Iron-on edgebanding, the woodworking equivalent of the microwave meal

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Blog entry by bunkie posted 11-02-2009 02:55 PM 2226 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Yes, we’ve all been there, falling for the instant product whose convenience makes it irresistable, but which always delivers less than it promises.

I’m currently mid-way through a major project to build a full set of kitchen cabinets. Being a modern Scandinavian-American sort of guy, I like the stark look of clean lines so I went with a European frameless design for the cabinets. I’m using maple plywood (with veneer so thin that it’s more like “essence of maple” than actual veneer). That means that I have miles of plywood edging to hide. So I’ve turned to iron-on edgebanding.

I’ve actually used this stuff for years on various projects. As such, I’ve grown quite familiar with it. I have a few suggestions for trimming off the excess.

First, I’ve found that the gizmo made specifically to do this job has a couple of problems. First, it tends to tear the banding along the grain resulting in part of the plywood edging being exposed. Second, it doesn’t get completely into corners.

Resist the temptation to use a block plane. With plywood veneer being so thin these days, this is almost a guaranteed failure as you will take off too much material. The same goes for all but the most careful use of chisels.

So what works for me? I use the sawblade from an Olfa hobby saw. I don’t use the saw itself, just the blade. blade appears to be about 20 teeth per inch and is about 5 inches long and 2 inches wide. With a little practice, you can saw off almost all of the excess banding leaving almost nothing behind. I register the saw against the plywood and as I’m cutting, I flex it so that I cut the slightest chamfer. It’s important to back off the blade on the return stroke so as to prevent the banding from pulling away from the plywood.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

4 comments so far

View eastside's profile


97 posts in 3257 days

#1 posted 11-02-2009 03:06 PM

Bunkie I have had the same problem of it following the grain when using the products sold in the stores. They work well on the colored tape with no grain but not on wood. What I do is put a new blade in the utility knife and cut from under the tape like you do and press down on the top of the tape with a small scrap of wood about 4 or 5 inches long just big enough to hold in your hand. Then dray the knife and the block at the same time towards you in a light stroke. Two swipes and its cut.

-- Mike, Westport MA.

View RKW's profile


328 posts in 3443 days

#2 posted 11-02-2009 11:32 PM

ive never used banding, i prefer hardwood edges. Is there any benefit to the iron on stuff other than convienance and speed?

-- RKWoods

View bunkie's profile


412 posts in 3143 days

#3 posted 11-03-2009 02:09 AM


None that I can think of. But when you have 200+ lineal feet of plywood edges to deal with, those two benefits loom large.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

View Phred's profile


53 posts in 3717 days

#4 posted 11-03-2009 03:37 AM

I just ran into the same problem myself.. although my brother was helping, and he wasn’t to worried about the banding tearout as I was… So.. now I have to re-do half of it.

Eastside, I like the idea of the knife, I was just searching for a better way to trim that stuff! :)

And.. after the first kitchen that I did where I glued on 1/4” thick edgebanding, then routered it flush.. yes.. I am using Iron-on, and yes.. it saves TONS of time…....

Next time I will charge more money for the 1/4” thick edgebanding…......

-- But honey.. this new power tool will pay for itself when we re-do the kitchen!

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