How Do You Finish Birch Plywood Edges?

Birch plywood is more popular now compared to ordinary plywood due to its strength, durability, and affordability. It’s a piece of wood you’d be comfortable showing off to your guests at home as it’s used to make a wide range of furniture pieces. However, unfinished birch plywood edges may feel rough and unpleasant if not finished properly. But, how do you finish birch plywood edges?

To finish the edges of birch plywood edges, you’ll need to sand it well and then use super-blond or blond de-waxed shellac. Sanding will smoothen the surface, and the de-waxed shellac will fill in any imperfections without altering the plywood’s color. You can also use adhesive veneer strips.  

Birch plywood is commonly used in cabinetry because of its anesthetic appeal, light-weight, and durable nature. It’s a great choice for someone who wants that high-end look on their furniture without going for the exotic hardwoods. Therefore, you must know how to finish its edges for that final smooth appearance. This article explains how you can finish the birch plywood edges on your furniture pieces. 

How To Finish Birch Plywood Edges

Birch plywood is excellent for household furniture, especially those that are in hidden spots of the room. However, its downside is the rough, unfinished edges that can make it look unappealing. Finishing the edges improves the outlook of the furniture and also protects it from spills and other dirt. 

You can clearly see the considerable difference between well-polished plywood edges and exposed edges with no finishing done. If the edges are left exposed, they tend to get stained, react to different weather conditions, and accumulate dirt. 

With time, you’ll notice that the color of the uncovered edges changes and does not resemble the original color of the plywood. To avoid such, you can cover the edges and ensure that they look appealing all the way. 

You can finish birch plywood edges in two methods. 

Method 1: Edge Banding Using Strips of Adhesive Veneers

Here is a step by step guide to finish birch plywood edges using strips of adhesive veneers 

Step 1 – Choose all the finishing products you’ll need in the exercise

Before you start finishing the plywood edges, you must first consider the finishing products you’ll use and then choose the most appropriate ones. These products include wood glue, varnish, lacquer, etc. 

Like other wood projects, birch plywood may require you to apply some varnish or lacquer at the edges to conceal the open edges. So, you’ll have to consider the kind of finish you want so that you can easily make a choice. 

When choosing a suitable glue to use with the plywood, you should select one recommended for plywood so that it can adhere correctly and allow other finishes to apply properly. If you use any wood glue type, you risk having stains on your plywood or have other finishing products not adhering properly when you apply them. 

Once you have all that you need in one place, you can begin your finishing process. If you are unsure of your choices, try them out on a waste piece before proceeding with the main furniture you want to finish. 

Step 2 – Sand the edges well to smoothen out the rough areas

Applying finish on a rough surface will make it look even clumsier and unattractive. Therefore, before you start applying any finish on the edges, ensure that you do a good sanding on it using good sandpaper. 

How Do You Finish Birch Plywood Edges?

The best grit for the sandpaper you are using should range between 150 grit to 180 grit. Sand the edges thoroughly along the wood grain so that you don’t scar the plywood. Also, you must be careful about the amount of sanding you do so that you don’t dig too deep into the plywood. Remember that the finish veneer layer of the plywood is relatively thin for too much sanding. 

Also, you can consider using hand sandpaper or a vibratory sander instead of using a belt sander. This is because a belt sander is designed to scoop deeper and remove more material at once. Using it to smoothen the birch plywood edges will remove more material than you intend to remove. 

On the other hand, a vibratory sander or a hand sandpaper sand out the rough patches only, and you can easily control it. You can use them to smoothen out the edges to your desired level and achieve the feel you want. 

Once you have smoothened out all the rough parts, you can now wipe the wood dust with a wet piece of cloth and leave it to dry. 

Step 3 – Prepare the veneer. 

One of the methods to finish birch plywood edges is to use a strip of adhesive veneer of the same color as the plywood. They are available in the market and come with a roll with glue already fixed to it. The veneer strip covers the rough exposed area, giving it a uniform finish similar to the plywood’s color. 

Most veneers have a width of ¾” so that they can go well with most plywood edge widths. Since some plywood pieces can be less wide, some trimming or sanding may be required during fixing to give a smooth finish. 

The only preparation you’ll need to do is to trim the veneer to fit the size of the plywood’s edge. So, place the veneer on edge along its length and trim it with an inch longer on one side. This longer side acts as an allowance when fixing the veneer on the plywood edge. 

Step 4 – Clamp the plywood in position.

You’ll need to hold the plywood in position so that you can put the veneer properly. Clamp it on a vise clamp or any other clamp that can hold it tightly and in an upright position. The upright position will allow you to fix the veneer strip easily and correctly. 

This step is essential because the plywood piece will not wobble or destabilize as you fix it. You only need to fix the veneer correctly the first time so that you won’t have more tedious finishing to do after. 

Step 5 – Fix the veneer on the plywood edge.

When fixing the veneer, you can leave some of it about an inch overhanging on the side to allow you some flexibility when fixing it. Most veneers are adhesive to the plywood and are easily fixed by applying some heat to it using a household iron. 

Before you start fixing the veneer, you can plug the iron into the socket for preheating. Adjust the heat settings to the point indicated ‘cotton’ and leave it to heat. This heat limit is just enough to fix the veneer without destroying it. 

You can position the veneer on the polished birch plywood edges as the iron preheats, ensuring that it fits incorrectly. Then, use the iron to press onto the veneer to ensure that it adheres to the plywood edges completely. The heat melts the glue on the glue on the veneer and helps it stick on the edges properly. 

Wait for the veneer to cool down first, and then use a sharp pair of scissors to trim the overhanging veneer edges. A pair of scissors will be less vigorous on the veneer grains, unlike a blade that drags back and forth on the veneer. Other tools you can use include a utility knife or a trimming tool meant for this purpose.

Step 6 – Sand the edges for a smooth finish

As mentioned earlier, you can use hand sandpaper effectively to remove the rough parts without damaging them. Ensure that you use sandpaper with fine grit for that smooth finish. 

You’ll notice that some parts may require some wood filling, especially on the corners where two veneers are meeting. You can add a suitable wood filler for that. 

Method 2: Using an Appropriate Wood Filler 

The wood filler comes in handy to help smoothen out the rough edges. You’ll find different types of wood fillers available in the market today, and you can choose one that goes with the color of your birch plywood. 

However, wood fillers may not have the best outcome in the long run. For example, you may choose a wood filler type that has the same color as your plywood, but then after some time, you notice a difference in their color. This is because the plywood fades as time goes by, but the wood glue remains the same. 

How Do You Finish Birch Plywood Edges?

First, when choosing a suitable glue to go with the wood filler, you must consider other finishes you may want to do on the plywood edges afterward. As mentioned earlier, some wood glue types hinder other finishing products like paint from adhering properly on the edges. 

There is some wood glue designed for plywood finishing only, which would be a great choice. In that line, you can choose a wood filler that gives a natural tone on the edges and remains constant over time. 

The application of the wood filler does not call for many steps because it’s pretty straightforward. The wood filler doesn’t need any sanding out as preparation to apply it. The rough edges help the wood filler to adhere better to the plywood. 

You can use your fingers or a putty knife to apply the wood filler into the edges, allowing it to cover the cracks and gaps for a smooth finish at the surface. Fingers do a better job, and if you don’t have a putty knife, you can use them effectively. 

You don’t need to worry about the mess it causes on your hands and around you because it will easily wash off when washed with water. Also, using your fingers will be a little faster and help the wood filler adhere properly to the wood. 

After application, you can leave it for some time to dry before you sand it. The drying may take longer than when you use veneer strips because you’ll not use any heat to speed up the process. Even so, it’s important to wait for it to dry so that you can have an easy time sanding it. 

Once it’s dry, use fine-grit hand sandpaper to finish the surface without digging in too much. This will give you an opportunity to notice some areas that require some touch-up with more filler. You can also apply a second coat of wood filler if you deem it necessary. 

Each of these touch-ups and fill-ups will require some more time for drying. And once they dry, you sand the edges as much as you want in order to achieve that final smooth feel that you want on your birch plywood edges.

After sanding the edges, you can apply some clear varnish to give it a beautiful glow while maintaining its color. The varnish also acts to protect the plywood edges from dirt and other stains that may fall on them. 

The best thing about wood fillers is that they allow you to do more finishing on the plywood edges like painting. The paint adheres well with the wood fillers and gives your plywood edges the glow you want with the paint. 

Another great thing about using wood filler for finishing your birch plywood edges is the convenience they have when working with a piece of furniture that has some curves. Unlike veneers that require some skill in applying them on the corners, wood filler only requires you to apply the same way as the rest of the area. 


Finishing birch plywood edges may take you some time, but the end result will be excellent. It will spell out a great sense of taste without breaking the bank for exotic pieces of wood. With the steps discussed in this article, you are in a position to do it yourself without straining too much.

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