Bending Timber

Many years ago (I can say that now, being 5 or so years ago!), I wrote a post about bending timber using kerfing. To this day, it remains one of the most clicked-on posts of all time. It would certainly justify a revisit, and expansion to the original post.

Out in the shed today, I was using the Amana Tool Tambour Bit set to make a large tambour door for the toy kitchen (and the full article about the construction will be in the next edition of ManSpace magazine). When I had finished it, and assembled all the slats, it was surprising to see just how flexible the interlocking slats were. It made me think of kerfing, with a different surface texture (obviously). (The bit set is available from Toolstoday.com)

If flexibility was not the desired end result, but the forms that could be created during assembly, this could produce some really organic structures – lounge chairs, curves around structures etc. Although (like kerfing) there are some inherent weak areas, (which don’t compromise the structure if used for a roller door but would if used for a deck chair), these could be easily overcome with good glue, and supporting structure, allowing the form of the tambour, with the strength required for the alternate purpose.

Tambour Door

Tambour Door

So there is the teaser. The full door (and in this case, it will be a door for the toy kitchen), is 450mm wide and around 750mm in length, and is made up of 52 individual slats that require no joiners, no backing tape or canvas: just pure, interlocking timber slats. Total distance of timber passing through the various machines in getting it sized correctly, then shaped by the router table was around 1/2 a km. Not relevant, just interesting!

3 Responses

  1. I do like the look of the tambour door but the time to make all the slats and the cost of the router bit set is a bit off putting. Readers may like to also consider a Laminex mdf product called Craftform. It is 9 mm sheet with precision v grooves that can be bent to a minimum radius of 200 mm. It needs to be finished with a veneer if you want a natural look. Cost is about $200 for a sheet size of 2400 x 1200 but maybe larger joinery shops could supply an offcut. See http://tradeessentials.thelaminexgroup.com.au/uploads/tech-info/Craftform_Tradesman's_Essential_Guide.pdf for full details, including template design.

  2. I have seen similar tambours used in 10′ wide rollup overhead doors 8′ high. They were all intact, in a ca. 1890 church. No backing like in a desk, just interlocking tambours. Amazingly durable. I would be happy to post pictures if you like.

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