Has anyone ever made a full size tambour door?


I am thinking about challenging myself to create a full , human size door version of one of these. Ideally, the whole thing including the frame out of wood as I have no experience with metal.

Dimensions, around 75cm wide by 208cm high.

Has anyone ever made one of these? Any advice? I can find some tutorials on youtube but mostly smaller cabinet things. I would like it to be this style (where the slats roll up into a circle, rather than moving across the roof like a garage door. The big unknowns I have are:

  • How to understand how the big the roller housing needs to be, and more importantly, how the slats actually roll around inside it.
  • How to connect the slats together in a way that allows them to curl around - tutorials seem to suggest simply gluing material to the back? Would that be strong enough?
  • How to make it so that it doesn’t fall down when open
  • At that size would it be too heavy to lift?

Any advice would be much appreciate, even if its just, ‘its really hard, just buy one!’

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I’ve seen the slats being basicaly glued to a fabric, that made it possible to roll out, smoothness of the channel for rolling would be better as bare wood, or god forbid an MDF, will provide too much friction, unless you’d make it smooth, possibly with some hard wearing paint? Maybe acrylic inlay of sorts… But the sides would basically had a channel routered out in a spiral shape. It’s theoretically very simple…

Oh, and the slats were basically a long sheet of wood with VERY deep grooves between the slats so it worked as a living hinge (browse the internet’s for living hinges), extremely cool designs of living hinges are possible on the laser cutter, but again, the channels have to be made smooth so the wood slides and doesn’t get stuck. I’m repeating it to emphasise how pita it can be if not addressed.

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Thanks very much Petra! Living hinge is an amazing idea… I hadn’t considered that

Waxing the grooves to receive the tambour would also assist to keep things running. Depending on how frequently the door is opened would determine how often wax would need to be reapplied/ refreshed.

I’ve used wax in grooves for other sliding joints with good success in the past.


thanks sally, any particular wax you’d recommend?

Beeswax should do the trick nicely.

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Hi Petra, do. you know (from your own or others experience) what the maximum thickness of plywood you could make a living hinge with is? I haven’t seen thicker than 6mm so wondering if thats about the limit.

I think the biggest problem you will have is when you lift the door the roller will have to have some kind of coiled spring to keep the slats tight as it rolls up.

maybe a couple of tape measures taken apart would do it. Or of course you could motorise it

I recommend making a scale model first

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