Pre-Finished Plywood and Wood Edgebanding

Advice on assembly and finishing of a cabinet made with prefinished plywood interiors and solid wood edgebanding. October 13, 2012

Iím embarking on a residential build this week and need some guidance. The kitchen cabinet carcasses are frameless. The architect has spec'd a clear pre-finished grade interior. Edges will be banded with either 1mm or 3mm hardwood and must be painted to match the door and drawer faces. I am concerned about using prefinished plywood, applying an unfinished wood banding that will be applied by an automatic bander, and then post applying a paint finish to the wood edge. It seems problematic and inefficient - and an approach that will produce marginal quality in the end. Any thoughts on how to go about this build spec?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor P:
Veneer core ply usually isn't flat enough to use for frameless cabinets. Do they think they are going to save money with pre-finished?

From contributor J:
Maple ply is pretty much all I use any more for interiors and it has a conversion varnish pre-finish. Very tough finish, and flat - not import. Whatever finish you use on your banding will wipe off the maple ply. I frequently use raw wood tape and stain and top coat it although for painted projects I'd recommend a PVC color match Ė itís tougher and obviously easier.

From the original questioner:
Our bander can put a good edge on. Invariably high spots on banding will sprout on the prefinished side. How do you blend this in without compromising the finish?

From contributor J:
I'm not sure I understand what your high spots are but at completion of assembly raw banding is lightly sanded and edges are eased which I think takes care of the high spots you referred to, and then finished. Any stain that's accidentally over wiped onto the pre-finshed maple is easily wiped off with no problem. If the banding is pre-finshed and/or there are any sand-throughs to raw wood at the maple edge a swipe with a mineral oil rag fixes it.

From the original questioner:
I mean the edge bander is not going to leave a finish ready edge. It will surely require some sanding to blend into panel and remove sharp edges. Regardless if 3mm or 1mm is used to band the carcass it seems nearly impossible to not sand the prefinished panel the banding is applied to; even if taped or mask off. A better approach might be to apply the wood banding to an unfinished plywood, go through sanding steps, paint the intended edge, assemble the box, and then hit the spray room.

From contributor J:
If your top and bottom trimmers aren't set exactly flush things can become more problematic with thicker banding. With .5mm banding it's never a problem though to ease the edge flush to the prefinished ply. The prefinished ply won't accept the finishing you want to do to the banding either. If materials run over onto the plywood it's easily wiped off. This is a big advantage over a raw plywood interior that you'd have to mask. I refuse to ever mask again. I wasted too many years doing that when I did faceframe cabinets.