Edgebander Options and Space Considerations

A closet contractor working in a small space considers an edgebander upgrade. September 7, 2006

I've got a small closet business and my Virutex AG98F edgebander (hand held) is about worn out. I'm not ready for a full size unit, so I need advice on getting a new hand held one. What is the best brand/model for my application (PVC banding)?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
You might consider the cost of your throwaway banders and the extra time it takes to use it in comparison with a nice hot air unit. There is an incredible difference in the banding time and quality of your product. If not a full size unit, you might save money with a $12 Black and Decker Edgebander from Walmart and a $15 Virutex edge trimmer.

From contributor A:
Listen to contributor B. I too have one of the AG98F's. It works fine, but we use an iron and a laminate roller for pressure while the edgeband is still hot. Seems to work better than the Virutex. The employees don't even use the AG98 anymore.

From the original questioner:
Contributor B, do you have any experience with the hot air banders you suggested? Which would you recommend? What the heck were you talking about in regard to a $12 Black and Decker Bander? Contributor A, I guess you must be doing wood banding. I'm doing PVC and I don't think an iron would work very well. Am I wrong? Thanks for replying.

From contributor M:
I told you that this was going to happen once the Striebig was up and running. Once you have the banding figured out, you will then be looking at a double line bore to replace your single row. Itís amazing how once the cutting becomes fast and accurate, the banding becomes slow and then the boring will follow.

Donít sell yourself short. You should definitely be looking for a permanent solution rather than a temporary fix. I think that you are only putting off the inevitable. I would highly recommend a hot glue machine, but if you are thinking on getting a hot air bander, do a search on WOODWEB to see what others have said.

From the original questioner:
Contributor M, there isn't much that gets by you. You're right, I should just bite the bullet. My biggest (perceived) problem is space, but after seeing your shop, there has got to be a way... The fellow who installed the vertical saw said Holtz-Her made good low end banders, low maintenance, etc.

From contributor D:
I really believe you need to bite the bullet and buy a real edgebander. I remember about 6-7 years ago when I did just that and bought an SCMI K201 bander for $15,000. Great decision! We are just a two man operation. Didn't even notice the payments, but the quality of the banding was incredibly better than hot-air or iron-on. Not even on the same planet.

You need a real bander much more so, even, than I did. Nearly every piece of your product needs to be banded. Get a glue pot bander or the cartridge setup from Holz-Her instead of some expensive hot air setup. Guys have been having good luck with the Cehisa three-station bander for under $20,000. A friend of mine bought one and I saw it last month - it is a great machine.

You cannot imagine the improvement in your product and the tremendous increase in speed. The time savings alone will pay for your bander in one year. Most of us cabinetmakers do not value our time as much as we should. It took me nearly a lifetime to realize I cannot waste time on inferior machinery or the wrong kind of machinery and expect to make real money.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the advice. The biggest problem is space in my shop, but I think I can get one to fit if I get creative. It's nice to hear from others who have been there.

From contributor D:
My SCMI K201 bander is very small and is on wheels, plus it can be connected using either single or three phase (I have mine on single, although I have three phase). It measures 7 1/2 ft. long and only 2' 2" wide. It does need room to operate and I often roll it out on floor. I operate with my main shop area at only 550 sf. I do have an auxiliary shop outside, under roof, of around 800sf, but use it only for a few operations and finishing.

I don't necessarily recommend you buy SCMI, as there are major differences with it from the Cehisa. Mine is only 2 stations and the cut-off saw is 90 degrees. The Cehisa for the same price has 3 stations (includes a buffer, I think) and the cut-off saw is angled, which gives a better end cut on panels. At this point, if I had it to do over, I would seriously look at Cehisa. It is a longer machine and would require more space, and I don't think it is on rollers - it is a larger machine. Perhaps you could put up near your door and open up door for longer pieces - sounds funny, but I did it for a long while.

I am re-doing my main shop area to add around 200sf and hope to give the bander a permanent home along one side for the first time.

In my opinion, you have *got* to get a real bander. I honestly didn't start to make real money till I did. I converted to frameless.

Watch out for leases - I got stung and will never do it again. I think it is best to go to a bank if you have a good relationship and interest rate is reasonable (two often difficult things). If you do go with lease, make sure you completely understand what they are doing with you. I got into one where I had a 10% buyout, which I did not understand, and I ended up having to pay for the machine plus another 10%! How stupid is that, but my local machinery company did it to me - I never went back to them. Plus I put a large down payment which was, again, stupid and hurt my cash flow. On a lease you don't save any money by paying off early and the actual interest rate is often hidden quite well.

From contributor M:
When I was shopping for an edgebander, contributor D was very helpful in advising me and answering all my questions. He does know what he is talking about and Iím glad that I took his advice. Iím very happy with my SCMi K201 HF bander (same as his), and it is working as I expected. The one thing that I would do differently, and Iím already planning on upgrading in the near future, is to get one that has buffing. The dealer told me that I can trade it in on a larger machine when the time comesÖ Weíll see if he keeps his word and gives me a reasonable deal.

Contributor D, the questioner has been to my shop and I have been to his. He has seen the K201 bander in action and knows what it can do for him. Problem is, heís not kidding when he says that space is at a premium in his shop. I definitely think that it is doable, but it is going to take some thought and creative layout, and everything that can be, must be on wheels. I also havenít seen his shop since the vertical saw was installed, so that might affect his usable space as I remember it.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the great discussion. You guys have convinced me. For my size business (small), quality will be critical as I try to upscale the jobs, and edgebanding is a key limitation. I recently saw the Cehisa and I saw the Holtz Her last March. It will probably be between the two. This is all dependent on a strategy for shop space, but I think it can be done.

From contributor D:
Remember, you can plan putting bander near an overhead door or even a regular door and when you have 6-8' panels, you can simply open the door and run the parts and close the door. Of course, you need to be able to run majority of parts without opening doors. I did that for some years before I changed placement of bander.

Contributor M, glad you are happy with the K201. I don't mean to put the little machine down - it has been perfect for us and may work perfectly for the questioner also. I don't think any other machines are on wheels from factory, but I'm sure a person could put one on wheels. The one problem I see with this is the larger/heavier the machine, the more possible problems there would be with alignment issues on wheels.

Thinking creatively here, how about a small addition to your shop? You could pop out one end for a few thousand and it would improve your shop flow also, which is a consideration. When I first bought my bander, we were in a tiny home with about a 350sf garage. I decided one day to put a 200sf addition on the other side of the home and did it in two days. Of course, I did not permit it, which in my particular case was not a problem even when I sold home - the new space simply does not count towards sf of sale price - but no garage space does either. I'm a licensed contractor, so I don't recommend not permitting - just letting you know that if push comes to shove, you always have alternatives.