Dresser Top edging

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Forum topic by Griffin_SC posted 05-30-2016 02:31 AM 1128 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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17 posts in 1003 days

05-30-2016 02:31 AM

I’m to a point in my dresser project that I need to build out the top. My current plan is for 3/4” Oak Ply and I will put a 1×3 oak board on it’s edge with a biscuit joiner on 3 sides. Not to concerned about the back I suppose. I’m planning to route a profile on the 1×3. First time I have tried this so I have a couple questions.

1) What’s the best way to deal with the thickness differences of the two pieces. The 1×3 is going to be slight thicker. Just sand it down to match? Or am I going to have to plane it down. I have a used older planer that was given to me, but I’ve never had to use it yet…..

2) Should I route the profile on the whole board 1st before cutting it and the miters for the top? Take in to consideration that I haven’t finished building my router table yet and I will be have to route it by hand on a 3” board.


8 replies so far

View MadMark's profile


979 posts in 1656 days

#1 posted 05-30-2016 03:12 AM

Plane before milling, cut into pieces after.


-- Madmark -

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1123 days

#2 posted 05-30-2016 05:31 PM


If the dresser is tall, the absence of edging on the back will rarely be noticed. If the dresser is lower so that top will be readily visible, absence of back edge banding will be noticed. Whether that alters your design for the top is a matter of design preference.

My approach would be to first glue the edging to the plywood as square un-milled stock, and then flush-up the edge banding. After flushing the edge banding, the profile can be easily routed.

I personally would avoid sending the plywood with edging glued in place through the thickness planer, if I understood your idea (and I am not sure this is what you meant). The two problems I see with using a thickness planner is the end banding will be parallel to the planer knives. The end banding could be damaged. The second problem is ensuring that the planner does not cut into the plywood veneer.

On the other hand, if your idea is to mill the edge banding to match the thickness of the plywood and then glue to the plywood, that could work. But you have to really be on your game when dressing down the thickness of the edge banding. Burning through the plywood veneer can easily occur when trying to flush up the joint if the edge banding is a little too thin. Unless you have a drum sander, I would use the thickness planer to dress down the thickness of the edge banding. I have difficulty maintaining perfectly parallel faces of stock when sanding with a hand-held sander or sanding by hand. When gluing, great care is required to ensure the surfaces remain perfectly flush all along the dresser top face. In spite of the biscuits, a lot of clamping cauls would probably be needed, but even at that I find getting perfectly flush glue seams is rare.

I can think of several alternative approaches for flushing-up the edge banding with the plywood after it is glued in place. The first approach is carefully willowing away the thickness of the edge banding with a hand plane, cabinet scrapers, and sand paper, being careful to avoid burning through the thin plywood veneer.

The second approach is to route the edge banding flush with a flush trim bit in the router. However, this method requires edge banding less than 2” wide, and at that a long flush trim bit. The dresser top is clamped vertically so that the edge of the banding is up. The router will be tippy when running down the length of ¾” thick edge banding. Therefore an auxiliary edge extension is helpful. It is clamped at each end of the dresser top so that the surface of the auxiliary edge extension is flush with the surface of the edge banding. Either routing a rabbet along the length of the auxiliary edge extension or clamping spacer blocks between the auxiliary edge extension and the plywood of the top will allow the top surface of the auxiliary edge extension to be aligned so that its edge is in the same plane as the edge banding. The auxiliary edge extension could be scrap hardwood or plywood wide enough so that downward deflection from the weight of the router in the center is minimized and enough surface exists for clamping.

The third approach is to use a straight bit in the router with the dresser top lying flat on the workbench. A ¼” thick auxiliary router base is attached to the router. The depth of cut is set by bringing the router bit down to just kiss the plywood surface with the router base setting entirely on the plywood surface of the dresser top. An edge guide is clamped to the plywood top and adjusted so that only the edge banding will be routed. If I were using this method, I would consider laying a piece of paper on the plywood and set the depth of cut to the surface of the paper. This would leave the edge banding proud of the surface of the plywood by the thickness of the paper. A cabinet scraper and/or hand sanding would finish the job.

Once the edge banding is flush, routing the profile on the edge banding would be straight forward with the router base resting on the surface of the dresser top. If the profile router bit is a large diameter bit like a table edge bit, a router table is the way to go. I suppose these large diameter edge forming bits could be used in a hand held router, but great care is required. Multiple passes with very light cuts will help keep the router under control with a large diameter bit. But if this is type of bit for making the profile, finishing the router table before edge profiling is probably the best answer.

Routing the edge profile in the edge banding before gluing to the plywood makes gluing the edge banding to the plywood more difficult (absence of square edges for the clamps). Also the profile could easily be damaged if too much clamping pressure is applied when attaching the edge banding. Lining up the profiles at the mitred corners would be more difficult. Also any sanding to reduce the thickness of the edge banding to flush up the glue seam at the plywood could alter the profile.

View JIMMIEM's profile


43 posts in 1044 days

#3 posted 05-30-2016 10:52 PM

A flush trim jig would be the best option to take care of a 3” wide edge. This would be done after the edge is applied. It’s a very simple jig to make. What is the profile that will be on the edge? The answer will determine whether to attach the edge board first.

View DalyArcher's profile


116 posts in 1322 days

#4 posted 05-30-2016 11:32 PM

I think the thickness difference in the edging is irrelevant. Lay the plywood top and the edging face down on a know, flat surface (tablesaw top). Forget about the biscuit joiner fence and reference the location of the biscuit off the flat base. With both the top and edging face down, the slot will be cut the same distance relative to the face. Once installed, the edging is flush to the top and the 1/8” proud of the bottom edge of the plywood it may be is not noticed.

I would rout after gluing it on to avoid damaging the profile while clamping.

View Griffin_SC's profile


17 posts in 1003 days

#5 posted 05-31-2016 01:53 PM

Thanks guys. I’m going to mull over a couple of the options.

A third option I’m considering it routing my profile on to some 1×2 then cutting it off in the table saw. It would be a lot easier to clamp and easier to bow a bit if the top face isn’t perfectly straight. It is 66” long 22” wide and 3/4” thick so can be a bit hard to keep it 100% straight along the fence. I may try and straight bit in the router with a straight edge, but my metal straight edge isn’t long enough to cover the whole length. Think it maxes out at 54”

I do like the idea of using the table saw for my biscuit joiner. That would make sure that the faces are really close to be even. I do have a 2” solid core door for a workbench and a long piece of 3/4 melamine that if I clamp together in several place should be really close to perfectly flat.

View JIMMIEM's profile


43 posts in 1044 days

#6 posted 05-31-2016 08:23 PM

Another way to get the plywood top and edge strip top to align flush is to clamp a flat board to the top of the plywood and let it overhang the edge of the plywood. This will ensure that the top edges are flush.

View Griffin_SC's profile


17 posts in 1003 days

#7 posted 06-07-2016 04:13 AM

What about using some Pocket screws on the underside to pull it together? They won’t be seen once the top is installed.

View rwe2156's profile


3171 posts in 1683 days

#8 posted 06-07-2016 12:07 PM

Please do NOT try to mill edging down to ply thickness before gluing on and do NOT try various techniques to fasten it flush. You will regret this because there is no room for error, even with biscuits.

If you want it perfectly flush, then mill it 1/16 over and glue up leaving edging intentionally proud 1/32 on each side. Biscuits are an option. Pocket screws are totally unnecessary.

Hand plane flush with plywood carefully to as to not get into veneer. I do not recommend sanding because there is too much risk of going through veneer. The hardwood edging is much harder than the plywood.

I’ve done it like this many times. Couple hints: Keep the rear of the plane on the plywood and slightly skewed to gradually bring the edging down to the ply. Have a razor sharp blade in the plane. Be patient and take very thin shavings. Remember with oak grain direction is extremely critical to avoid tearout when planing. Keep the grain direction the same for all sides so you can turn the corner with the plane.

Hope this helps.

I would do the profile last because if I don’t have to clamp a curved edge, I don’t.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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