Must-Haves for Edgebanders

Which attributes and capabilities matter most when you're comparison-shopping for an edgebander? December 31, 2012

Iím in the market for a new/proper edgebander. My number one priority is finish quality. I'll be doing a lot of 3mm and also 4 plus mm solid wood strips. What, in your experience, are the best units to include in an edgebander? What gives you the best quality finish: pre-mill, radius scraping, glue scraping, buffing, liquid spray for glue or polish, or corner round?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor M:
You can get perfect results from any of the established manufacturers (I favor Holz-Her). Even their entry level machines will give perfect results. What you need depends more on your production volume. I have a Holz-Her Sprint with scrape and buff. We have to do corner rounding with trimmers by hand but that is ok for our volume (50 to 100 panels a week). As your production increases, features like NC controlled trimmer settings and automatic changeover for 1mm and 3mm tape is very helpful. Premill helps with QC by ensuring there is no chipout on melamine. It can also improve adhesion.

From contributor K:
Research it and go with whoever has the best support. You'll find days that an edgebander is great or can make you tear your hair out. I recommend Homag or Biesse. Edge pre-mill is also great for controlling the finish size of your panels. It is really a nice feature.

From contributor L:
You can go broke with all the options. I'd like to have the laser melt on a new Homag. That option adds about $250K to the price of the machine. What gives you the best quality finish? Pre-mill - yes (doesn't "size" the panel). Radius scraping - yes, glue scraping - yes, buffing Ė yes, liquid spray for glue or polish - don't know but I don't think so. Corner round - a real labor saver as it eliminates another handling.

From the original questioner:
I'm not asking what brand to buy, I have narrowed it down to Biesse, Felder or SCM and they are all within an hour of me. I just need to decide how to spec the machine so I can set them at each otherís throats. It seems pre-mill adds almost $10k to any machine (ouch) as does corner rounding. Scrape and buff seem a "reasonable" expense as long as they produce a noticeable difference in the finished product.

From contributor J:
I would also consider Holz-Her and there are some things that you left out. How much capacity do you need now? How much do you foresee? How are you currently cutting your parts? When we bought our bander we cut our parts on a vertical saw so we bought a bander with pre-mill as if improved our quality. Later we bought a beam saw and now we never use the pre-mill. We have 3mm capacity but no corner rounding and although we thought we would need it it's really been a non-issue. 3mm is really a commercial item and we do primarily residential.

From contributor L:
The amount of "ouch" and when it will occur depend on your amount of usage. Up front or every time you use it. Everything is a trade. Our bander is an IDM58 now part of SCM. I had the SCM tech come in for setup and training (I bought it used.) A new similarly equipped IDM is about $130,000 (Ouch!) To some extent how you equip it will also determine the quality right off the machine. The lighter machines are fine for .5mm or 1mm. Many will do 2mm ok. 3mm is a different animal - stiff and heavy. Pulling it into the gate can tax some feed systems, pressing it tight and holding it to the panel long enough to bond is best done with more pressure rollers than the light machines have. The guillotine has to be substantial. 3mm is tough so the trimmers need to have more power or they will bog down.

Enough warning - have the suspects actually run standard 1mm then change over to 3mm for you from a full roll and then from the very end of a roll. The full roll will show how the machine handles pulling the weight, the end of roll how it handles pressing and holding the banding to the core. 3 mm can be like a clock spring. There are some "soft" 3mm rolls made for contour banders but most of what is available will be the stiff stuff. I've seen machines that claim to be 3mm capable not do so well in real use. If it will run 3mm PVC it will run 4mm wood fine. All banders have a lot of moving parts and adjustments. You will learn as you go.

From the original questioner:
Right this moment I need "low" capacity but I'm expecting (planning/hoping) that will change. I'd like to be ready for the increase. Variety is the name of the game. I do anything that I can, residential, commercial, cabinets, furniture. The only consistent is that I specialize in modern minimalist European design. This demands pinpoint accuracy and extremely clean lines. Iím using a Martin slider to cut parts. The edges are good but could always be better.

From the original questioner:
To contributor L: Excellent advice on running the 3mm test. I'll do that for sure. I'm also considering buying used but for a "temperamental" edgebander I'm a bit nervous. Although if I can get a tech to set it up and service it I would feel much more comfortable.

From contributor M:
For the finish quality, in order of importance, I would go with the following:

Clean, sharp tooling on the trimmers
Corner round
Glue release agent

Aside from the equipment of the machine itself there are equally important issues that directly affect the quality. Dust collection is huge; when bits of plastic start sticking to the copy wheels and tooling the trimming always suffers. Make sure you have a strong dust collector to pull out all the bits. Perfect glue line setup keeps glue contamination of the rest of the stations to a minimum.

From contributor D:
If you are doing 3 mm PVC, bare minimum would be scrape and buff. Corner rounding is a huge time saver. If you need it a lot and will pay for itself if it saves you about 100-130 hours of labor over the expected life of the machine. I have a factory reconditioned Biesse coming in a few weeks. I have Biesse CNC and went with the bander from them because I have had almost zero down time, but when I needed support, it was awesome. My new machine has premill, corner, radius scrape, glue scrape, buff and reheat, and touch screen switch between .5, 1mm, 3mm. Do I need all of it? I went nine years with a Holz-Her and rarely used the corner round and 3mm because of the manual set up and tuning could take 45 minutes.