I posted an earlier question about edge banding without an edge bander. FastEdge was recommended by a few people and that was the route I was planning to take. After checking prices, finding a used Virutex handheld in my area, and reading some earlier posts, I am left with the following options:
1. Buy ~$200-$300 worth of FastEdge, which will complete a couple known jobs (including my own shop cabinets).
2. Buy a used Virutex AG98F and pre-glued banding, which will probably cost about the same as option #1 for initial jobs, but will be cheaper after that due to the lower cost of pre-glued compared to FastEdge.
3. Buy a cheap iron to use with the pre-glued edge banding. This is obviously the cheapest option, but I have done this in the past (very small job) and it seemed time consuming. I wasn't even considering this option until I read some earlier posts where this was recommended when compared to the handheld edge bander. Will the Virutex be faster/better?
I realize many people will say that I should invest in a real edgebander, but that is not an option for me currently for a variety of reasons.
From contributor A:
I have the handheld Virutex. It sits in a drawer all by itself. I haven't used it in about three years. I could never get it to work well. I ended up buying a small table top from Woodworkers Supply. It's similar to the old Freud model. I primarily use it for edgebanding shelves and occasional partitions. We only do face frame construction. I use pre-finished tape and it works really great. Just another option...
I'm not sure how much time you'll save with a handheld edgebander, as most of the time for me seems to be with trimming. My gut feeling is to get started with an iron for now and if you have enough business to justify getting something bigger down the road, then you'll also have more money to invest.
Both of these are a far cry from a decent edgebander, but you really need to buy a good one to avoid a lot of frustration you will have with a cheapie. For a while, I owned the floor model Virutex, but it needed too much babysitting. I do only face frame cabinets and have gone to wood molding for all shelf edges, so edge banding isn't a big deal for me. My decision to stay with this method is largely due to the hassles and expense associated with edge banders. Too much time spent on any phase dips into your pocket. The time spent building face frames, for me, is a better way to go than fiddling with edge banders.
Iron - The labor costs are out of this world. The stick-on stuff wins hands down here. And the iron-on stuff is very thin. It also tended to telegraph the texture of the material under the edgebanding, especially melamine.
Virutex hand held thingy - Got one. Never got the hang of it. It also takes two hands to use. Found you had to really press down as you pulled to get a good bond. And it tended to not stick real well on the edges. I'd go back with the "hair dryer" part of the thing to heat up the edges and press with a roller to get the edges to stick. Again, quite slow, but faster than an iron.
Peel and stick - Works okay. Best of the three. Trimming was a pain. Dulled the blades of the trimmer fairly quickly. But by far the best. Found a company that will put the peel and stick on any edgebanding, so you are not limited.
But we have gone to a real wood .25 edgeband. If we use maple plywood, we use maple hardwood and make our own edgebanding. It seems to be just as fast, it uses up scrap and we can control the finish easier. And, more importantly, our customers get real excited when we tell them we use real wood that is 1/4" thick, not edgebanding. Everyone has seen cheap furniture that has the edgebanding peeling off. So I've found people associate that with K-mart quality stuff. Big selling feature.
But if I had a 30K Chelsia with 3mm capacity, trimming, buffing and scraping, I'd use that. We just don't need one and can't justify the expense.
But 90% it's the brad nailer. Sand it flush top and bottom and finish. Fill the brad holes with a touch of matching wax when the finish is all dry.
You can also use a flush trim bit in a router to trim the front. For a little decorative edge, use a round over bit to flush the top edge. But the real advantage is the selling feature to a customer. But once the volume justifies, get a hot melt (glue pot) bander that will use solid wood strips.