What Is Edge Banding?

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Edge banding is a common way of making inexpensive wood materials look more refined and more finished. Anyone familiar with a piece of furniture manufactured by Ikea has likely seen an example of edge banding. In edge banding, a length of a veneer product is applied to the raw edge of plywood or particle board (other surfaces can be used) and glued into place, thus given the edge a more finished appearance. Edge banding can also be used to make it seem as if a certain type of wood or metal is being used when, in fact, it is not. The practice is commonly used in interior decorating and in the manufacture of affordable furniture.

Types and Sizes

  • Edge banding is usually sold in rolls. The material itself may be made of actual wood, PVC, ABS, melamine, acrylic or wood veneer. The thickness of the material is generally less than 5 mm, though there are exceptions. The width and appearance can vary greatly. Solid colors, wood grains, metallic styles and many patterned possibilities are available.

Cutting and Preparing

  • Since edge banding comes in relatively thin strips, it is usually easy to cut it to fit the particular needs of your project. Cut larger pieces to start, so you can make adjustments later and minimize waste. It will always be easier to trim the edges to fit rather than cutting an entirely new piece.
    The surface of the wood must be prepared for the edge banding. Any dust, wood chips, shards, residue or sand must be cleaned away or the edge banding may not stick well.

Application

  • Some edge banding may use a self-stick method, like a sticker where you peel away the paper backing and then apply pressure. However, most edge banding comes with a hot-melt adhesive. You apply the edge banding using a clothes iron set on low heat. To prevent damage to the iron, use a sheet of aluminum foil between the banding and the iron. You can also glue on edge banding with contact cement and apply pressure with a roller.

Finishing

  • Once the edge banding is applied, it is supremely important to do any last minute trimming or sanding with extreme care. The banding is very thin and a large-grain sandpaper or a careless gesture with trimming tools could render the edge banding useless as an aesthetic cover.

The Edgebander

  • While edge banding is not a particularly difficult science to master, there does exist a machine--the edgebander--that will handle most aspects of the job all by itself. This may be useful when working in bulk and/or when repeating one furniture piece several times. The apparatus will bond the edge banding to the surface in question, trim superfluous bits at the head and tail, make sure the tops and bottoms are flush and square and also buff out the edges.

References

  • Photo Credit Oak Wood Grain Detail Close Up image by James Phelps from Fotolia.com
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