Applying Nosing to Prefinished Plywood

      The search for a satisfactory way to treat the seam where nosing meets plywood. May 10, 2005

I have quite a few shelves to make which are 3/4 plywood with a 1 1/2 tall by 3/4 thick nosing applied to the front edge. I'm looking for a way to do this with pre-finished plywood. Naturally, the sticking point is how to treat the seam where the nosing meets the plywood. As the plywood is finished, there'll be no sanding after the nosing is applied. I've seen this done where there is a slight 'v' at the joint. I'd guess that if I chose this route, I'd need to edgeband the front edge of the plywood first. Any other methods?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
I put a paint-break (1/16" round over) on both the solid wood edge and the pre-finished ply. This way the variation of the plywood thickness doesn't stand out so much and it is easier to finish. I'm sure there are other ways, but this has been the norm in most of the high-end shops I work in.

To get a good looking shelf you need to pre-finish your nosing and cut to size. If the ends of the shelf will not be seen, dado the length of the shelf and the back of your nosing... If they will be seen, use a stop dado.

Install your facing material on the plywood, leaving approximately 1/16" overhang. Come back with a flush trim and V-groove bit and trim the excess. The bit also leaves an attractive groove at the seam. I bought my bit at Infinity Cutting Tools. It pays to buy good quality cutters.

We do this all the time in our shop (not with the pre-finished, though). The V-groove is a breeze, but be sure to use a sharp, quality bit.

The trick is to set the router bit to cut into 100% nosing material (i.e., never actually touch the plywood). The very top of the V-groove should come imperceptibly close to the plywood veneer. This way, the entirety of the V-groove is hardwood (plywood just looks goofy in stain-grade work when grooved on a 50/50 cut).

I'd use green tape and newspaper to cover the pre-finished part, stain, seal, and clearcoat the nosing, and done! All this taping may end up more hassle than it's worth and unfinished ply may start looking attractive, unless you just have a ton of prefin laying around.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
You can put a small groove on the back of the hardwood cap, cut it to lenght, finish it, and then use a biscuit joiner to attach to the ply. Use blue tape on all your finished surfaces that the joiner will touch or scratching could occur. The biscuit joiner, if itís a quality one, will give you consistent height between hardwood and ply and give you a blind dado effect. Using paper covered blocks when clamping up your work takes care of marring the finish. We use this method for pre-finished, melamine, and foil jobs. It works great.

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