Advice needed - Attaching hardwood to plywood edges

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Forum topic by MT_Stringer posted 05-13-2012 09:48 PM 2440 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3183 posts in 3409 days

05-13-2012 09:48 PM

I am in the planning stage of building a teacher’s podium for my niece as a college graduation present. I want to make the sides and front out of either maple or Baltic Birch or maybe even Red Oak. That decision hasn’t been made as of yet.

My question is how do I attach a piece of the hardwood to the edge of the plywood. Say about 2 1/2” edge to run down each side, across the top and bottom of each panel. It will look like a flat panel when finished with the hardwood edge all around it. I decided not to use the glue on veneer edge banding because I want it to last a long time and not have to deal with it coming undone from use.

My thoughts at the moment are to use tongue and groove (via router table) to mate the plywood to the hardwood. I am hoping to build something she can use for her entire career…and then some.

Tools I have available include table saw, 2 routers, thickness planer and other stuff like belt sander, and drill press.

Note: I tried searching You Tube for videos but not sure what to use for search words. :-(

So tongue and groove or what?
Thanks in advance.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

11 replies so far

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2470 days

#1 posted 05-13-2012 10:02 PM

Biscuits have worked well for me. I use a divided fence on my router table (with the infeed side gapped at the bottom for proud hardwood) and a 3/4” flush trim bit to finish the hardwood even with the plywood.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3826 days

#2 posted 05-13-2012 10:03 PM

Clamp with cauls and flush trim after the glue dries.

Tongue and groove is not needed for durability but
if you want to go to the trouble of doing it there’s
no harm in doing it that way. If the edging is over
3/4” wide or so you can use biscuits for alignment.

Mostly when this type of edging breaks off it’s because
not enough glue was used, it was exposed to a lot
of moisture or wood movement was ignored.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3028 days

#3 posted 05-13-2012 10:11 PM

Another approach with the same result is to use thicker hardwood and cut a dado two sides. The plywood slips in, glued, and you can reinforce it any number of ways inside.

If you take this route, you could use thinner material, say two pieces of 5.2mm (quarter inch) glued together which will make the whole thing much lighter. The edges of the veneer will be trapped inside and the corner pieces will be niftily and stylishly proud.

You have given a lot of thought to the durability of the piece on the corners and I suspect you are planning something equally wise for the bottom regions. The bottom takes a lot of hits from shoes, mops, vacuums and the like.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View bullhead1's profile


228 posts in 2427 days

#4 posted 05-13-2012 10:30 PM

If the back side is hidden you can pocket screw the edges on. I’ve done this when making wooden tops for cabinets.

View oluf's profile


260 posts in 3217 days

#5 posted 05-13-2012 11:09 PM

I like half laps for this. They are very strong with lots of glue surface. Put the ends on first and half lap the front and back over the ends.

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3247 days

#6 posted 05-13-2012 11:15 PM

If you’re wanting the hardwood band to be flush with the plywood panel, you’re in for a challenging bit of work.

When you do your glue up, make sure that the hardwood is perfectly flush with the ply – or ever so slightly proud. When you sand, take it easy and stop as soon as the hardwood and ply are flush.

If your hardwood is below the ply surface you’ll probably sand thru the ply veneer trying to get it flush with the hardwood. Sand thru’s are VERY difficult to disguise.

If I were building your project, I would make three frame and panel sections and avoid the hassle.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3409 days

#7 posted 05-13-2012 11:57 PM

A lot of good advice and suggestions. I see now I have some more thinking to do. Appreciate the feedback. Keep it coming.

I forgot I have a biscuit cutter, just haven’t used it yet.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Fuzzy's profile


298 posts in 4166 days

#8 posted 05-14-2012 12:10 AM

Take a good look at this …

It is dead simple to set up, and yields perfectly flush & aligned surfaces first time, every time using only glue for assembly.

-- - dabbling in sarcasm is foolish … if you’re not proficient at it, you end up looking stupid … ... ...

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3287 days

#9 posted 05-14-2012 12:12 AM

Depending on how often you plan on adding hardwood edging, MCLS has a neat bit set that I like for this. Again, dependent on the justification of cost, but this is one way of giving it a sturdier fit. If you go this route, use small sections of ply to test the bit height and when you are satisfied, save two pieces to keep in your shop. You can run a piece for both bits and use them for quicker setup in the future by lining up the opposite pieces against the bit on your router table.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View HamS's profile


1829 posts in 2567 days

#10 posted 05-14-2012 12:30 AM

If the backs of the panels are hidden then use a rabbet cut in the hardwood and use 1/4” ply. It will be much lighter, cheaper, and just as effective. If you are using 1/2or thicker plywood then biscuits are the way to go. it is important that your edges are dead straight to get a good joint. you also have to be careful that the figure in the grain of your hardwood sticks are not too different than what is in the plywood. It can be very different and very noticeable. I made that mistake on the base amp cabinet I built. Notice how obvious the plywood joint is.

-- Haming it up in the 'bash.

View Fuzzy's profile


298 posts in 4166 days

#11 posted 05-14-2012 12:41 AM

The big advantage to the Sommerfeld set (and others like it) is that it is not dedicated to just application of edging … it is also for cabinet making and installing face frames to align perfectly every time without any need for setup blocks or any measurements of any kind. Just drop in one bit … adjust by eye to an offset position … make the cut(s) ... swap bits (they are precision ground for alignment) ... make the matching cuts … assemble.

Because they are self aligning, you can swap back and forth as needed, without any need to adjust the alignment.

If you watch his entire video, it becomes much more apparent. It is a very fast, easy, and accurate system for perfect alignment and easy construction with absolutely ZERO need for measuring or trial & error setups.

-- - dabbling in sarcasm is foolish … if you’re not proficient at it, you end up looking stupid … ... ...

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