Introduction: Roll Top Desk
We got the idea to build a roll top desk because My wife Jess and I share a shop and it was a way to keep sawdust off her crafts! We intentionally did very little research because we wanted to figure is out on our own! If you would rather watch our video on this, it is on our YouTube channel, MAKE SHAPE CREATE, link to the video will be at the end!
Step 1: Part 1 the Desk
We started with a standard 4x8 sheet of 1/2 inch plywood,
we cut a 4x2 foot section for the top and three 30x24 inch pieces and two 12x24 inch pieces for the bottom.
Using wood glue and pocket holes we combined two of the 39x24 inch pieces and one of the 12x24 inch pieces to make the one side. We used corner clamps t space the 12x24 piece down about an inch.
Once they we dry we attached them to the top on the right side again using wood glue and pocket holes. Finally we attached the last 30x24 inch piece to the left side in the same way and then cut and connected to left and right side using a stretcher cut to length. We face screwed it in and patched it with wood putty! We should have pocket holes it but didn’t think of that till after we were done!
Finally after all that was dry we used two 1x12x48 inch planks and one 1x4x48 inch plank to make the desktop!
We applied glue to all the edges and clamped them together from all sides using spring clamps at the edges and f clamps to force them tightly together!
We had to use our clamp guide to clamp it from the other side to make sure it didn’t flex!
Once dry we scrapped the squeeze out and sanded it up to a 220 grit. Then applied a lot of glue to the plywood base, aligned and clamped down the top and screwed it on from underneath using 1 inch screws!
We used a piece of 1x3x30 to reenforce the left side by gluing and clamping it to the front edge. We also put 4 blocks inside the right hand part for the shelf to sit on!
Step 2: Part 2 the Hutch.
We started by cutting three more 30x24 inch pieces of
plywood (when we were cutting the bottom pieces we had one extra) and one 30x48 inch piece. On one of the piece we measured about 12 inches up the 30 inch side and the over to the center. We drilled a screw part way in and used a piece of twine and a pencil to make 2 half circles about and inch in and a half inch apart and a quarter circle from the side to the top of the circle then using a carpenter ruler continued the line straight out 90° from the back edge to the top of the quarter circle. We also used the ruler to continue the half circles to the bottom.
At the bandsaw we cut along all these lines to get 2 pieces we needed the outside pieces we used as a template to trace on the remaining three 30x24 inch pieces and on one we also traced the inside curve. Next using the second piece we centered in in the last one we traced to trace the inside curve, then cut all these on the bandsaw.
We matched up the sides that fit together best and used glued these together and clamped them in place.
Once they were dry we clamped them together and used a palm sander to knock down the edges to get them to match (if you have a belt sand this would probably work better).
Once all the edge matched we measured the back and cut the 30x48 inch piece to match.
Then glued the back panel on and held it in place using f and corner clamps. We also measured the inside width and cut a piece of scrap wood to act as a spacer whole the wood dried.
While that dried we glued a 1x12x48 inch and a 1x6x48 inch piece of planking together the same way we did the desktop!
Step 3: Part 3 the Tambour Door
This is the part we we both looking forward to and
terrified of. Like I said we intentionally didn’t do a lot of research but the small amount I did said you connect the tambours together using canvas, so that’s what we did!
We started with five 1x6x96 inch planks, we cut them all in half to 48inches then clamped five together side by side and made multiple passes with the circular saw to create a 3/4 inch rabbit on both the ends. We then knocked out any left over pieces with a mallet and chisel. Then repeated this for the other 5 pieces. (If you have a router you can use it, we didn’t).
We then butted 2 boards back to back so the longer parts were together, wrapped them flush with tape and cut them all in half.
Next we took them to the bandsaw to round off the rabbits.
We applied edge banding to all the visible plywood edges on the desk and hutch then applied polyurethane to everything and let this sit over night.
We squared all the tambours up and used pins, 5 minute epoxy and staples to attach the canvas to them!
While the epoxy set we applied o paste wax to all sides of the rabbits as well as to the groves in the hutch!
Step 4: Part 4 Combining Them All
Once the epoxy was set we fed the tambours into the hutch.
We next used a doweling jig to drill holes in the bottom and top of the hutch along with matching holes in the desktop and at the bottom of the top shelf! We used wood glue and dowels to connect them all and hammered them in with a rubber mallet!
We put 2 stop blocks at the back of the grove because it seems to get stuck when we let to go all the way to the desktop!
We added 2 handles to the bottom front tambour then we added the shelf to the desk and we we finished!!
Participated in the
1 year ago
This looks like the project I need to do with an existing desk at my home. Thanks. You provide easy to follow instructions and great pictures.
2 years ago
That looks awesome. I'd always wondered how roll-top desks worked. Thank you for sharing your work :-)
Reply 2 years ago
I’m not positive this is how a “professional” would have done it, but it works great!! Thank you!
2 years ago
Admirably well done.
Reply 2 years ago