I need to get a bander that can do 3mm PVC, but can't afford both a standard one and a contour bander. Seems like every project has some type of curved or radiused element, so was wondering if it would make sense to just get a contour bander first and use that for the straight components as well. Either way the bander wouldn't be used daily. Does anyone have experience with a contour bander, and how good is the edge coming off of a contour trimmer?
From contributor M:
Contour banders are great if all you are doing is an occasional edge for shelves and the odd curve. If you are making frameless cabinetry, even if it is only one kitchen a week, a fully auto straight line bander will be necessary. Without it you will spend more time banding edges than any other operation. With an automatic bander, applying the banding becomes the smallest part of making a cabinet.
I suspect you are looking at low end machines, because the price difference is huge. A decent contour machine costs 2 or 3 K and there are some smart combo glue/trim machines for 5 or 7K. An entry level auto bander is around 25K and that is just a beginner machine. A long term solution will be closer to 40K.
If you are hoping to buy an auto bander for 10K, I suggest you get a contour machine instead. A trimmer is nice also, but not as big of a deal. Handheld trimmers are pretty fast once you get the hang of it. The new portable glue machines are nifty. Laguna stocks a nice package. These things are almost as good as a stationary contour bander and are much more versatile. The complete kits are less than 2K.