Finishing edges of plywood

Primary tabs

Help us get rid of spam!

Hey there!  Ana here.  If you got a second and see a comment that you suspect is spam, please click the "This Comment is Spam" text at the bottom of the comment.  Sure appreciate the help! 

20 posts / 0 new
Last post
kristen's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-09-06 18:59
Finishing edges of plywood
PDF versionPDF version

Forgive me if this has already been asked, but I didn't see it in a quick search...I am planning my next project which has doors with rails and stiles.  The plan calls for 3/8" plywood for those, but how do you make the edges nice?  I know there is edge banding for the 3/4" plywood, but I haven't seen it in 3/8" and it seems like a small edge for that.  The project will be painted after I'm done, so no stain to worry about.

 

I've seen suggestions on the web about using wood filler on the cut edge and then sanding it.  Has anyone done this?  Does it turn out ok? I've thought about buying hobby board instead, but I need a sheet of 3/8" plywood for the back anyway, so I'd like to use the extra for the rails and stiles. 

 

Thanks for any help.  This community has been a great resource for this beginner.

Tsu Dho Nimh's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-09-05 20:30

Which plan? 

It is possible that the edges are hidden by other wood.

kristen's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-09-06 18:59

It's the PB Logan knock off--Ana calls it the Classic Storage Wall Base, 24" with doors.  The 3/4" plywood has a frame of "real" wood, so that is covered, but she calls for 3/8" plywood here:

 

I) 2 – 3/8″ Plywood or MDF @ 10 1/4″ x 25″ (Backs of Doors)

J) 4 – 3/8″ Plywood or MDF @ 1 1/2″ x 10 1/4″ (Rails on the Doors)

K) 4 – 3/8″ Plywood or MDF @ 1 1/2″ x 22″ (Stiles on the Doors)

pinktoesandpowertools.com

tnslb's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-09-09 11:23

I'm curious as well...doing wood filler seems like it could be a total biotch, if the exposed area is going to be large :(  I'm making 2 of the kids storage chairs for DS, and was planning on using plywood for the seat (I needed some plywood for another project, and had Orange cut a strip 11.5 inches wide for some of the plans that use those crazy Alaskan 1x12s ;)  Easier than rejigging all the measurements, sometimes), so the edges would for sure be exposed.  I'm painting, not staining, so that's one plus.

Dan K's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-11-19 04:06

Edge banding can be trimmed easily with an inexpensive tool.  Just let it hang off on both sides and trim it to fit.

lostandconfused's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-10-05 22:09

Kristen - you'll be fine with the 3/4" edgebanding on the outer edges of the doors - in fact you'll need it to be that big.

Although the rails/stiles are 3/8", they are attached to the door - also 3/8" - giving 3/4" as the total thickness. You'll still need to edgeband the inner edges of the doors (on the face - those are just 3/8"), but as Dan K says, you can trim off the excess with a (really) sharp blade.

Just a word of caution... my own experience with edgebanding the Bedford desk (two bases) was horribly fiddly and didn't give great results. It looks OK, but for the time it took, plus the fiddly trimming in awkward spots, I wouldn't do it again. Solid wood would be the way forward. I used the flush trim bit in my router to speed things up, but it really didn't help all that much.

Having said that, the Logan plan looks easier to band - so YMMV!

kristen's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-09-06 18:59

I think I might try out some edgebanding on some scrap to see what happens...but now I have another question--this will obviously be my first time using this.  Do I need to account for its thickness wherever I apply it, or do you find that it doesn't affect the board widths too much?  For example, it will be on the shelf fronts, so do I need to have orange/blue cut the shelves 1/8" thinner to account for the 1/8" of edgebanding?  It will affect the door dimensions also--the obvious answer to this would be yes, but I haven't read anything that warns about the 1/8", so for my peace of mind I need to ask...

pinktoesandpowertools.com

lostandconfused's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-10-05 22:09

The thickness might be a problem... depending on how picky you are! The wood part of standard edgebanding is pretty thin, and although it's backed with paper and glue, it's probably still not more than 1/16" (my Canadian HD only sells one kind - CEDAN brand - but being in the States you might have a better selection). Here, you can get thicker stuff from speciality stores only.

If it's the same stuff, you probably won't notice the difference too much, assuming your door is not exactly the size of your opening to begin with (needs a gap around the edges - Ana's plan has an opening of 21"w, and the doors add up to 20 1/2"w, so 1/8" gap on the sides, 1/4" gap in the middle).

Best to go and check your edgebanding to see how thick it is!

kristen's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-09-06 18:59

Thanks--good advice.  I'm anxious to dive into the next project, but looks like I'll need to do some research first so I know the cut sizes for some of the pieces.  Unfortunately, I am picky--if it doesn't look as good as I think it could, it will bug me forever!

pinktoesandpowertools.com

orangesugar's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-08-31 19:22

If you don't want to use edge banding or wood filler you can always create a 3/4" x 3/4" piece of wood in the length that you need and brad nail it. Or use a Kreg Jig to attach it. I know there are also router bits to help you do this, I think you would use a tongue and groove bit, but I'm not an expert so don't quote me on that.

orangesugar's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-08-31 19:22

Something like this.

 

kristen's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-09-06 18:59

Hmmm, that is interesting.  I'm going to have to go back to the plans and see if that will work easily.  I still haven't had a chance to fiddle around with the edgebanding to see what I think and how much it will change dimensions of cuts, if at all, but I like the idea of this.  I have a router that was a hand-me-down that I have not tried out, but I think that even brad nailing it with straight, flush edges would work for the areas I need edged.  Thanks for the suggestion!

pinktoesandpowertools.com

nickybecky1's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-09-20 13:56

Kristen,

When I made the Large Media Base for the Logan collection, I edge banded the doors. I used the banding that already has adhesive on it, that you simply iron-on. I had had some trouble with previous edge-banding, but this time, I picked up a little cutter MADE for edge-banding (at Lowe's for cheap) and after practicing with it some, it was TOTALLY worth it. It turned out fabulous. My experience with edge-banding has been that you need patience, and that it's good to wait a day or two to make sure it really stuck. Sometimes, I found that there were parts that were starting to pull away, but I just re-ironed them on really well before trimming it. Then let it be completely cool and completely hardened onto the plywood before using the trimmer. I just used the edging on the 3 exposed sides of the doors and left the edge which would have hinges plain (but still stained it). Good luck!

kristen's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-09-06 18:59

Thanks nickybecky!  I think that if I go the edgebanding route I am definitely going to pick up the cutter tool.  Did you have to modify dimensions to account for the edgebanding at all on your project?  That is what is worrying me since I need to have orange cut it and it won't be easy to modify cuts once I'm home.  I know you build out of an apartment, so I'm thinking you don't have a table saw in the dining room to modify your plywood eitherSmile. But maybe you modified dimensions before the cuts were made to account for the edgebanding thickness?

pinktoesandpowertools.com

nickybecky1's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-09-20 13:56

Kristen, 

You're absolutely right! No table saw! I didn't account for the difference in edge banding - the only real place where it came up at all was the front of the middle supports on the media center, which are visible only when the door is open. I wish I had done the edge banding before assembling those parts. The doors need to be a bit smaller than the opening anyway to fit - I made adjustments in the opening by how I attached the hinges. But it seems like for the base and hutch you were talking about, it would really only affect the doors and shelves. The doors will be fine, and my shelves were just fine too. It didn't occur to me to adjust ahead of time (this was my first project) and it all turned out great. Hope this helps!

kristen's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-09-06 18:59

That was definitely helpful--I didn't want to have to think about tiny little adjustments for all the edgebanding and it helps A LOT to know you completed your project going by the plan's dimensions while using the edgebanding.  I'm relieved--and feeling more confident about going forward with this. 

 

Thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions!

pinktoesandpowertools.com

bobgaivin's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-12-02 20:28

When I made a computer desk from a sheet of 3/4" pine plywood I used 3/4" wide wood strips from the screen door section of HD.

It comes in real long strips about 5/16 thick. Its used to nail down screens on home-made screen doors and screened-in porch windows.

kristen's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-09-06 18:59

Thanks Bob--that is a good idea and wouldn't require the router in orangesugar's suggestion.  I'll have to check that out next time I'm at the store.

 

If anyone else is following this, another suggestion I ran across lately was to use a Kreg Jig to attach 1x2s to the exposed edges of the plywood, forming a panel of plywood and 1x2s.  Obviously the back side of this shows, so you would have to fill the pocket holes with the peg things that Kreg sells (or use wooden dowel pieces).  Bob's idea would eliminate that finish work.

 

Still not sure what I'm going to end up doing.  The project got derailed when I discovered I'm going to have to learn how to cut my own plywood.  This part may push me to learn to use a router! I'd like to eventually end up making doors like this:

http://www.sawdustandpaperscra.....doors.html

pinktoesandpowertools.com

claydowling's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011-01-26 17:28

A good trick I found for filling pocket screw holes is to use a regular dowel and cut it off with a flush-cut saw. The kreg filler dowels are slightly expensive and a little hard to lay hands on, but you can always pick up a dowel.  There are two tools you'll need that you might not have, but are worth the fairly small investment, because you'll find you use them everywhere.

  1. A Japanese pull saw.  I prefer the kind called a ryoba. It has teeth on the top and bottom, for cutting with the grain (the big teeth) and across the grain (the small teeth). I bought one at harbor freight for $20, and I use it everywhere, from building my deck to cutting trim for furniture. These saws have thin flexible blades that cut when you pull them (most saws cut when you push, even your power saws). It makes them easier to use and very accurate. If you buy one hand saw in your life, this is the one to buy.
  2. A flush cut saw. I bought an inexpensive one years ago at a big box store and it worked okay. I bought a nicer Japanese flush-cut saw more recently (http://www.leevalley.com/US/wo.....at=1,42884) that is even nicer. One pull of the saw and it cuts the dowel off. But you can use the cheaper saw from the big box store without any problem. Be careful with flush cut saws though. It's not that common to cut yourself with a hand saw, but I've sliced myself a couple of times with flush cut saws.

Filling the holes is easy:

  1. Cut a length of dowel of the saw diameter as your hole, and just a millimeter or more longer than the hole.
  2. Lightly sharpen one end with a knife or pencil sharpener, just enough to take the squareness of the edge down. One turn of a pencil sharpener is sufficient. I've used the little hand-held metal kind for years, and dragged it out to the shop right after I discovered pocket holes.
  3. Put a very small dab of glue on the bottom of the hole.
  4. Slide the dowel into the hole, sharpened end first.
  5. Let the glue dry. If you used a very tiny amount of glue, this will be less than a minute.
  6. Use the flush-cut saw to cut the dowel off at the surface.  Start cutting at the end opposite the screw and the dowel will guide the saw.

You can put a bunch of plugs in before you do the cutoffs, so that you are sure your glue is dry.

kristen's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-09-06 18:59

Clay--thank you for the information on the saws and filling with the dowels.  I really appreciate the specific and detailed help.  I'm going to save this for future reference!

pinktoesandpowertools.com