mm x 10 mm, so I've made 48 of them as some may have flaws such as nail holes. Their manufacture turned into a pretty quick production line. I started with six boards slightly longer than necessary, all thicknessed to the slat width, 20 mm and with a squared edge. The process became - mark thickness of slat on 6 boards - cut 6 slats on bandsaw - square edges of 6 boards - rinse & repeat. Then feed 48 slats through drum sander until they are the correct thickness. The next step will be to cut the slats to length.

    Tambour slats.jpg
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  10. #9
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    Jun 1999
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    After cutting the slats to length I layed the slats out with a side and end frame, and taped them together on the front and cut rebates on each end on the table saw.

    Tambour back.jpg

    Tambour front detail.jpg

    Then I flipped them over, taped them on the back and removed the front tape. They were then test fitted, and it was nice to see that they slid nicely.
    Tambour in place - down.jpg

    Tambour in place - up.jpg

    The tambour will have a marquetry veneer applied to the front. I plan to do this by attaching it to about 5 slats at a time, rather than try to do the whole set at once. The slats will then be separated using a razor saw. My next step was to draw the cartoon for the marquetry. Originally, I'd planned to do a picture of various Australian animals & birds, but I'm not a good enough artist, and was having trouble getting the perspective and composition right. Therefore, I decided to base the design on a couple of Escher prints.

    Cartoon for marquetry.jpg

    I won't be able to do any work on it next week, so will psych myself up for lots of marquetry in the coming weeks.
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  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
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    Default

    After a couple of weeks doing other stuff, this week I started cutting the marquetry. I'm doing this on the scroll saw using the double bevel method. In this method, two layers of veneer are cut together with the saw table on an angle, so that the lower piece fits into the kerf of the upper piece. The pattern is traced from the cartoon on to the top piece of veneer.
    As each piece is cut, it is joined to the mating piece using marquetry tape, which shrinks as it dries, pulling the pieces together.

    Cutting marquetry.jpg

    Because I'm using veneers that I cut myself, and the limiting size of my scroll saw, the marquetry panels have to be cut in strips less than the width of the veneers - i.e. four tambour slats. I've now finished the first - only another 20 to go.

    First Marquetry panel reverse.jpg

    First Marquetry panel.jpg

    The masking tape on the reverse is there temporarily to stop the pieces flapping around.
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  12. #11
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    Jun 1999
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    Today I glued the first lot of marquetry to the tambour slats. I added a couple more strips of duct tape to the back of the slats to pull them together and made sure there was plenty of wax on the edges of the the slats to stop any glue sticking them together.
    I used Techniglue epoxy, tinted to approximate the cedar in the marquetry. I spread a thin coat on the slats and veneer, then, making sure the slats were accurately positioned on the veneer, I sandwiched them between two pieces of laminate and clamped them up tightly.

    Marquetry glue up 2.jpg

    After about four hours, when the glue was firm but not completely hard, I removed the clamps and trimmed off the overhanging veneer. I removed the veneer tape by wetting it, then ran the lay-up lightly through the drum sander to even it off and remove a bit of glue that had squeezed therough.

    First marquetry panel.jpg

    The veneers are 1.6mm thick, but when they are all done, I'll take them down to about 0.5mm, before separating the slats using a scalpel & razor saw.
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  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Seattle, Washington, USA
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    Alex,

    Where did you get information on how to make the tambour? Specifically, where did you get info on how wide to make the slats in order to accommodate the radius bend you wanted to use?

    Looks good so far!
    Luke

  14. #13
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    It's been a while since I've posted any progress pics due to various factors. However, I'm now back at full steam, doing the marquetry for the front. Progress so far.
    WIP 20191002.jpg

    Sorry Luke, I didn't see your question when you asked it. I came up with the width of the tambours, as that was the thickness of the WRC that I planned to cut them from. Note that the panels at present consist of four slats. They will be separated on the scroll saw later. (I've tried it and it can be done quite neatly.

    I estimated the radius of the track that would be needed and cut a test track to be sure. The track is slightly wider at the curve to accommodate the slightly 'wider sweep of the tambour.
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  15. #14
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    I've now more or less completed the marquetry on the tambour, just in the process of touching up mismatches caused by the tracing paper changing dimensions with varying humidity. The next step will be to separate the slats, sand them and put the backing on.

    IMG_2851.jpg
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  16. #15
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    Apr 2014
    Location
    Melbourne
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    Stunning work, Alex. Colour me green with envy!

    Brian

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