Finishing Plywood Edges with Edge Banding

Submitted by Ana White on Tue, 11/19/2013 - 21:42

So let's talk shelves.

Specifically kitchen cabinet shelves, made of plywood.

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Step 1

How the heck do you make a plywood edge look like it's wood?

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Step 2 Instructions

Like this?

Well, it's pretty easy.

And quick.

And inexpensive.

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Step 3 Instructions

For the Momplex kitchen cabinets, we picked up Edge Banding in a matching wood veneer (to our plywood shelves) from our local hardware store.

It's about 1/8" or so thick, so we trimmed off 1/4" from all of our shelf fronts to give a little room for the edge banding, and then also some wiggle room for easily placing the shelves (we used adjustable shelves with shelf pins).

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Step 4 Instructions

First, we start at one edge, and hold it a little past the front edge of the shelf.

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Step 5 Instructions

The edge banding has a heat activated adhesive on the back. An iron works great to set the edge banding in place.

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Step 6 Instructions

With one edge set, we move to the other end, and cut it about 1" beyond the shelf.

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Step 7 Instructions

With the two ends cut, we can now focus on adhering the edge banding to the plywood edge with the iron.

The edge banding is about 7/8" so there's a little wiggle room when attaching it to 3/4" thick plywood. And if you get off - simply heat and reset. It is very forgiving stuff.

When we were happy with how the edge banding is set on the plywood, we took a smooth wood block, and started in the middle, and firmly pressed the edge banding into the plywood edge.

We let each shelf fully cool down before moving on to trimming the edge banding flush to the plywood sides.

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Step 8 Instructions

Once the edge banding is heat set and fully cooled, we use a utility knife to trim the ends flush,

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Step 9 Instructions

It cuts pretty easily with a sharp blade.

You can also use the utility knife to trim the sides (remember the edge banding is a little wider than the plywood, so it needs to be trimmed down),

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Step 10 Instructions

But we finally broke down and ordered the edge banding trimmer tool.

Nothing like having two kitchen to build on your to-do list to motivate you to invest in the little tools that save you hours and hours of work.

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Step 11

It works like this: Simply squeeze it together and run it along the edge banding, and it trims off any material beyond the plywood at the perfect angle.

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Step 12

It works in reverse, too.

Once the edge banding is trimmed off, it's can be a little sharp, and sharp isn't good. Not just because it might scratch you, but also because a sharp, rough edge is more likely to catch and peel off.

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Step 13

Nothing some sandpaper can't fix!

We started with a medium grit and finished with a fine grit.

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Step 14

Who knew getting a professional looking finished plywood edge could be so simple and easy?

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Step 15

The finished shelves can then just be placed in the cabinets, either fixed or as we did with shelf pins.  We also cut the shelves about 1/4" less in width than the cabinet interior to allow for shelf pins and easy shelf adjustment, but you should always figure your shelf length depending on how you place them in the cabinet.

Happy Building!



PS - for those blind corner cabinets, unless you have a mini helper, consider placing shelves inside the cabinets before installation.