Controlling Overspray when Edgebanding Cabinets

Advice on taping off cabinets before spraying the front, using brush or wipe finishes, or using pre-finished edgebanding. March 4, 2009

Hopefully you can see the photo below and notice the amount of overspray we get when we spray cabinet edges. After spraying we have to spend a considerable amount of time cleaning the cabinets to get the two coats of stain and once coat of clear overspray off the cabinets. Does anyone have a better suggestion or is this just the way it's done. I am at the mercy of my production manager who instituted with method. I'm hoping that someone can suggest a more efficient method of spraying the cabinets.

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Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor T:
1 1/2" masking around the opening, wedged inserts (cardboard) cut to fit/fill the opening(s). Make your production supervisor cleans them - he will undoubtedly reconsider.

From contributor J:
The production manager might consider something really forward thinking like matching PVC edgebanding or prefinished edgebanding.

From contributor G:
It's hard to see from the photo - is that wood tape on the edges? Why not finish it before applying? Another way would be to use a small touchup gun and a hand held mask of cardboard or scrap laminate. Your production manager needs to learn to think outside the box.

From contributor R:
I concur with contributor T. Painters tape and use cardboard inserts. It’s what we used at the shop I used to work at and it works like a charm. It takes a little time just like all prep work but certainly not anywhere near as long as it takes to sand that all off and no worries about sanding through the veneer. For face frames you can run craft paper over the box before you attach the face frame and then just cut out the openings when you are done.

From contributor O:
Why not finish the edge tape before assembling the cabinets? Stack down from largest to smallest one on top of the other. Take the tape off and put paper over the exposed mel and spray and finish like that. Then you assemble the cabinets.

From contributor R:
If your production manager has initiated this method of finishing a tape on edge then I would look into other ways. This person is costing you a fortune in time and materials and waste. When a shop owner speaks about the finishing department as being a "bottle neck" to his/her organization it’s because of downright stupid procedures such as this. If you plan on having a successful finishing department associated with your company, fire this individual right now and put someone in charge who will look out for your best interest.

From contributor M:
Cut the cardboard right on the table saw to fit the openings. Before you insert them tape around the inside that way your cardboard doesn’t have to be right on the edge. It will still stop all the overspray. I also cover any openings on the top of the cabinet by laying cardboard on them. I've seen guys make little knobs and screw them into the cardboard to make it easier.

From the original questioner:
Guys thanks for all the wonderful suggestions. I wanted to get some background information before I discussed changing that method. So cardboard and tape, I would imagine there's definitely time involved with this, but I'm sure it doesn't compare to the laborious task of cleaning heaps of stain and lacquer off of cabinets. Would anyone happen to have a snapshot of their wood cabinets prepped to be sprayed with the cardboard and tape approach? I am also liking the idea of finishing the edgebanding prior to applying it. We assemble the cabs then apply the edgebanding - this is the standard method correct?

From contributor R:
Applying the edgeband after assembly can be a real pain. I have always found it easier to apply it before assembly when the pieces are rough cut. Then when you final size your pieces the edge band is the exact size of the panel and the joints are nice and neat. Also it takes far less time. And as I said above it takes a little time to tape off each opening and put the cardboard in but it is far less than the time it is going to take to sand off the overspray or if as the other posts mention using the melamine panels it has to be a real pain in the butt to clean them off.

A couple of coarse thread screws put through the cardboard is all it takes to use as "knobs" to position them. You probably get plenty of sheets in on your plywood deliveries that your distributor uses for packing.

From contributor A:
Why are you spraying the stain? PVC tape is not always an option. Pre-staining an entire roll of edgbanding can't take too much time. Another option is to mask for wipe on staining. Then spray the entire box with the clear topcoat. It is very frustrating to work for someone who is hell bent on wasting time and money.

From contributor C:
Standard method would be to apply the edge banding before assembly. I see no reason you could not pre-finish your components prior to assembly. Your production manager is not qualified to hold such a position.

From contributor P:
I tried edgebanding my cabinets after they're assembled, but they keep jamming up my edgebander. Maybe I should have taken the doors off first?

From contributor J:
2.5" Tape on the edges of the inside and a detail gun to minimize overspray would solve all your problems. Cardboard of FF less cabinets is not the way to go. For FF cabinets cutting a piece of cardboard out and taping it in takes like five minutes - use the tablesaw. Finding a sufficient amount of cardboard might be a different story. Plywood units usually have some big sheets on top and bottom.

From contributor S:
I had to read this twice to make sure I read it correctly. Why would you ever apply the edge banding after assembly. That would seem to me to be much more time consuming than applying before assembly. But, maybe I've been doing it wrong all along. Anyway, I do a lot of wood edgebanding on melamine, and even though I've always wiped the stain on, as opposed to spraying, I did spray lacquer on the banding in the past. Even though you couldn't really see the lacquer on the case parts, I would clean it off anyway. This probably wasn't anywhere near as time consuming as what you have to do, but it was still too time consuming for me. I switched to brushing on a polyurethane with a small foam brush, and it's much quicker and much neater. You can do this without getting any on the case parts once you get the hang of it. I can brush two coats on a typical kitchen (20 to 30 boxes) with a light sanding in between in about two hours. And wiping the stain is the only way to go if you're applying it after assembly.

From contributor S:
Your production manager is costing your company a lot of money. How do you make any profit with his production methods? This person is a time waster. Edgebanding after assembly shouldn't even be an option. A good production manager should decrease production time and increase profits, not increase production time and decrease profits. You could finish those cabinet edges faster with a Q-Tip.

If you are the production manager's boss, fire this person now. Do not wait any longer. If the production manager is your boss, print out this thread and give it to the production manager's boss. This person shouldn't be managing anything. This person is wasting time, money, material and labor. Does your production manager make his own glue or does he use the kind that comes in a bottle?

From the original questioner:
I am grateful all of the wonderful input everyone has offered, and believe me most of it will be put in action. I do have one question; we don't have a CNC machine, so everything is cut on the table saw. Is it still feasible to edgeband prior to assemble when using a table saw, or is this method solely for CNC use?

From contributor R:
Most definitely! If you are using a good plywood blade like a Forrest Duraline you will get a glass smooth cut and the edge band will not blow out when you cut it giving you a nice tight joint when you build your boxes.

From the original questioner:
Do more of you concur with contributor R that the edgebanding can be applied prior to assembly when cutting on a table saw (considering you have a good blade)?

From contributor C:
It doesn't matter if it is CNC or not. If you have a good blade and operator cuts will come out better than CNC. Definitely edgeband before.

From contributor K:
I believe the general sequence to be cut, edgeband, linebore, assemble. Although I've never tried it, it seems that edgebanding after assembly would greatly complicate the process. It also looks like you may not be using your holes for anything but shelves? They appear to be placed at a greater distance off the face than 37mm and there appears to be none at the locations that would take drawer guides. Most consider it much easier to install guides on flat panels than after assembly also. There are tons of good articles in the Knowledge Base on production of frameless casework. If you're not set up to make casework, it may be quite a bit more cost effective to outsource this portion of your projects.

From contributor D:
When color-matched PVC simply won't do, take a roll of edgebanding and unwrap it around a 55 gallon drum. With some ingenuity, you can create a rotating drum assembly where you can stain and spray while rotating the drum. Once the edgebanding is finished, run it through the edgebander. We adopted this method after seeing it done by a frameless cabinet company doing 40 million dollars a year.

From contributor R:
If your boss is adamant about staining after the edgeband is applied why not consider the liquid masking that you can pick up at any paint supply house that the painters use for windows (check its compatibility with melamine) and just wipe the stain on the edgebanding with a rag. It would probably take minutes to do instead of the countless hours spent cleaning off that mess when you could be far more productive doing something else like generating profits for the shop. And hand your shop manager a broom and dust pan to see if he is qualified to at least clean up after the people that are actually doing the work.