Rolltop Desk - The Build

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Blog series by Randy Sharp updated 03-31-2015 02:25 AM 5 parts 10006 reads 1 comment total

Part 1: Intro and materials

03-02-2015 03:55 AM by Randy Sharp | 1 comment »

Visit my website at or on Facebook! Introduction – February 2015The rolltop desk has always had a certain appeal because of the large drawers in the base, multiple cubby holes in the top section and a tambour door. Norm Abram’s version is shown here. I’m using his plans for my build. But with the progression of computers, the rolltop desk is becoming more associated with days past, when managers and business owners relied on a desk like this to keep their paperwork...

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Part 2: Phase 1 - The Base parts

03-03-2015 01:01 AM by Randy Sharp | 0 comments »

Visit my website at or on Facebook! It took 10 hours to resaw the 1 1/4″ thick slabs into three thinner panels and then plane them to the finished 1/4″ thickness. In total, I cut 21 panels that will become inserts for the side and back assemblies. The quarter-sawn panels have some beautiful medullary ray patterns! Panels for the side assembliesI also planed the stiles and rails down to 3/4″ thick, then the cut them to width and length. The next step was to ...

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Part 3: Finishing the base cabinets

03-04-2015 02:59 AM by Randy Sharp | 0 comments »

Making the panelsToday, I put all the parts together to form the sides and back assemblies. I started with the two back panels. These will attach to the side panels and make up the two base cabinets for the desk. I’m limited on the number of clamps I have, so I could only glue up two panels at a time. The saying among woodworkers is true, you can never have too many clamps. While waiting for the glue to dry on the first two panels, I turned my attention to making eight drawer div...

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Part 4: Drawers

03-08-2015 11:40 PM by Randy Sharp | 0 comments »

It’s time to make parts for the six drawers. The original plans called for birch plywood for the sides and backs This would be a snap with 1/2” plywood, but I decided to use solid wood, knowing that it would require at least on full day just to prepare the parts. After re-sawing some boards, gluing up others and a lot of planing, the parts are ready. The Porter Cable 4210 from Lowe’s is the perfect tool for making dovetails. The great thing about this jig is tha...

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Part 5: Starting the top

03-31-2015 02:25 AM by Randy Sharp | 0 comments »

With the bases and the drawers finished, I wanted to turn my attention to the roll top section itself. The cubby hole section will require the most time and effort, but this is going to be the most difficult part of the build. The desk top consists of the curved sides that the actual tambour will ride in, a back panel and a top. The tambour will be a project unto itself. I started with the back panel and top. The parts required lots of grooves to accept the thin panels. The top was stra...

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