Edge banding, especially in commercial environments, is done using the edgebander, which applies a hot-melt adhesive to the board's edge. This hot melt glue is a form of thermoplastic adhesive that firmly attaches the edging strips in place.
An edge bander is a machine used to create decorative edges on panels and boards automatically. The machine cuts the wood's edge and then uses adhesive to attach colorful edge strips or other materials.
It can also be used for decorative purposes, such as making patterns with cut pieces of wood or different types of metal.
The edge bander machine is handy when working in bulk and/or when repeating multiple patterns in one furniture piece. It is mainly used to reinforce the edges of plywood panels, particle boards, or MDF, making it more durable and less susceptible to damage.
What Is Edge Banding?
Edge banding is the term used to describe the process in which the edges of wood furniture are reinforced or covered by applying a band of edging tapes (thin strips) to the surface.
Simply put, edge banding solves the problem of unattractive and raw edges on furniture. It also reduces the effects of liquid spills, atmospheric humidity, and moisture in general. This helps protect the wooden panels in your furniture from getting destroyed.
How Does An Edge Banding Machine Work?
Most edge bander machines work by feeding an edge stipping through a machine until it is tight against the processed particle board. Then a roller or hot air gun applies heat to activate the glue and hold the strip in place. A clamp then presses and holds the banding firmly against the board's edge as it moves through a roller press for several seconds to ensure that there is sufficient glue on all parts of the banding material.
A second roller or hot air gun applies more heat which melts any remaining adhesive, allowing you to cut off any excess banding material easily, and the board is ready to be used.
There are at least four other methods of applying edge banding.
- Hot air/laser
- Laser edging
- Edge banding tape
Where To Apply Edge Banding
Most solid wood products don't include any edge banding. However, if you are using plywood or MDF panels in your furniture projects, then it is highly recommended that you apply edge banding to improve the overall durability of the product.
Case sides and drawer fronts which are made of solid wood and have high-pressure laminate tops, also need edge banding.
Common Materials Used For Edgebanding
There are different materials used for edgebanding. The most recent modern type is what's called "high-pressure decorative laminates," which are made up of a combination of paper, glue, and resin. Other materials used include:
This material has excellent adhesive strength. It's easy to use and even easier to work with. It is the most popular edge banding material due to its low cost and extra durability. It also doesn't require a complex finishing process. The main downside to PVC edgebanding material is it's non-biodegradable, and you can't recycle it.
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) edge bands are a great and environmentally friendly alternative to PVC edge banding. It has high impact resistance, is lower in density, has good adhesion properties, is recyclable, and is safe to incinerate.
NOTE: We recommend using a 3mm edging when using PVC because it is easy and faster to apply and with better adhesion. It also creates a smooth and nice premium-looking finish on rough edges. A .5mm edging is challenging to use, especially for beginners –it makes the corners to be too sharp.
Wood veneer is the preferred edge banding material for drawer fronts, plywood cabinet sides, and MDF wardrobe doors. The pre-sanded nature of wood veneer is attractive, strong, durable, and designed to absorb stains and finishes. It provides a clean solid-wood look that seamlessly matches with most wood furniture.
Veneer edge banding strips are produced by joining thin slices of wood joined together in a roll using finger jointing to form a continuous master veneer roll. Common types of tree species that make veneer include maple, mahogany, walnut, oak, ash, and birch. The veneer edging strips usually features a heat-sensitive glue backing. Plus, it's made in a range of thicknesses for different applications.
NOTE: Wood veneer is not heat resistant and doesn't do well in high-traffic areas. Do not apply edge banding made of wood veneer near a heater.
Related: Cabinet Edge Bander With Extension Table
Solid wood is still the preferred choice for edge banding in many applications. The material offers a natural look and feel that matches well with almost any kind of furniture piece, especially if it has one solid color or tone throughout.
Woodworking professionals love solid wood edge strips since they are durable, affordable, easy to fix, refinish, and recyclable. When compared to wood veneer edge band tape, solid wood is more resistant to chipping. Solid wood glue is also more reliable and less prone to peeling.
Solid wood edge banding is a favorite for tops. It's available in a range of thicknesses to provide additional dimensional support to plywood and MDF.
PMMA (Poly Methyl Methacrylate) is an acrylic resin and one of the most durable options for edge banding. It's a tough, shatter-resistant material that can be as thin as .075mm to as thick as 12mm. This makes it perfect for use in heavy-duty applications such as flooring or countertops.
NOTE: PMMA is heat resistant, so that it can be used near high-temperature appliances like microwaves or ovens. But because of its thin nature, acrylic edge banding may not provide the same level of dimensional stability as wood veneer or solid wood strips when attached to your cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
Laser Edgebanding / Zero Joint Edgebanding
This modern form of edge banding offers the possibility of a permanently functional and invisible joint on the finished component thanks to a 100 % adhesive-free, functional layer. The seamless bond creates a permanent, functional invisible joint. The laser process can be used on a wide range of materials, including wood and engineered wood substrates.
How To Choose The Right Edge Bander
Edge banding machines are divided into two types; fully automatic and semi-automatic edge banding machines.
Semi-automatic edge banding machines can do many things, including preheating, scraping, coating, trimming, and polishing. It's mainly suitable for edge banding medium density fiberboard and joinery.
Fully automatic edge banders provide essential functions, including pre-grinding, finishing, scratching, polishing, slotting, sealing, binding, coating, sough repairing, etc. It's more efficient and accurate.
Fully automatic edge banders are mainly suitable for medium and solid wood boards, medium-sized furniture, cabinets, polymer door panels, planers, and plywood.
Advantages Of Edgebanding Over Solid-Wood Wdging
- It's an easy process that requires no sanding, staining, or finishing.
- Edge banding is easy to replace when damaged or worn.
- Edge banding provides additional protection to the wood's surface.
- Adds a professional finish and thus increases the value of your furniture piece.
- It is more affordable than solid-wood edging, which requires staining or varnishing following assembly.
- Appearance. You can also choose from various decorative tapes available in different colors, finishes, and textures.
- It reinforces the edges of your furniture, making them more durable and less prone to damage than solid edging. This is especially important for furniture (like tables) that will be subjected to heavy use or unnecessary roughness.
- Edge banding provides a smooth and clean finish to your furniture.
- It is easy to remove if needed for repairs or replacement.
- Protects the edges from damage caused by dust build-up over time and liquid spills such as milk and other drinks.
Edge banding can be easy and fun to use if you choose a suitable material and a good edge banding machine for your project. Each type of edgebanding machine comes with its own benefits, so it's important to weigh those advantages against your budget and the specific application before making a final decision.