Working with plywood is an economical way to build furniture, but it has a major downside: the dreaded plywood edge.
It doesn’t paint well, it doesn’t stain well, and it gives away the fact that you didn’t use solid wood on your entire project.
Luckily, it’s really easy to finish plywood edges to give your plywood projects a more professional look. There are a few different options to cover your plywood edges, but today we’ll focus on edge banding.
Before we dive into the how-to, let’s get a few questions about edge banding answered.
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What is iron-on edge banding and is it durable?
Iron-on edge banding is a strip of wood veneer with heat-activated adhesive on the back. When you run on iron along the adhesive, it melts the adhesive and adheres the veneer to your surface. It’s a great method for finishing plywood edges.
Yes! Iron-on edge banding is durable, if you apply it correctly that is. It’s a simple application process, but there are a few key things you need to keep in mind. We’ll cover all the details you need to know to get a durable result.
Can edge banding be painted? Stained?
Edge banding can be painted or stained. Since the edge banding is a wood veneer, if you get the edge banding that matches your wood type, your paint or stain should take to your edge-banding the same it takes to the rest of your plywood.
The key is to get edge banding that matches your wood type. If you have red oak plywood, you need red oak edge banding. Birch plywood? Get birch edge banding.
How do you trim edge banding?
The short answer is to use an edge trimmer, but we’ll go into more detail in the full tutorial.
Alright, let’s start DIYing!
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What You’ll Need
How to Install Plywood Edge Banding
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STEP 1: CUT YOUR EDGE BANDING
Cut your edge banding to 1-3″ longer than your piece of plywood. If you go longer, that’s a-okay.
You can use scissors or you can simply bend it up and down a few times to snap the edge banding.
STEP 2: IRON ON YOUR EDGE BANDING
Your edge banding should be wider than the plywood edge you’re covering. Center up the edge banding on the plywood so that you have an equal overhang on both sides.
Starting at one end, start ironing your edge banding. Run your iron across the entire plywood edge to get it generally in place, then slowly go back over the edge banding 1-2 times.
Move slow enough for the adhesive to really warm up.
As you’re ironing, make sure to keep your iron level. You don’t want to tilt off towards one side.
Wait 5-10 minutes for the adhesive to cool down. This is VERY important. Don’t try to trim your edge banding until it’s cool.
STEP 3: TRIM THE ENDS
To trim the ends, simply bend the edging down along the end of the board. Then fold it back up and back down a few times until it snaps off.
STEP 4: TRIM THE SIDES
Place your plywood slightly off the edge of a table so that the excess edge banding on the side is facing up.
Line your edge trimmer up with the edge of your board and glide it across your plywood.
Apply downward pressure so that the edge trimmer cuts a close to the edge of your plywood as possible.
You can go over your entire piece or just certain sections multiple times with the edge trimmer if needed.
Flip your plywood over and repeat with the other side.
STEP 5: SAND
Using 120-220 grit sandpaper, lightly sand the edges and sides of your edge banding. The key here is to get everything nice and smooth.
Sometimes we don’t get the ends or sides trimmed down perfectly and you can see some of the edge banding extending past the end of the board. You want to look for areas like that and sand it down until you can’t see where the plywood ends and the edge banding begins.
STEP 6: IRON AGAIN
This is the last step that most people skip over, but is really helpful in ensuring lasting results.
Go over your edge banding with the iron one more time. Make sure that every little inch of your edge banding is ironed down and adhered to the plywood edge.
The most common place to have issues is on the ends. Go over each corner one last time.
There you have it! Now you know how to finish plywood edges using edge banding! The key to lasting results is to make sure that there’s no edge banding extending past the plywood edge and that everything is fully ironed down.
Discovering that there is really is easy to finish plywood edges opens up a lot of DIY possibilities. Suddenly you go from feeling limited by plywood to being able to use it on just about anything. From painted TV lift cabinets to stained oak litterboxes. The possibilities are endless!