Fabricating a Seamless Tambour Door

Advice on veneer layup and cutting for making a seamless (or "invisible") tambour door. December 7, 2008

I am trying to get some advice on the construction of so called invisible tambour doors for a liquor cabinet I am building. I have seen many examples of these in Danish modern consoles/ credenzas. Essentially a veneer over 3/8" +/- wide slats of MDF with a canvas backer to allow flex when the door is opened. I am thinking to glue up the panel (veneer, slats, canvas) and then slice the veneer with a straight edge and knife on each seam-tedious work, but I see no other way to avoid the loss of the kerf which would negate the look of continuous (vertical) grain. If anyone has successfully done this and has some advice to effectively achieve this look I would greatly appreciate it.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor R:
If the grain is vertical, you have a lot less to worry about. You could well get a thin kerf sawblade and the kerfs will be minimized, but there is another way.

Do you know what the relief angles in the back will be? I'd be tempted to figure out the overall size needed for both doors, veneer the part as is, then use a v-bit to cut the parts. If you own a CNC, this is pretty easy to do – it’s just like miterfolding. If you don't own a CNC, then a very flat surface and careful setup can get you the right look. You want to set your depth so that the point of the bit only just cuts through the veneer. A couple of witness marks along the veneer can allow you to reassemble in the right order should the parts get mixed up.

I can see doing this on a router table, a shaper (with a bit holding arbor) or even with a TS molding head.

From contributor T:
Try Outwater plastics/architectural. I have used their seamless tambour in walnut along with their track. A CNC buddy routed it in for me. I rubbed candle wax on the back of the canvas for a slick movement and then shaped a leader strip to glue on with a finger rout. My customer and I were happy with it.

From the original questioner:

Thanks for the tips. I looked at the Outwater version, which is the right product but I need quarter-sawn white oak.