Plywood Edging Bits
Unlike the other edge-banding bit sets we looked at, the barrelshaped PlyPrep bit doesn't create male and female workpieces. Instead, it cuts a shallow cove into the edge of a plywood panel. Because of the cove, you can "clamp" the banding with mere masking tape: Glue causes the panel's interior plys to swell to meet the banding, creating a tight-fitting joint.
To use the bit, set it up in your router table so the groove in the center of the bit aligns with the center ply of the plywood. Then, adjust your fence so the top edge of the plywood just intersects the cutter. This allows the bit to remove little (if any) of the plywood's outer veneers. Solid-wood banding can now be glued to the freshly cut edge.
- Because the plys swell to meet the banding, we found we could successfully "clamp" the banding onto the plywood with only masking tape, yet still achieve a tight seam between the banding and plywood.
- Fast setup: You prepare the joints with one bit -- no bit changes or fussy height adjustments needed.
- You can rout an edge treatment, such as a chamfer, bullnose, or round-over, on the solid-wood banding.
- The dimensions of the plywood panel equal the "short" (heel-to-heel) dimensions of the banding for making mitered corners when banding all four edges.
- Color and grain differences between the plywood veneer and the solidwood banding can detract from the seamless look.
- Panels must be cut undersize to account for the thickness of the banding.
- If you don't center the bit properly on the plywood's thickness, the bit may remove too much material at the top or bottom edge, causing your banding to tilt slightly up or down.
- Not available for 1/2" plywood.
If you're looking for a fast, clampless way to band panels, the PlyPrep bit does the job, and for not a lot of money. It's also the best option for panels that you want to wrap completely in banding and show no end grain. Gotta have that seamless look? Then opt for a set of Edge V-groove bits. Remember, though, that these bits work best on shelving and other workpieces where you want banding on only one edge or two opposite edges because mitering corners is a hit-or-miss process.
©Copyright Meredith Corporation 2005
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