The easy way to dress up the edges of sheet goods. Plywood and melamine-coated particleboard have plenty of advantages over solid stock, but you do need to cover their unsightly edges. In our shop, adhesive-backed edge banding does the trick splendidly— and doesn't require any special tools.
Edge banding comes in species to match most hardwood plywoods including birch, cherry, mahogany, red oak, walnut, and white oak. It's also available in white, black, and almond shades of polyester plastic for edging melamine-coated particleboard. You'll most commonly find it in 13⁄16 "-wide strips (for 3⁄4 " sheet goods) in lengths of 8', 50', or 250'. This wood-veneer or plastic "tape" is backed with a hot-melt adhesive that forms a tough bond with plywood or particleboard edges. If you don't find it at your local home center, call the sources listed at the end of this article.
Edge-banding's advantage over solid-wood edging
We've found commercially made edge banding to be easier to work with, faster to install, and better-looking than solid-wood edging that we make in our own shop. That's because commercial edge banding requires no clamping, produces no glue squeeze-out, and is less noticeable than solid strips that are 1⁄4 "-or-so thick. You can even apply edge banding to curved edges—try doing that with solid strips! And edge banding holds up great so long as it's applied properly.
1. Ensure the sawn edge is smooth and flat; deep saw marks and large voids will cause problems. Then, set a common clothes iron on a high heat setting (you can buy commercial edge-banding irons if you fear getting glue on your clothes iron, but they're not necessary for good results on flat edges).
Starting with any edge on the sheetgood, cut a piece of edge banding about 1⁄2 " longer than the edge. (Large rolls of edge banding will have finger-jointed splices about every 8'. Work around these splices if they are noticeable.)
Center the edge banding on the edge, and with the iron apply heat to one end. Be careful to keep the banding centered with one hand as you advance the iron down the length of the banding as shown below. Move the iron steadily so you don't burn the wood or melt the plastic.
2. When working with curved edges, heat the tape with a heat gun as shown below. Heat short sections so the glue doesn't have a chance to cool too much before the next step.
3. Immediately after heating the adhesive with the iron or heat gun, press it down firmly for good adhesion. The iron normally presses the tape down adequately, but it's a good idea to go back over the banding with the back side of a chisel as shown at below.
On curved edges, use a hard roller as shown below.
Allow the hot-melt adhesive to cool for a minute; then run your fingers along the edges of the banding to check for good adhesion. Reheat and rub down any areas that lift up.
4. Trim away the excess banding with a sharp chisel. Start with the banding ends as shown below. Push the chisel in short strokes for good control, and don't be concerned about getting every last bit of the excess banding; you'll take care of the remainder in the next step.
If your chisels aren't sharp enough to handle this task, buy a hand-held commercial tripper from one of the sources listed at the end of this article.
5. Outfit a hardwood sanding block with 100- or 120-grit abrasive, and sand away the remaining excess as shown below. Repeat all of these steps for the remaining edges.
Constantine's Call 800/223-8087 or visit www.constantines.com
Woodcraft Call 800/535-4482 or visit www.woodcraft.com