When creating new wood furniture, you may find yourself getting as much plywood as possible; the wood is strong and affordable. However, when looking at the edges, you will see that plywood does not have a perfect finish, requiring edgebanding to look the best it possibly can.
To apply edgebanding on plywood, you need a hot iron, a sharp knife, and sandpaper to get everything fitting perfectly. Starting from one corner, press the edgeband down using the iron, which activates the glue, slowly moving around the edge of the plywood piece until it is covered with the edgeband.
However, applying edgebanding ideally requires that you do a bit more than simply ironing it on and sanding it perfectly smooth. We recommend that you follow our step-by-step process to have edgebanding that won’t peel off and won’t look out of place on your plywood.
What Tools Will You Need To Edgeband Plywood?
The simplest thing about applying edgebanding to your plywood is the set of tools you will need to apply it, which are all things you can find lying around the house of an artisan. We recommend getting a few fresh things to ensure that you won’t be slapped for getting glue on the only iron in the house.
Most workshops have a set of tools specifically for the application of edgebanding because the edgebanding can be damaged if older tools are used. However, edgebanding is, fortunately, one of the things that you can try to do repeatedly until you get a perfect application.
This is the knife that any workshop on earth has, and it will be the only one you need to cut through edging. The knife can easily cut through the edging when you have the right length, and it will be used to trim off any excess edging that may be sticking out on the sides of the plywood.
We recommend getting a fresh set of blades when you do edging to ensure that your cuts are always clean and straight. The knife will also help you make perfectly seamless 90 degree turns without breaking or cutting the edging, which is an essential part of making a piece look solid.
The most important part of the edging is the hot iron you will be using, as this is how the glue of the edging will be activated. Using a small blast of steam and pressing down with the iron, the glue on the bottom of the edging activates, adheres the edging to the plywood.
However, as you are using the iron on the edging, you will damage the surface of the iron, especially the fine point. This is why we recommend buying an iron when you are constantly edging, avoiding damaging the expensive iron you may later want to use on your clothes.
Many edging is already perfectly smooth; however, when trimming and cutting the edging, you create hard edges that can splinter. Using fine sandpaper to make these edges smooth and bevel, everything perfectly will assist in creating the perfect edging that looks smooth and is smooth.
People often forget to sand down their edging, creating a product that is rough on the fingers and can be uncomfortable to hold. The rougher edges of the edging eventually cause it to be peeled off as people are using the table or piece you have made.
Sealer Or Finisher
Some edging is already wax-sealed when you apply it; however, you will often find that the edging is entirely untreated. This means that you will have to seal it or stain it to fit in with the rest of your piece; this must be done after the edging has been applied.
You can use a type of sealer or finisher that you would generally use on plywood, as the edging is most often completely untreated. This is done to ensure that artisans can easily have a uniform look throughout their pieces when using edging on different types of wood.
What Are The Steps To Applying Edgeband To Plywood?
Now that you have your tools ready, as basic as they may be, we can start to apply the edging and prepare the surface you are applying it to. Many people have made the mistake of just applying the edging then later finding that the edging is peeling off at weird angles.
The steps to applying the edging are not complicated or hard to follow, but if not done in the correct order, you will be making much more work for yourself down the line. If done correctly, the edging will last as long as the piece of furniture you are making, with the edging showing the good weathering as everything else.
1.Measuring The Width Of The Edges
Before you start applying everything, you need to ensure that the edging is the right width for the piece you are working on. You can get edging only a few millimeters in width while others can easily be one or two inches wide; using the right width will save many hours of pain.
We recommend that you have the exact width of the piece ready, but being a bit wider will not be the end of the project. However, you cannot use edging that is thinner than the side of plywood you are trying to seal, as this will leave open gaps and make the piece look worse than it already does.
2. Cutting The Edging To The Right Length
You should measure the entire length you will need with a measuring tape, put it on each side, and then add it all together to get a rough estimate of how much you will need. Once you have this, add one to two inches for safety and then cut the edging using the Stanley knife.
Before you start applying the edging, you can dry-fit it around the piece to ensure there won’t be a gap anywhere on the piece. We recommend not cutting the edging until you have started applying it and the two edges meet each other; this creates the perfect connection.
3. Preparing The Edges Of The Plywood
Most often, you won’t have to do much to the plywood edges to get it ready for the edging, usually just sanding a bit here and there to get it all perfectly level. However, you will need to look for dirty areas, dust on them, or glue them.
You need to remove all of these with sandpaper or a sharp chisel to ensure that it can perfectly marry the plywood when the edging is added. If you have ever wondered why edging suddenly goes loose in the middle of a piece, it is because the wood was dirty or dusty when the edging was applied.
4. Dry Fitting The Edging On The Wood And Bending
Now that everything is read, we need to do the final dry fitting and cut the slit to make the perfect 90-degree turns. Clamp the edging onto the area where you want to start the gluing process and start fitting everything, making a mar where the first corner has to be.
Putting the edging on a flat surface, lightly score it with the Stanley knife, making a small groove, and then bend the edging to fit the corner. Repeat the entire process for every corner, using clamps to hold down the edging on every corner that has been scored to make sure you have the exact measurements.
5. Place Edging At Back Of The Piece And Start Ironing
If your piece has a back, you need to start applying the edging from there and then move forward. Your edging should already be a dry fit to the piece; using the iron, start heating at the back between a gap of the clamps, heating the glue to melt, and adhering to the edging.
As you move around the piece, remember not to touch the part where the iron has been as it will be scalding hot. All the pressure should be applied with the iron, using the steam as little as possible as the heat alone will activate the glue and adhere to the plywood.
6. Slowly Pushing Down On The Edging With The Iron, Apply The Edging
You will need to move slowly; applying to the edge is not something you can do in a few minutes and then be done with. It may take you an hour to finish applying the edging on a simple piece of furniture, with many larger pieces requiring full days to complete.
The trick with edging is moving slow enough to active the glue through the wood but not moving so slow that you are causing burn marks to appear on the edging. You need to constantly look that the edging is perfectly aligned and that you are applying enough heat and pressure to the edging.
7. Wait For Everything To Dry And Then Test
Once you are done, the glue will only take a few minutes to dry completely. We recommend leaving the piece for thirty or more minutes to ensure that everything is perfect. You should have cut off the excess edging when you finally joined the two ends together to create a perfect seem.
Once enough time has passed, you need to lightly pull on the ending to ensure that it has adhered to the plywood. You should not be trying to pull the edging off the plywood; instead, you should just light push or pull on the small pieces of overhang to see that the glue has worked perfectly.
8. Cut Off Excess Edging Using Knife And Sand Smooth
Using your Stanley knife, you will now cut the edging to the perfect width of the plywood piece; start anywhere you may feel comfortable. Push through the edging with the knife’s point and then slowly cut along the edge of the piece; the knife should easily glide through the edging.
Once all the excess edging has been cut off, we need to start sanding everything and ensure that the edging is perfectly smooth. However, you should be careful as you only have a few millimeters to work with. We recommend only moving through three finer grits as this will be more than enough.
9. Apply Finish Or Sealant To Edging And Plywood
Now that the edging has been applied to the plywood, you can start applying the stain, sealant, or varnish that you would like to use. The edging and the plywood can be sealed with the same finish, creating the perfect marriage between the edging and the plywood.
Many people recommend finishing the plywood first to prevent swelling when applying the finish; however, this is a mistake. The finish you are applying may prevent the edging from being glued onto the piece, and there the swelling that does occur during finishing does not affect the edging at all.
Why Does Plywood Need Edging?
Plywood is not one solid piece of wood with a beautiful grain all on its own; instead, it is several thin pieces of plywood that have been interlaced. This means that the wood is made out of several different pieces of wood that have been fitted together, with the grain going in a perpendicular direction.
This creates a lightweight, extremely strong wood but does not cost nearly as much like many other kinds of wood on the market. However, this strength has the visual weakness that plywood does not look good at all, with each layer of wood giving a different look to the grain.
Further, the glue is also visible from the side of the plywood, which usually looks like transparent or yellow globs along the edge of the plywood. To cover this, edging is added to the plywood, making it look as good as any other piece of wood at only a fraction of the cost.
Applying edging to your plywood is not one of the most difficult things you will be doing when working with plywood. However, it is one of the most technical parts and will require you to do it perfectly to have a seamless combination with the wood.
Whatever you do, please don’t use a steamer; that just causes swelling and other problems to arise!