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How Do I Fix a Rolltop Desk?

by HomeRepairExpert.com
The most common repair made to rolltop desks involves the parallel slats, which are designed to twist onto their sides when the top is rolled into the up (open desk) position. The slats are held in place with a wide piece of canvas, with hide glue used as the traditional adhesive. To begin, remove one side of the rolltop desk so that the slats maybe removed in one piece. Next, lay the slat assembly upside down and flat onto a large piece of plywood (or other work surface). Remove the old canvas from the back of the slats. Liberal use of glue remover will make the process easier.

Rolltop Removal

The most common repair made to rolltop desks involves the parallel slats, which are designed to twist onto their sides when the top is rolled into the up (open desk) position. The slats are held in place with a wide piece of canvas, with hide glue used as the traditional adhesive. To begin, remove one side of the rolltop desk so that the slats maybe removed in one piece. Next, lay the slat assembly upside down and flat onto a large piece of plywood (or other work surface). Remove the old canvas from the back of the slats. Liberal use of glue remover will make the process easier.

Rolltop Repair

Once the canvas is gone, completely clean all the old glue residue from the slats. Be careful to keep the slats positioned in their original sequence. Over time, the slats wear small grooves into each other, which is never exactly the same among any two slats. Cut a new piece of canvas large enough to connect all the slats, but remember that no canvas is attached to the last 1/2 inch on either ends of the slats. This is the area that slides up and down in the grooves on each side of the desk wall. Stretch the canvas as tight as possible, and tack it down onto the plywood work surface. Apply glue to the canvas and the slats, then align them perfectly in order on the wet canvas. Once positioned correctly, place heavy objects across the slats to ensure they do not move.

Installation

After the glue has dried completely (at least a day), reinstall the slats. Trim any excess canvas if necessary. The canvas has probably shrunk a little bit, which will ensure a tight slat fit during installation. Also, be sure to thoroughly clean the grooves on either side of the desk before installing the slats. Apply a slight bit of graphite to the grooves to keep tight slats sliding properly. Install the slats carefully, then reattach the desk side wall. After a few pulls, the top should slide freely up and down as intended.




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