Building a Roll-Top Desk
Interlocking slats form an all-wood tambour
Synopsis: The roots of the roll-top desk go back more than 200 years. Over time, desk variations merged to include tambour doors and pigeonhole compartments. Kenneth Baumert, a woodworker and mechanical engineer, came up with a design that eliminates the cloth backing on tambour doors by using an elongated ball-and-socket joint. He discusses the basic construction of the desk (the frames, panels, drawers and locks), and then details how he shapes the tambours. He closes with information on making the pigeonholes. This richly illustrated article shows every aspect of the construction process.
I can recall my first encounter with a roll-top desk. My parents and I were visiting my uncle’s home and were impressed with all the compartments and little drawers in his desk. Many years have passed since that visit, and I now realize that the greatest asset of a roll-top desk is not all the storage areas provided by…