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    jansbook's Avatar
    jansbook Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Jul 2, 2007, 08:07 AM
    Unlocking drawers on roll top desk
    I have a roll top desk that I purchased in 1988 or 89. I can neither get the top to roll down nor open the side drawers. There are two keys - one of which opens a small compartment on the top of the desk - the other unlocked the roll top. The roll top is now stuck in an opened position and I can't unlock the drawers. HELP!
    Clough's Avatar
    Clough Posts: 26,678, Reputation: 1649
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    #2

    Jul 3, 2007, 12:28 AM
    I'm not understanding why the roll top is stuck in an open position. It would seem to me that it should be moving freely if it is already unlocked.
    jansbook's Avatar
    jansbook Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #3

    Jul 6, 2007, 06:31 AM
    It was moving before. However, when we set up this computer, I had to push the top all the way up. It then became stuck. There are two different keys to the desk. The longer one moves the lock on the roll top and unlocked it. I have no idea what the smaller one does. The center drawer is unlocked, and I think this is controlled by the roll top lock. There are four drawers on either side of the desk front, and these are the ones that remain locked. I cannot locate another key hole!
    Clough's Avatar
    Clough Posts: 26,678, Reputation: 1649
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    #4

    Jul 6, 2007, 11:20 AM
    I know it's a pain, but you should be able to take the back of the desk off. There might be two separate parts for the back - one for the bottom and one for the roll top. The back piece or pieces may be attached to the frame of the desk with large staples, nails or screws. Chances are, that the back is not also glued on in addition to being fastened on with the fasteners. However, it might also be attached with glue. If it is, it will be much harder to get it off.

    If staples, then you carefully pry out the staples with a small screwdriver and then pull on them with a pair of pliers. If nails, then you can try prying the nails out the same way. However, you may need to pry off the back itself with a large chisel inserted in the cracks. If screws, just unscrew them.

    My point is, that if you can get the back off, you should be able to see why the roll top is stuck and then be able to free it.

    As far as the drawers are concerned, there might be a mechanism that is keeping them locked that you should also be able to see by taking off the back.
    jansbook's Avatar
    jansbook Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #5

    Jul 7, 2007, 05:43 PM
    I think that the next time a "handy" friend visits, I will either ask that person to help or to "break" into the drawers and forget about the locks. The desk is extremely heavy and difficult to move. I do however, want something that maybe locked in one of the drawers!
    Stratmando's Avatar
    Stratmando Posts: 11,188, Reputation: 508
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    #6

    Jul 7, 2007, 07:41 PM
    If forced up, will need to be forced down, force with key one way and then turn other way.
    A "Handy" friend may apply more force than you would want to. A good thing.
    jansbook's Avatar
    jansbook Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #7

    Jul 8, 2007, 12:40 PM
    I have two different keys for the desk. One is clearly for the top because when inserted, it moves the locking/unlocking mechanism for the roll top. The other one does nothing, and I am assuming it is for the side drawers. Has anyone ever seen WHERE another key hole might be on a roll top desk? It sounds like something at the rear of the side drawers is preventing opening them.
    JimllWaxIt's Avatar
    JimllWaxIt Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
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    #8

    Jul 11, 2007, 11:33 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by jansbook
    I have a roll top desk that I purchased in 1988 or 89. I can neither get the top to roll down nor open the side drawers. There are two keys - one of which opens a small compartment on the top of the desk - the other unlocked the roll top. The roll top is now stuck in an opened position and I can't unlock the drawers. HELP!
    Hi, I am an antique furniture restorer by trade and It sounds like the slats on your rolltop have come unstuck from there hessian backing causing them to jam? This has probably fouled the locking mechanism for the other drawers? This really is not a DIY job to repair and is best left to a professional. I am based in Exeter and if I can be of any more help please let me know. Good luck, Jim
    jansbook's Avatar
    jansbook Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #9

    Jul 11, 2007, 07:44 PM
    Where is Exeter?
    Stratmando's Avatar
    Stratmando Posts: 11,188, Reputation: 508
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    #10

    Jul 11, 2007, 08:04 PM
    I was wondering where Exeter was also, sounds like Expensive Shipping.(Doesn't sound close to here).
    JimllWaxIt's Avatar
    JimllWaxIt Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
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    #11

    Jul 11, 2007, 11:29 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by jansbook
    Where is Exeter?
    Sorry, I am in Exeter, Devon, U.K.
    I am new to this site and I didn't realise you had already had previous responses to your question or your location. I was searching Google for a "rolltop desk lock" for a restoration project I am doing for a customer, found your question and thought I could help. :o
    jansbook's Avatar
    jansbook Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #12

    Jul 13, 2007, 06:41 AM
    Thanks for trying. It was a good idea to talk to a furniture restorer rather than a wrecking crew! I am going to locate someone in my city.
    statictable's Avatar
    statictable Posts: 436, Reputation: 34
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    #13

    Jul 30, 2007, 05:04 AM
    In my experience the rack of side drawers are locked automatically when you close the top drawer. Perhaps your desk requires the top drawer or slat roll to be down and locked. I agree with others about the slat roll, might have been pushed beyond it's stop like a bumbershot pushed up the chimney. Slowly try lowering the roll from left then right and so on. If you feel the slats have simply expanded in the wood channel then a small amount of silicone spray could solve it. Good luck and enjoy.
    jansbook's Avatar
    jansbook Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #14

    Jul 31, 2007, 08:12 AM
    Where should the silicone be sprayed?!
    statictable's Avatar
    statictable Posts: 436, Reputation: 34
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    #15

    Jul 31, 2007, 12:54 PM
    The squeek should be at a junction or union; where 2 or more pieces conect. If able to get close to the squeek try a general over spray of that area. If it still squeeks go to the next closest area and spray again. Two people are needed and try turning the item up side down. If all else fails I'll just fly out and give some help. Good luck
    jansbook's Avatar
    jansbook Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #16

    Aug 1, 2007, 09:33 AM
    There is no squeak... the roll top is jammed in the open position, and the drawers will not unlock!
    statictable's Avatar
    statictable Posts: 436, Reputation: 34
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    #17

    Aug 1, 2007, 01:25 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by jansbook
    I have a roll top desk that I purchased in 1988 or 89. I can neither get the top to roll down nor open the side drawers. There are two keys - one of which opens a small compartment on the top of the desk - the other unlocked the roll top. The roll top is now stuck in an opened position and I can't unlock the drawers. HELP!
    Sorry Jan; For some reason an answer relating to a squeek in a chair ended up in your section. As for the roll top, remove the top drawer and look for a metal rod which engages the lock mech. For the side drawers. If your desk is so equipped you'll be able to manipulate the metal rod while gently trying to open a side drawer. Best of luck.
    bjele's Avatar
    bjele Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #18

    Feb 8, 2009, 05:11 PM
    I realize this is an old thread, but it is coming up first in Google for stuck drawers in a roll-top desk. I just had a situation where the right-side drawers were all stuck in an Oak Crest roll top desk. I am documenting what I did to fix the problem, in case anyone else runs into this in the future.

    1) Remove the top center drawer. (There is a small clip on each side of the track that you need to release to remove that drawer.

    2) From the floor, look up to where the drawer used to be. You will see four phillips head screws that attach the top to the desk. Remove these four screws. (Two of them would have been accessible without removing the drawer, but you have to remove them all).

    3) Move to the left side of the desk. From the ground, look up underneath the ledge. There are two more screws there holding the top on. Remove those.

    4) Repeat step 4 for the right side of the desk. Note that the screws are in a slightly different position since the shelf slides out from that side.

    5) Now that you've removed all eight screws, you and a helper should be able to lift the desk surface (and the roll top) up off the pedestals. Set this aside.

    6) On the right side, there are two retractable shelves blocking your view of the drawers. Slide these shelves out.

    7) 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. Somehow, the wooden shaft had moved down on my desk, locking all three drawers. There is a pivoting wooden "lift" at the top of the mechanism.

    Here is the really strange thing with this Oak Crest desk... there is nothing to activate the pivoting locking levers. You would think that these pivoting levers would attach to the top center drawer, but that must have been an optional feature with this desk. Gravity and age are working against this mechanism. I tried tightening the screw to prevent the lever from pivoting, but this didn't look like it would be successful. So - I removed two phillips-head screws at the top of the vertical shaft and set it aside. This should prevent those drawers from accidentally getting locked in the future.

    8) Push the retractable shelves back to their closed position.

    9) Put the desk surface back on top of the pedestal. I watched from underneath and instructed my son to bump the surface a bit this way and a bit that way until the screw holes lined up again.

    10) "Open" the top center drawer rails. Get the drawer lined up with the rails. Push the drawer all the way in until it locks.

    The whole process took perhaps 15 minutes. Given that the drawers have been accidentally locked for months, I should have jumped in a while ago and just done this. The only tool needed was a phillips screwdriver. I am generally a complete moron when it comes to repairs, and I would classify this one as easy.
    rolltoplover's Avatar
    rolltoplover Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #19

    Dec 29, 2010, 04:04 AM
    YAY! Thank you so much! Im a teen and my wonderful Grandma bought me an antique roll top and its massive! I absolutely love it! Just a few minutes ago it got stuck in the closed position and I thought it was going to be a goner. Thank goodness I had the idea of looking up a way to open it online. Now its all back to normal and I'm as happy as can be with my handsome roll top! Thank you! This helped tremendously!
    kdengelman's Avatar
    kdengelman Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #20

    Oct 9, 2011, 10:29 PM
    I know how to unlock. Still trying? kdengelman@yahoo.com
    Have one like it, trying to get info on it. Please contact

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