Roll Top Desk Flip!

Bryan's Workshop
by Bryan's Workshop
9 Materials
1 Week

This old roll top got painted!

I know some of y'all are seeing that red and screaming at the computer 'WHY???'

....beacuse it's awesome silly!

This is the flipped roll top looking marvelous!

Check out the before picture. We bought it on for about $10. It was in BAD shape! The top of the desk and fronts of the drawers were all scratched up and the tambour door needed the back re-canvased. is a popular site in Japan where you can sell anything.

I needed to sand a couple millimeters off of the top to smooth everything out. I sanded it so much that I lost the lovely step half bullnose edging that goes around it.

I used my random orbital sander and 80, 120, 180, 220 sandpaper in that order. This was the most tedious part, but only took me a few hours.

I waxed the tops and drawer fronts with Jacobean Briwax.

I love briwax!

It cleans, stains, polishes and looks amazing! I apply it with a lint free rag, wait about 20 minutes and buff it with a shoe shine brush.

We used Annie Sloan Emperor's Silk chalk paint for the color. I know that it's easy to make chalk paint, but we wanted to try out this specific color on this desk.

Please share your recipes in the comments!

We waxed the chalk paint with Annie Sloan Clear Chalk Paint Wax followed by Dark Soft wax.

This is directly from

Annie demonstrates how to bring depth of color and texture to your paint work using her dark Chalk Paint® Wax.

1. This is best achieved when Chalk Paint® is a little thick so don't add water to the paint. You may need to leave the paint pot open for a short time to make it thicken a little.

2. Apply Chalk Paint®, moving the brush in different directions to create texture.

3. Now it is painted and dry, tackle the waxing a section at a time. First apply Clear Chalk Paint® Wax allowing it to absorb into the paint so the surface seems 'dry' to the touch.

4. Now apply Dark Chalk Paint® Wax rubbing every which way so the Dark Wax seeks out all the crevices and texture of the painted surface.

5. Leave to absorb for a minute or so then wipe off the excess with a clean cloth.

6. The Dark Wax should now be apparent filling the grooves and ruts in the paint work. To clean the paint, gently wipe with Clear Wax.

Annie Sloan has great techniques and tips on her website.

The tambour door!

This isn't as difficult as it looks. The door on this roll top desk is held together by fabric glued to the back of it. I needed to replace the fabric and this is how I did.

*When removing the door, draw numbers on the ends of the pieces of wood so you can easily put them back in the original order.

After removing the old fabric and sanding the back of the door, I built a frame on a piece of plywood to hold it.

*Cut the fabric first!

*Paint or stain the front of the tambour door before gluing fabric on the back!

-Lay the door facedown with all of the pieces in order.

-Measure and cut pieces of wood the height and length of the door. You're going to screw pieces of wood around the door to keep it from moving while you're gluing fabric to it.

*Cover the frame wood with painters tape so the door doesn't stick to it!

*Don't glue fabric to the part of the door that slides in the door track!

-Smear glue all over the back of the door avoiding the sliding areas.

-Cover the glue with the new fabric.

-Press down the fabric and press out excess glue.

-Cover with something heavy for 24 hours or manufactures suggestion.


This is the desk with out the roll top part.


I am a fan of this color!

For more fun stuff, check me out on Facebook and Instagram!

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  2 questions
  • Frank Frank on Mar 30, 2019

    Does the Jacobean Briwax come in differant colors?

  • Cutthroat Charity Cutthroat Charity on Sep 08, 2019

    Disclaimer: I'm a fan of natural wood. With that said, I LOVE how this desk turned out! Thank you so much for the info on how to redo the fabric on the roll top! Could you use painter's tape on the part of the door that slides in the door track to help keep the glue off of that section, guide where to put the fabric, & to assist in keeping the pieces together?

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