33 – On the Edge

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I was working on a simple cabinet recently and I started thinking of all the different ways there are to cover the exposed edges of plywood. Veneer tape, solid edge banding, oversized edgebanding, and even joinery itself all do a fine job of hiding this unsightly side-effect of using plywood. And since plywood seems to enter our shops more frequently than not, it’s important to know how to deal with it. With a little know-how, you’ll be edging plywood like a pro in no time.

Category: Techniques


  1. Someone get that man a haircut!! Happy Holidays!!!

  2. Kirch November 25, 2007

    Another great video Marc, Thanks!

  3. Tim aka Mopardude November 25, 2007

    Andy — LOL

    Another excellent podcast! I think it should be noted that $40 piece of ply will do the job, if you are not to picky on plywood quality. If want a nice sheet, AA grade, that will match the nice wood edge better, your going to pay $80-$120 depending on species.

    I am not a big fan of the iron on tape for so many reasons but I won’t get into that, but if you have to my preferred method is to use a heat gun. In my experience most irons get hot enough to melt the glue enough so it will stick to the board but not always melt the glue fully if that makes any sense. Beware thought it is very easy to burn the edgebanding. Most of the time I use a putty knife as an iron and heat the back of it with with the gun.

  4. Jason (cfiiman) (http://) November 25, 2007

    Great vid Marc! Thanks for making it, I learned a lot, again! One question, how do you always match the edging to the ply, or do you??? I mean is that the goal, if you use birch ply you use birch banding I suppose right, but is there always a matching problem or is there some other trick I might be missing…Never done anything with ply, but really want to…Thanks again!



    Don’t diss the fuzz! lol

    In general Jason, its best to match the species. Sometimes you can get away with mixing things like maple and birch depending on what they actually look like. And obviously sometimes you can mix things up like I mentioned at the end. There have been many times that i use accent woods for edgebanding. It looks fantastic.

  6. Marianne (http://) November 26, 2007

    Am I the only one who has problems with the high res version? I’ve tried playing it in both VLC and Quicktime – the audio is fine but the video is “non-moving”.

  7. Mark (http://) November 26, 2007

    Booooo… No bloopers!

  8. Roger November 26, 2007

    Another excellent video! One problem that I have is finding a source of hardwood (cherry, maple, etc) plywood. The big box stores don’t carry it and my hardwood dealer doesn’t stock plywood. I found lumber yard that will special order, but I hate to buy something sight unseen. I guess there could be serious defect in the plywood. Any suggestions on finding a good source?


    Marianne- That sounds weird. The only thing different about the large file is its a larger size and its encoded with H.264. I would make sure you have the most recent versions of Quicktime and VLC and see if that fixes the issue. Does this happen on all of the large format videos I post or just this one?

    Roger- Let your fingers do the walking, my friend. Pick up the yellow pages and look for hardwood dealers. Start making calls and dont just ask if they sell ply, ask if they know who does. Most reasonable people will direct you where you need to go. In most regions, you should not have to special order standard domestic species ply. Good luck.

  10. Kip from Nothern Illinois November 26, 2007

    Marc, I really needed an intro to edge banding. It was great thank you so much for another great video.

    I’ve been using solid wood for years and avoided plywood partly for the avaibility
    circumstance Roger mentioned above. I still think buying domestic hardwood from a local saw mill and re-saw when appropriate is more economical than $40 to $120 plywood. You ultimately end up spending time and materials to cover edges for. Have you done any calculations. A 4×8 sheet represents 32 sq. ft. times $5.00 on av. a board foot is $160 hardwood. How much time and money is spent on average for 32 sq. ft. of plywood taping gluing, and trimming? When you consider the quality gained with a solid wood design I am not sure we justify the extra time and expense plywood represents. I would appriciate some knowledge and your wisdom on this subject. I understand plywood is more stable than a solid design. It seems to me the proper wood movement considerations in the solid design negates that issue. If my thinking is way off here, please straighten me out.

    Your the Man Marc keep it Going.

  11. Marianne November 26, 2007

    ahh – problem in my end, nothing wrong with the file. Thanks for a great video

  12. spencer November 26, 2007

    Marc, is that an Incra tablesaw fence I see on the bench behind you? lol

    Does that mean you made up your mind about it? Let us know your thoughts on it, we’d all be interested.

  13. Jeff November 26, 2007

    great tape tip…I just finished a small cabinet and had trouble with a dark stain not covering my filler…. the tape will do the trick.

  14. Mattias in Durham, NC November 26, 2007

    Marc, thanks for providing so many viewing options. I was wondering if you could also include the link to view the video directly on blip.tv when you post? Looks like for whatever reason the web-based player gets higher resolution there, and it’s neat to be able to view full screen. And next time you see Norm, tell him about blip.tv. Sure beats having to remember when to turn on the TV.

    Anyway, thanks for another great episode. I had already bought an iron off of eBay to use for edgebanding but have not gotten to use it yet…

  15. I have done a lot of edge banding in my time and i can say that this video covers it all! Nicely done!

    Another treatment in edition to the solid wood. Would be solid wood banding with dowels drilled into them. It looks great and adds a contrasting wood too.
    THe best type of glue to edge banding (no iron on) is regular yellow glue with short open time. That way the glue cures faster and allows more assembly of parts!!!…

    Great work everyone!

  16. Derrel (http://) November 26, 2007

    Great video… Just a note… I just did some edge banding two days before this video… It did great but your video helps immensely!!!

    I tried a new method… I recently went to a local woodworkers club meeting and there was a program on veneers… The speaker use Titebond glue to make his own iron on veneer on either self cut or purchased veneers… Just apply the Titebond on both the veneer and the surface that you apply it to.. (not required but gives a tighter bond) and let dry… (It took mine just about an hour..) Then apply just like an other iron on veneer… It works!!! And if you screw up just reheat and adjust it… When it cools it is just like any iron on veneer… I was sceptical but it worked great… Try it… It will surprise you as easy it is..

  17. Conrad November 26, 2007

    Another stellar video Marc! The wood whisperer is by far one of the best if not the best podcast on the net. I have one suggestion….I would love to see you do a good project from start to finish ( a series of vids), I hope you do one od those in the near future?

    Thanks for the great work!


  18. Vic November 26, 2007

    Kip, I know I’m just a tree hugger, but, there are several reasons you might want to use a “man made” material over solid wood. Movement being one, you can use the fore mentioned edge-banding techniques on any man made substrate. If you want a highly figured( burl or curly for instance) table top and, like me, can’t afford the solid lumber or just feel bad for not being an efficient steward of our diminishing resources, you could buy a high quality veneer and have a beyond beautiful top for a fraction of what it would cost as solid lumber. I’m not trying to pontificate, just giving the economics of the situation with my environmentalist bent. No matter how you approach woodworking, if you are creating heirloom quality pieces you are not wasting resources.


    I’ll do ya one better mattias! Check out the new player on the front page.

    Thanks everyone for all the kind words. And thanks for all the extra tips you guys are bringing to the table. The comments on these posts are as valuable as the video itself!


    And yes Spencer. Your eyes saw correctly. lol. There were a few reasons I went back to the Powermatic fence. The most critical of which was the limited rip capacity. Unfortunately, it was much more of a hindrance that I anticipated. The way it locked down was not completely satisfying either. I was never quite 100% confident that it was locking perfectly parallel every time. That is NOT a feeling one should get from a fence system that is in that price range. Could have just been me, but after two weeks of using it I was ready to go back.


    Hey Kip. Seems I missed your post earlier. Aside from Vic’s insights, which I do agree with, I will address some of the points you brought up. I have done some cost comparisons in the past and it really does depend on the wood. Some woods are cheap but the plywood version is expensive. And in some cases, the solid wood is average priced and the ply is dirt cheap. You’ll find lots of variations. Bottom line is it depends on the wood being used and the grade you buy.
    You bring up some good points about the potential time savings. But think of it this way. Edging ply does take a little time. But you will spend equal time and usually much more jointing, planing, gluing up, and then flattening your boards. So on a time basis, plywood wins in my opinion.
    You mentioned gaining quality with solid wood as well. I guess that’s really a subjective call. I don’t consider something a higher quality just because its made from solid wood. And in fact, being made of solid wood can create issues over time. There are just some jobs that plywood is better at. And although solid wood movement can be planned for, you can’t plan for everything. Sometimes wood seems to have a mind of its own. Good quality plywood just behaves more predictably.
    So please don’t mistake this as an anti-solid wood response. lol. Quite the contrary. Im just playing “Devil’s Advocate” in response to your valid concerns. But when it comes to economics and efficiency, I truly think plywood wins the battle.

  22. HermanV November 27, 2007

    A little 3 in 1 oil will cure that sqeek lickitty split thier Marc. I was holding my ears there for a bit, sorta like the fingers on the chalk board!

    Thanks for the excellent podcast once again!

  23. Mattias in Durham, NC November 27, 2007

    Marc, With the risk of turning into “Video Bob” in this essay (http://www.popularwoodworking......e?id=14857): Sweet!

  24. mdhills November 27, 2007

    Marc, do you make any adjustments in your trimming/smoothing/sanding technique if applying banding perpendicular to the plywood veneer’s grain? (in my experience, this has been the hard part, as it is very easy to tear or scratch this, especially with oak plywood)


  25. BarryO November 27, 2007

    One thing about getting proper clamping pressure on edge banding – I find it’s rare that I only need to edge-band one piece of plywood. So I do two at a time, and clamp them back-to-back; i.e., with the two bands touching each other in the middle, with the two pieces of plywood on the outside. This way, when you clamp across both pieces of plywood, not only do you do two pieces at once, but you get even clamping pressure on the edge banding with relatively few clamps.

  26. Marc,

    Loved the episode! The hair… well… I loved the episode! I have some small projects done in ply, and I’ve always used the ‘substantial’ hardwood option you’ve done. Going to try some edge banding on some cheap shop cabinets that I’m making soon.

    My question is, if you’re going to edge band, AND veneer, which do you do first?

  27. Mike November 29, 2007

    http://www.woodfinder.com is a decent search engine to find out who stocks what kind of wood – as well as sheet goods – in your area.


    Hey Matt. When I am working on the edge that is perpendicular to the grain I dotn really change my methods for the bulk removal. But once I get down close, you do have to be concerned about grain direction. If sanding by hand, I will sand with the grain of the board to ensure a nice finish. Usually the trim is small enough that a little cross grain sanding doesn’t really hurt it. But its still a good idea to lightly sand with the grain of the trim if you have a substantial trim piece.

    Jonathan- Good question. Actually, in terms on strength and longevity, it doesn’t really matter. I believe it really comes down to personal taste and what kind of look you are going for. Veneering first is probably what most of us are used to seeing (the look of edged plywood). So a board thats been edged first and veneered second give a very smooth and continuous look that may be perfect for some applications.

    If you do decide to veneer after edging, make sure you apply a piece of edging that is a little thicker than you actually want. After veneering, you will want to have the opportunity to give each edge a nice trim for a good clean edge.

  29. Edwin Chavez (http://) January 6, 2008

    (Hope it’s not too late to get a response… I am watching them all in order)
    Loved the video! I noticed you never used or mentioned a router or laminate trimmer… Any reason why? I’m fairly new at this and I assumed that small routers or laminate trimmers with flush trim bits were the preferred method. Any insight would be much appreciated!


    Hi Edwin. Never too late for a response. :)

    I generally dont use those methods because I find the a little clunky. Just about any time I have used a router I have gouged my work. So for me, its just easier to take a few swipes with a hand plane. Now a good laminate trimmer is certainly an option. But again, you have to be careful not to make an occasional ding.

    So it was not meant to discourage people from using those methods, I just don’t use them much.

  31. Ian Brown (http://) February 11, 2008

    Marc – thanks for the overview on edge banding. My question is this – I’ve got curved edges on the desk that I am designing and want to use home cut strips to edge the plywood that makes up the desk surface. What is the best way to bend these strips to fit the contour of the rounded edges?

    My alternative is to edge the plywood with thicker (2″) pieces of black walnut and use a matched profile set of router bits and custom-cut pieces. Do you have any thoughts/experience on that approach?


    Hey Ian. If the curve isnt tight, you can usually bend thin strips of wood right around the curve. If it starts getting tight, consider cutting several thinner strips and sandwiching them with glue around the curve. Kind of like a mini bent lamination.

    As for your second idea, I have never really tried that before. Personally, I would try the first option first. I think the final result will look better and more consistent.

    good luck.

  33. Jim Crockett March 16, 2008

    Marc, I just watched your ‘On the Edge” video podcast for the second time and gained even more information. One method that I have read about but have never tried is to cut a strip of the plywood you are using, trim the veneer on the table saw, then glue it on to the project. Ever tried this and, if so, how well did it work?



    Hey Jim. I suppose if you could get the final cut thin enough, it might work. But that sounds like an excessive amount of work for something I can buy on a roll (pre-glued) for $20. But if you are on a tight budget and you want to get the most out of your materials, I suppose it could be done. But again, getting the tablesaw setup to cut those super thin pieces would be tricky.

  35. EllenL April 22, 2008

    Thanks for a great instructional video. I have several bathrooms with “builders” cabinets (you get the point) and the edge banding has yellowed and looks really junky. I was able to remove the old banding with the iron and did a moderately decent job of replacing it with new (white) banding using a practice roll. I have three questions now: 1) can you recommend a good quality brand of melamine edge banding that will not yellow over time?
    2) the old glue tends to make a little bit of a mess with the new edgeband. Should I try to clean it off before gluing on the new piece or just work really carefully and clean the excess after the new piece is affixed?
    3) my corners simply do not have the nice mitered look of the original banding. Is there any way to get the mitered neat corner?
    Thanks for keeping craftmanship alive!


    Hey El. 1- I can’t really recommend a brand since I get mine from a local hardwood supplier. I think they may even make their own. But I imagine the supplier make a big difference in quality. I would check your local hardwood supplier to see if they have it. If they sell to cabinet shops in the area, they will most likely have some decent quality edge-banding.
    2-I would try to clean as much of the old glue up as possible. Either scrape it off or use some goof off or acetone to remove the stubborn stuff.
    3- So the corners are mitered on the original piece. That’s interesting. I would honestly not worry about the miters and just do butt joints. Its much easier and won’t make a whole lot of difference in the look of the final piece. But if you do make miters. I would make a simple jig that allows me to cut perfect 45 degree corners. And when attaching them to the cabinet, start at the corners. Make sure the corner joint looks good and is dry before you proceed down the line.

    Hope that helps.

  37. Jason November 23, 2009

    Hi Marc,
    I’m new to woodworking so slowly going through your videos. With a iron on banding can you do you have to use a certain type of finish or do you finish it like everything else?

      thewoodwhisperer November 23, 2009

      Hey Jason. I treat it the same as anything else.

  38. Romain June 29, 2010

    Hi everybody !
    In first, please apologize me for my english ! (I’m french).
    Where can I find the red clamps that Marc using to glue the solid wood ?
    Thanks a lot

  39. Tony H. November 29, 2010

    It’s the simplest thing, but I feel really dumb for not thinking about nailing and filling through masking tape.

    I’m always fussing over cleaning putty from the surface of my workpiece after filling nail holes.

    Thanks for this.

  40. Ennio February 8, 2011

    Come fare per rivestire i quattro lati di legno compensato con listelli spessi di legno massello ?
    Grazie per la risposta che mi vorrai dare !

    Ti ho scoperto per caso su internet e adesso non ti mollo pi


      I had to use a translator to figure out what your question was, so hopefully I am answering it correctly. When doing thick edge-banding, I would use glue and biscuits. Dowels or dominos would work as well. I just like having a little extra reinforcement.

  41. Steve eh December 22, 2011

    a question about edge banding a curve…i am building a toy box with “arms” on it they are about a 6.5″ curve.. i wanted to use plywood for the arms and edge band them to make a nice smooth surface,,,any suggestions.
    my original design that i built was hardwood…but now i need to build 5-6 more and ply will be more economical



      Hey Steve. If you make the wood strip thin enough, you should have no problems. Even 1/8″ should be able to take that curve. You might want to make a “negative” of the curve to aid in clamping though. I would just make a few strips of edging material and keep thinning them down and testing to see how thin it needs to be.

  42. Jeremy January 31, 2012

    Hi Marc,
    How about using thick solid edge banding for a cabinet with multiple drawers and cabinet doors (all in one enclosure). This will give several intersecting joints similar to the example you gave with the iron on edge banding. Would you join all the pieces together first to create a single face frame structure (it may be hard to get everything perfect) or attach them one at a time using glue and clamps? Or maybe attach the edge banding to each piece of plywood prior to assembling the cabinet? I am building a buffet table and I am not sure how to handle this aspect. Hopefully this makes sense.


      I would try to attach as much edge banding as possible before the final assembly. Much easier to flush everything up and prepare the surfaces. Now if you have an actual face-frame with substantial overhangs, then it might make more sense to assemble the face frame as a separate unit and then attach it to the carcass.

      • Jeremy February 2, 2012

        This project will not have any overhangs at all. All of the thick solid edge banding will be the the same thickness of the plywood. By putting the edge banding on before assembly, that will mean that the dados and rabbets that get cut will also go through the edge banding. Do you see any issue wtih that?

  43. Jeremy February 3, 2012

    I see 2 options here (both entail putting the edge banding on before assembly and each have their own trade-offs):

    1) Attach thick edge banding to each piece of plywood and flush it to the thickness of the plywood, then cut rabbets and dados through the plywood and edge banding. This will show the joints (dados/rabbets) on the front, but everything (plywood and edge banding) would be cut to exactly the correct size and should go together easily at that point with no gaps and no further processing steps/chances to introduce error.

    2) Cut rabbets and dados in each piece of plywood, then attach thick edge banding and flush the edge banding to the thickness of the plywood. By cutting the dados/rabbets first, I can avoid the stopped dados and rabbbets with the same result. The issue with this approach (regardless of whether stopped dados/rabbets are used) is that some of the edge banding will no be the correct length. It will be too long on some of the pieces where the dados/rabbets fit together. Some of the edge banding would need to be trimmed to the correct length (after being attached) where there are dados/rabbets. Although the front would look cleaner here (in theory), I am concerned about trimming it to the exact length needed to avoid gaps. If I trim the pieces a little too short, I end up with a gap, if I leave them a little too long, I won’t have gaps, but it will knock the case out of square.

    Any thoughts/opinions/guidance? How would you handle this?


      Both options are perfectly viable. It really comes down to what you’re comfortable doing. If you aren’t sure you’ll be able to get good results with option 2, which I think is the better option in terms of appearance, then just go with option 1. But if you are up for the challenge, I think option 2 will give you the most attractive joints.

  44. Jeremy February 4, 2012

    Thank you very much for the help Marc. One final question: The edge banding will be glued to the plywood, using biscuits for alignment. Would you also attempt to glue the pieces of edge banding to each other during final assembly? This would be where there are dados/rabbets which would be a long grain to end grain joint (probably not adding much strength, but maybe the glue would help to fill tiny gaps?…)

    Thanks again for tolerating me while I beat this dead horse :-)


      I really wouldn’t count on it filling gaps. And if it did, it wouldn’t look very good. But if the joint is tight you can certainly put a little layer of glue there. Probably won’t make a whole lot of structural difference but you can do it.

  45. Jeff June 30, 2012

    Hey Marc,
    Love ur podcasts. Im watching them in order so I hope its not to late to ask. Will staining the edge-banding result in a different shade than the rest of the piece ?


      Depends on the species, the stain, and the type of edge-banding. But in many cases, yes there could be a color difference. One way to combat this is to put down a lighter coat of dye prior to staining, to try to bring the piece into the same color family. The base coat of color provides a more even backdrop on which to apply your final stain. But honestly, many times the color difference isn’t dramatice enough to worry about. Just have to experiment on scrap and see what you’re up against.

  46. Jennifer March 23, 2013

    thanks for the video. you make it look so easy. I would like to put veneer on my kitchen cabinet doors but the the have rounded edges. I’m wondering if I could cut off the edges and then add the edge banding like you showed here in your video. I will lose about 1/2″ if I were to cut off the edges. Does this sound crazy?

  47. Matt May 1, 2013

    Hi, thanks for the video! I’m working on a project that has some pretty tight radius curves that need to be edged. Are there any tips to doing this? I’m using iron-on walnut veneer tape, and the wood keeps on cracking when I try to wrap the tape around the curve.



  48. Kurt August 28, 2013


    When using the 1/8 solid wood edging how do you address the corners? Do you attempt to miter them or just butt them?


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