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Repairing a Rolltop Desk

Category Furniture
A rolltop desk may reflect days gone by and serve as an accent piece, but when it gets stuck it is only frustrating. This is a guide about repairing a rolltop desk.
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By 0 found this helpful
March 30, 2016

My rolltop's tambour would not open all the way. It was like it was jammed from being able to be pushed up all the way to the top, in the totally open position. This meant the drawers were locked. Fortunately, not all of the drawers were shut.

These instructions will enable you to get your tambour all the way open and unlock the remaining drawers, provided you have the same scenario as I did.

  1. Remove any drawer, one on both sides. For my drawers there is a small piece of plastic that is shoved through a slot. It is bent over to make it too large to fit through the slot. One is located on each side of the track.

    To release it I had to simply unbend the piece of plastic and lift the drawer vertically thus allowing the plastic piece to slide back through the slot.

  2. Once the drawer is removed, take a flashlight and look toward the back of the opening where the drawer had once been housed. Now you can see the locking mechanism behind the drawers.

    In my desk, it comprises a vertical wooden shaft with cut-outs to engage the locking hook on the back of each drawer.

  3. Take a long stick or something and put it in the cut-out and lift.

  4. As it is lifted, open the other drawers.

  5. Repeat this step on the top drawer on each side to unlock all the drawers.

In my particular case, there is a plastic tube that fits in a hole on the underneath side of the desktop. This plastic tube is the mechanism that moves up and down as the tambour is lifted and lowered. This plastic tube is open at one end and has a flat rectangle at the other end. The open end fits in a hole and a flat rectangle is the part that actually moves the pivoting wooden lift.

The rectangle piece got caught on some wood and would not move. This prevented the tambour from completely opening. I simply took a long tool, reached in through opening left by the removed drawer and unjammed it. The tambour was freed up to work properly!

In order to keep the drawers from locking again if the tambour gets jammed, I removed all the drawers and unscrewed the metal hooks. These hooks are actually what is inserted into the wooden shafts cutouts to lock them in place. They are located the back of the drawer and easy to remove with a screwdriver.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 20, 2009

How do you make a stiff roll top desk roll up and down easier?

By karen17 from marion il.

Answers

April 21, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

Just what I was going to say; soap or wax or WD40.

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April 21, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

I inherited my Father's antique rolltop desk and it needed some dust removed from the rolltop to make it open smoothly. I vacuumned the rolltop while closed along every movable part and moved the rolltop up and vacuumed the channels it moved in as much as possible. I also used furniture lemon oil on the channels and rolltop too. It worked for me.

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I have also used candle wax on sticky drawers before. Maybe that would help too. Good luck.

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By 0 found this helpful
June 17, 2017

How do I re-insert the rolltop insert back into my desk after I refinished it? I can't get it started in the grooves and it will not fit back again. I need to slide the rolltop back where it is suppose to go.

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June 17, 20170 found this helpful

Did you use a tambour cloth? Complete instructions are here:http://homeguid  desk-102383.html

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