Through this project I will show you how to make a solid wood breadbin with tambour, documenting step by step along the way to the best of my ability. As well as this I will have full technical drawings of all the parts and a full set of CAD files.
If you are wondering what a Tambour is the best way to describe it is a sliding door made of thin strips of wood glued next to each other onto a canvas backing.
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Note: The breadbin I'm making in this project is slightly different version from the finished piece shown, customise and make changes wherever you wish :)
Step 1: Parts + Materials
It's a very small parts list for this project and cost me just under £20 to make.
Solid Cherry - Base and Top - L 520mm x W 230mm x T 16mm - x2
Solid Cherry - Upright small - L 222mm x W 35mm x T 20mm - x2
Solid Cherry - Upright large - L 222mm x W 45mm x T 20mm - x2
Solid Cherry - Tambour pieces - L 222mm x W 15mm x T 10mm - x70
Veneered MDF Back Panel - L 222mm x W 314mm x T 6mm x 1
Fabric - A3 size piece - x2
Tru oil - 3oz is more than enough
Lint free rags x 3
Tack cloth x1
Step 2: Tools
- Hand Chisels 10mm and 20mm
- Hand saw (rip + crosscut ideally)
- Hand Router 1/4 or 1/2
- Router table (optional)
- Pin router (optional)
- Spindle moulder (optional)
- Planer thicknesser (optional)
Step 3: Drawings + CAD Files
Base + Top:
Upright 45x 20:
Upright 35x 20:
Step 4: Timber Preperation (optional)
If you do not have a planer and thicknesser you can do this step by hand or have you local timber yard prepare the timber for you. The timber yard should have no problems preparing the timber for you and it generally does not cost a great deal and your best option if you are unsure what to do. If however you plan on prepping the timber from rough stock you would be wise to use a scrub plane with a well sharpened blade and a either a no 5 jack plane and perhaps even a no 7 jointer as well. You may also benefit from a set of winding sticks in the process. Hand prepping timber is a fairly laborious process and requires some skill to do it well; there are many videos on you tube by men like Paul Sellers that can guide you through the process if needs be.
For this project I started with a rough sawn Cherry timber board approximately 25mm in thickness and around 1.5m in length.
I first cut the painted ends from the rough sawn boards on the crosscut saw. There are few reasons why it is good practice to remove the painted ends from the timber. One reason is that the paint at the ends of the boards dulls the planer cutters, causing unnecessary wear. Another and perhaps more important reason is to drastically reduce the risk of shakes leading to structural failures further down the line.
After dimensioning the board I planed a face side and face edge on the board, ripped, re-edged and thicknessed. I have much more detailed instructions under my bench build which you can find in my other projects here on instructables.
Note: Cherry is prone to tearout so if you can machine it down to 16.5mm and sand or use a high angle hand plane (50 degrees) to take it down to 16mm.
Step 5: Mortices
To make the mortices for the uprights to sit in you will have to use a router: hand, pin or cnc. As well as this you will need a chisel for squaring off the round corners left by the router.
At this stage you will need to decide if you are doing mortices for tenons with two shoulders or four. A shoulder is the part of the tenon that stops at the face of the piece it is going into. Opting for only two shoulders means the joint will be quicker and easier to make, the downside is if you are slightly sloppy on the edges without a shoulder, the joint may look a bit shabby. Doing the shoulders all round (four shoulders) is slightly more time consuming and difficult but ultimately neater.
Using the included technical drawings mark out the location of the mortices using a combination square or engineers square an ruler. Whichever you prefer. After you are happy with the location you can mark out the locations again using a marking gauge or mortice gauge, if you do not own either of these you can do this step with a square, ruler and sharp scalpel/marking knife.
The reason for marking out the second time is to give a groove for your chisel to sit into. It makes the whole process a lot neater and is a good practice to get into.
- Hand router method:
Using your hand router use a small router bit around 6mm and set your fence to the edge of the board so the edge of the cutter is about 1.5mm inside of the mortice. Once the you are happy the router is aligned nicely plunge the router in no more than 3mm and slowly push the router forwards towards the end of the mortice.
Note: Turn the router off and unplug it before moving or readjusting the machine.
Continue like this until you have completed all your mortices on both boards to the specified depth.
- Pin router:
The pin router method requires a separate jig to be made but is the easiest method when setup. Using the pin router you can have a pin (same size as the cutter) running in a grove in the jig the top or bottom piece is attached to. As you move the piece in the jig around the slots your router bit follows from the top and cuts the mortices.
Step 6: Jig / Templates and Groove for Tambour
If you are doing the mortices with a pin router you can use this same method to make a jig for the mortices and groove combined.
Using the provided technical drawings/templates either cut out and make templates from the paper print out or take the AI files to you local laser cutting services and have them cut you the templates for you.
- Hand router
Once you have the templates made you will need to attach them to the top or bottom piece you are cutting using clamps. I recommend a good set of f clamps for this. Then using a 6mm bearing guided cutter route along the edge of the template referencing the inside of the groove. As mentioned in the previous step when routing do not plunge more than 3mm at a time.
Step 7: Back Panel
Using 6mm veneered mdf cut a panel to 320mm x 220mm. You can do this with a hand saw, track saw, table saw, bandsaw, jigsaw or even a router.
I routed the groove into the base and top using an edge guide on a hand router plunging under 3mm at a time. You could also use a plough plane or a chisel if you are feeling brave.
The grooves for the back panel in the two large uprights were made on the spindle moulder but you can do this with a variety of tools, a router table is a good choice or a plough plane.
Step 8: Rounded Edges (optional)
To round the edges I used a scrap of poplar to make a template to match the radius of the groove. As I already had the radius drawn in my cad model and in my template it was just a case of transferring the lines to my scrap piece (the same process as the previous templates). The To make it I first cut out a rough profile on a bandsaw and then sanded back to my line. I then marked the top and bottom piece with the template and cut them on the bandsaw. The reason I made the template was so I could use my flush trim cutter to route against the template and make the corners nice and symmetrical.
You can round all the edges or none of then it's completely up to you it has no purpose other thank looks.
Note: When clamping the template use two clamps to hold it down so it doesn't pivot.
Step 9: Chamfer (optional)
I added a chamfer to my top and bottom for aesthetic reasons, I did this using a chamfer cutter on a hand router.
Note: Because a chamfer cutting bit is a large bit it is important to slow the speed of the router down so as to increase control and quality of the cut. The simple way to remember why you need to slow the router down on big cutter is to think how it will affect the cutter. A small bit at speed six might be turning at 16,000 rpm but on the same speed a larger bit will be turning much faster on the outside due to the bigger radius.
Step 10: Finishing the Inside
To finish the inside I first sanded the inside faces of the top and bottom up to 320 grit using a cork block, sanding with the grain. I then sanded all sides of the uprights and wiped all the surfaces with a tack cloth. A tack cloth picks up all the dust left in the pores of the wood and on the surface and helps you get a better finish.
I then taped off the all gluing surfaces (mortices and tenons) with masking tape.
To finish the pieces I used Tru-Oil which is a great finish commonly used for gunstocks and musical instruments. It's super easy to apply and produces a nice sheen.
For the first coat I used a lint free rag and put the finish on using a swirling motion. After the finish was applied to all pieces I waited five minutes and buffed of the excess with a clean rag. At this step I found I gained the best results by putting in a lot of pressure while buffing out the surface.
The big reason behind finishing the inside first is it allows you to get a really nice finish that would not be possible when the unit is glued up.
Step 11: Tambour Pieces
To make the tambour pieces you need to make 70 pieces of L 222mm x W 15mm x T 10mm. The easiest way I found to do this was to machine 16 meters of 15mm x 10mm cherry. I made the 16m up using 8 two meter pieces.
I cut four two meter lengths into 222mm sections using the table saw but this can easily be done on a mitre/chop saw or even one at a time with a handsaw.
If you want to do this with a handsaw I would recommend using a GYOKUCHO 306 Dozuki crosscut saw but really any crosscut saw will do.
Step 12: Rebates for Tambour
To make the rebates for the tambour you can use a variety of machine, shown above is a jig made for the pin router. I would not expect everyone to have a pin router so I will give instructions on other machines that can be used in place.
Note: you can also add a round-over two the edges of the pieces if you wish with either a router cutter or a some low grit sandpaper or if you're feeling fancy a spokeshave
- Table saw
Using a table saw you can use a sliding fence or a crosscut sled to make the rebate, this method is quick and easy and very safe. There are guides all over the internet to make a crosscut sled and they are very simple to use, as well as this the process is still incredibly fast on a table saw as you can cut multiple pieces at a time.
- Pin router
To use a pin router you first need to make a jig. The jig is required due to the immense torque produced by pin routers - also known as overhead routers - the jig needs to be well made and sturdy. The Jig uses four pieces of 18mm bb birch plywood, two bolts, wingnuts and washers. As well as this it has cam locks and sandpaper underneath the pieces used to help keep them still.
The cutter is 12mm and you need to take passes no more than a few mm at a time. The jig itself runs along a square fence held in place with clamps.
- Hand cut
One of the easiest ways - also the longest way - to do this is to cut the pieces by hand. I would do this with a rip saw and dovetail saw. Clamping multiple pieces in a vice.
- Router table
Using the same method as the pin router you can also do this step on a router table. Just clamp a straight board at both end run the pieces through a 12mm router cutter
Step 13: Finishing the Rest
After this stage all surfaces (and the tambour pieces) need to be sanded up through the grits to 320. Then follow the same process as with the inside building up a nice lustre using tung oil.
Step 14: Gluing on the Backing
- First take 35 of your tambour pieces and line them up using a square with the face side facing down.
- Then tape the pieces together using masking tape
- After flip the pieces over and apply wood glue with a roller
- Clean the roller
- Then place the material over the surface and press with a clean roller
- Using an iron on medium heat go over the surface making sure to keep moving
- Wait for a few hours and trim with a scalpel
Step 15: Assemble and Admire
Insert your tambour checking to see it runs smoothly and freely. If you have issues getting the tambour in (they can be tricky) you may need to widen the entrance with a chisel. If it sticks as it goes around the track you may need to sand the edges of the rebate of tambour.
Once any last touches on the tambour are done you give the cabinet a quick wax (optional) and spray some silcone spray into the channel to help the tambour glide and begin to use it.
If you do make this cabinet I would be really excited to see it and feel free to send me a message.
Also any issues you may have I will do my best to help.