Making Tambour Doors

Tambour door construction basics. December 28, 2005

I am making an entertainment center for a customer who wants tambour doors in front of the TV. I want to make these myself but have never attempted it before. The doors will be 24" w x 32" h. Any suggestions on building these will be greatly appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
I make most of my own tambours because I want what I want, when I want it. I need it to match the wood I am using and besides it isn't all that hard. I rip slats the thickness I need. For most I use 8mm thick but for wider ones it would be thicker. Throw out the ones that are bowed, then thickness sand and turn face down on a piece of PB. I staple a ¼” thick scrap on one end and compress the tambours together then staple another scrap at the other end. I use canvas from the local fabric store but I have gotten better material from a boat awning place. I spray contact cement on both parts, let dry and then run thru the pinch roller a couple of times. I then cut it to finished size and slide it into the routed grove. You can debate this method until the cows come home but it works for me.

From contributor B:
Contact cement is a valid adhesive in the correct application. One fact is that it works well when there is a large surface area for the bond. Since contact cement is like depending on chewing gum for adhesion, I prefer to use PVA or aliphatic resin on a tambour slat since the surface area is limited. I don’t doubt that it works to use contact cement. I would feel more confident with better adhesives.

From contributor C:
I use the spray contact adhesive too. The Star Stuk HM adhesive in the refillable cylinder has always given me a very aggressive bond. I have tested the bonding and found that it takes a great deal of force to break the bond.

From contributor D:
I would use yellow glue for tambours.

From contributor E:
I don't think contact is any type of long term bond, especially in this case. White or yellow glue is probably the best, however you have to make sure there is no overflow between the slats, as when it dries it cracks right though the canvas.

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Comment from contributor F:
I read the above before making my own tambour door and I used the following method which was very successful.

1. Make the slats.
2. Cut the fabric about 6" larger (L+W) than you need.
3. Lay wax paper over the flat area you are making the tambour door on - taping the edges down helps.
4. Staple the fabric to the flat area while stretching the fabric to smooth it down.
5. Squeegee carpenters glue over the fabric. I used a drywall knife because it was wide. Use your judgment to keep the glue thickness to a minimum.
6. Place the slats on the fabric and press into place.
7. Walk away for about 40 minutes.
8. Carefully remove the staples and flex the tambour just enough to make sure there is no slat-to-slat glue bond.
9. Let dry for a few hours then cut to the final size.