Solid edge banding glued to plywood.

Just glue it on and trim it, what more needs to be said? There are actually a few things to consider that might help the job along easily and with happy results. Applying solid wood edge banding, or lippings, is a routine job for me when making kitchens, bookcases, and even shop fixtures. Here is how I go about it.

First, the stock, in this case ¼” thick, is 13/16” wide and leaves enough, but not too much, wood overhanging each face of the nominal ¾” plywood so that it is not a fussy business during glue up to align it if the edge banding, panel, or both are not perfectly straight.

Next is grain direction, and this is worth looking into. Whether you plan to trim the edge banding flush by means of a router table or hand plane you want the lipping to have the grain laying in the correct direction when you work it. So, looking at the face grain straight on, in a perfect situation the grain lines would look like this (you’d be planning from right to left).

RS Face

Consider end grain perspective as well. Looking at it straight on in this photo, the right face would be going against the edge of the plywood, the wood grain running vertically from eleven to five o’clock.

RS End

T shaped supports, the top edges covered with tape for easy glue removal, are real work horses in my shop. Flat cardboard standoffs allow the lower edge of the banding to drop below the face of the plywood the same amount as above. Small differences are immaterial because you have enough waste.

RS T supports

I don’t use blue or green tape to “clamp” the lippings but instead use clamps. Unlike solid wood against solid wood, the plywood edges, even sawn with the best blades, have some fuzz and spring back: there are only 40% long grain fibers, and my experience has made me decide to spend the time properly applying clamping pressure for a failsafe job.

RS 3 clamps

Glue gets worked into the fibers with a toothbrush.

RS Toothbrush

It is a pretty accurate tool. My goal is to cover the fibers but have very little squeeze out. On the lipping itself I make sure there is an even covering by holding it against a raking light.

RS Inspecting glue

Before clamping I check that the panel is flat against the cardboard pieces and that the lower edge of the lipping contacts the T support. Notice that the extra clamping block is also raised by cardboard standoffs so that the force is centered.

RS Ready for glue up

RS Centered clamping pressure

There is minimum squeeze out.

After trimming on the router table

RS Router table

the surfaces look quite flush

RS After flush trim

but your fingers might tell you that there is a small amount yet to remove. The L-N scraping plane does a superb job of that. The blocks on either edge protect the trailing fibers when you work across grain.

RS Scraping flush

Usually the panel is oversized and brought to finished dimensions after completing the edge banding work. However, there are times when the panel size is fixed. Typically I would score a knife line, saw, and use a block plane to bring the end of the lipping perfectly flush. On shorter pieces I’ve developed a tablesaw technique for this which I’m not recommending but just demonstrating: all tablesaw work is dangerous!

The positioning jig/block has acetal on the edge the plywood runs against.

RS End flush cut jig

With the panel laid so the front and rear teeth are in very light contact (saw turned off!) I align the block and switch on the magjig.

RS Aligning end flush cut

The excess that needs trimming is no more than half the width of the saw blade. That way it won’t grab the material. The panel is pushed forward just enough to cut the piece off and then the panel is pulled away to the left. The stroke is short, quick, and controlled.

TS Trimmed flush

Solid edge banding is available from Vogt Toolworks. To learn about it click here.

RS Edgebanding balancing

2 comments to Solid edge banding glued to plywood.

  • Love the toothbrush tip! Seems so logical when you think about it now, but have never used it in such manner before. As for using table saw like that I can only agree that it is very dangerous. Got a fellow woodworking neighbor who lost all his fingers on one arm pulling such stunts. Luckily they were able to sew them back. Since that time I tend to be very very careful when working with one. Other than that, awesome demonstration and really helpful tips.

  • Devon

    What i do when i do really tight rippping of boards (1 inch or narrower), i use a sacrificial peice of half inch plywood that i make a totally flat with a lip on one end then use the regular push stick for the outside support. this way your fingers are not near the table saw blade.

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