DIY Edge-banding (furniture board edging)

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In our current van, we used lightweight ply and the “standard” campervan method of edging which is using a slot router to cut a groove, and then hammer in t-edge edging.  This can work quite well and works for cupboard doors and table edges,

But, in higher class motorhomes and pro built ones, the manufactures have access to other edging systems and usually skilled people to do it….. Some use better edging, or solid wood, or just a wooden frame.

In Van#2 design, we want a much better finish than the current van – and that means being pro standard with pro features.  Sadly lacking skills and equipment. We still want to use the lightweight ply so we still need to be able to “edge” it.

Finished edging (note: scrap wood and testing, not perfect!)

I’ve seen companies offering edge-banding services, but unless you know *exactly* what you want, that’s difficult to arrange – especially if you work on the fly without design (that’s me!)

Anyway, I thought I’d give it a go at home to see if it was possible.  Please note, I was doing this on scrap material and not making a huge effort.  I was checking if it was feasible or not – and yes, it is!  And yes, I will use this method on van#2 – colours TBD

What is edge-banding?  Well its “thick” edging that is stuck on the edge of furniture board in ABS/PVC.  You know the iron-on edging thats cheap and nasty?  Well its like that, but much thicker (up to 3mm) and not pre glued.  I’ve tested 2mm stuff and its very solid and seems to be impact resistant

I had a few offcuts of furniture board from the current van and ordered some bits to play with.  The things needed are:-

Technique

Corner just stuck on about to be clamped
  1. Cut your wood as you need – either plunge saw or routed edge – it does need to be neat and 90′ cuts with neat edge to finished surface
  2. Do 2x edges at a time, opposite each other (if you can, not essential)
  3. Use selotape to tape newspaper to good surface – and have the tape overlapping the edge you are gluing (all sides) so that the edge you are spraying appears slightly recessed surrounded by tape. Ensure full coverage
  4. Spray contact adhesive on both of the edges.  Remove tape/paper carefully after 30s or so
  5. Cut the edging longer than the edge, and spray contact adhesive on back – ensure full coverage
  6. Wait till glue tacky, then put edging on to wood (it will stick instantly) – do both sides – then put scrap wood on and clamps to compress the edge into the wood
Glued and clamped

The edge I used was 22mm and the board 15mm so it overhangs both edges (which is fine).  Have a cuppa

  1. After cuppa, release clamps and you should have 2 well stuck edges but overhanging.
  2. Apply masking tape to the surface just below the edge to protect the wood from damage from router bearing.
  3. Set edge router up with flush cut bit, and have it so the bearing is 4-5mm into the wood and the cutter cuts all the edge. 
  4. Clamp workpiece and run the router around the workpiece running it flush along the edge.  This will cut off most of the excess.  Ensure the “ends” overhanging the other edges are as flush as possible
  5. Once complete the edges will still be slightly lipped – that’s fine for now
  6. Now tape, glue, and fix the two remaining edges, with the edge overlapping the end of the other edges.  Clamp and time for another brew.  Once drink finished use router again to trim excess and be careful on the corners..  Then remove all tape. 
Edging, chamfered

You will have a workpiece that is now edged “okay” on 4 sites and looks a “ok” at best and the edge is lipped over slightly.  That’s fine.  Now the finishing touches!

  1. Use cloths & meths and scraper to remove glue, tape marks and everything else
  2. Set up router with chamfer bit, use scrap wood and make sure it takes only 50-75% of the edge off.  e.g. 2mm edging, you only want 1-1.5mm to be cut out on the 90′ angle.
  3. You can use palm router or router table if you have one.
  4. Run workpiece around, all edges, including the corners.
  5. Once done, the lip overhang will still be there but will now be a lot thinner as the chamfer has thinned the plastic.  Being vvvvv careful, use scraper (with new blade) to go along the surface and trim the lip off (its much easier to do now its thinner than before)
  6. Once all of the edging is now flush, you may want to repeat the chamfer bit on the router as this may have a better finish. 
  7. Once that’s done, its finished!!
Finished corner (ignore bearing damage, see tips!)

TIPS:

  • The surfaces must be 100% covered in glue – don’t do too much but better more than less.
  • Taping around all 4 of the edges and overhanging when spraying makes a lot less mess!  Remove tape soon after spraying
  • Ensure the router bearing is free each time (be careful) as the plastic melts and may get inside stopping free spinning and damaging the workpiece
  • GO SLOW – its a lot harder to do than t-edge.  Practice on scrap.
  • Curves are doable, hair-dryer or hot air gun helps.
  • Don’t have the cutting blade of the flush cut bit too long – 2mm over the edge is fine – any more risks damaging the surface
  • Taping surface before doing the flush edge bit protects the surface from bearing drag/burn.
  • Use fresh blades and make sure they are clean. Replace often!

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