Hand Methods for Trimming Edgebanding

Non-edgebander-owning cabinetmakers talk edgebanding tips and tricks. January 19, 2012

I am just now getting into doing edgebanding. I tried the peel and stick stuff from Fastcap on the little kitchen I'm working on right now, which is only about eight shelves. I don't like it at all and the directions say that the glue dries fully in 24 hours so I waited 36 and itís still as wet as it was. So now I have ordered a roll of pre-glued. I had a hard time trimming the peel and stick stuff and was wondering if these little hand held cutters do a good job? If so, which one? They seem to all have mixed reviews. Some say that a trim router is best?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
If youíre manually applying and trimming the tape, the easiest method is to use pre-glued melamine tape with an iron to apply. Then use a razor to trim the ends by putting the panel tape down on a bench and following the panel edge with the blade. Then use the double side trimmer gizmo to trim the sides. They also have little gizmos for trimming the ends, but I have never used one so I can comment on how flush they actually trim it.

I always found the Fastcap tape to be a pain to trim because itís sticky and gums up the blades. I also find that it creeps back from being tight to the edge a little after trimming. The only time I use the Fastcap is on cabinets such as Lazy Susanís where you need to get in that notched area but thatís usually only two to four panels per kitchen, so I live with it.

A local guy here sprays his tape with contact cement, and the panel edge with the contact cement. He applies to full 8' rips, then trims the tape with a chisel, then will crosscut the panels to length. I now have an SCM bander, so I canít comment on his method, but he seems to prefer it to iron on or peel and stick.

From contributor F:
I've tried several of those little trimmers and haven't found one yet that I really like. They will work well on some things, like the plastic tape for melamine, but not so hot for wood tape. What I find works best for me is a sharp chisel. I have one set aside for just this task. I altered it by just slightly rounding the back of the chisel by dragging it back across a sharpening stone a couple times in a rounding motion. This little detail keeps the chisel from digging into the panels too easily. Of course once you do it it's not a good chisel for other work, so you want to do it to an extra chisel. Now if I could just free up some cash for a nice little edgebander.

Below is a video regarding a homemade jig.

From contributor E:
Yep the razor trick in the video is the best and I had used it to trim 1000' of edgebanding before I bought an edgbanding machine. I ripped the sheets, edged them, and then crosscut them.

From contributor F:
That razor trick does look pretty good. Has anyone tried it on wood banding though? The plastic stuff is always easier to trim. I might have to give it a shot later to see if it'll work on my maple banding.

From contributor J:
With wood banding, you need to make sure you are going with the grain. Just like when jointing or planning to avoid the tearout.

From contributor S:
No matter what anyone else tells you, I would strongly advise you to never use melamine iron-on tape. Use PVC. Melamine based tape is very brittle and chips easily. PVC is resilient and does not chip, the most important factor in edging.

Since you cannot easily apply PVC tape by heat without an edgebanding machine, try sticking it on with spray contact cement. Just stack up your edges together and spray together. For the tape, lay 8' lengths down side by side and spray together. A wide sharp chisel easily trims the edges and won't dig into the wood unless you lean the chisel over.

From the original questioner:
I've been trying the razor in the wood block trick and it does work well. I also bought the ''Bandit'' trimmer and it works well too.

From contributor L:
I have a Bandit trimmer also and it is my least favorite. I have always used an older style FastCap and Virutex double sided spring loaded trimmer. I also use the black plastic trimmers with ceramic blades WoodworkersSupply has. One has a bevel and the other is strait and they are made in Japan. If the banding is tearing out I will use a trim router. Soften edges by hand with sandpaper.

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

Comment from contributor M:
For trimming, I have found the Festool MFK 700 in Horizontal mode to be excellent for trimming the thinnest of edge banding all the way up to thicknesses slightly exceeding 1/2 inch. I have tried almost everything else that is available for small shops.