Pressure-Sensitive Versus Iron-On Edgebanding

Which is the better economical choice for low-volume, occasional edgebanding needs? March 25, 2007

I need a small scale solution to edgebanding by hand. (I normally use solid banding.) Should I get pressure sensitive or iron-on edgebanding?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
I've never used the pressure sensitive banding, but in general I'm never impressed with the adhesive's ability to stay stuck. I've had too many PS failures in items other than wood edging.

I am familiar with hand applying edging tape and I haven't had any failures as long as it was applied and pressed properly at the beginning. I've always caught any looming failures before they got into the finishing room. If you rub your finger along the tape you can hear it gets hollow sounding if there is a bad adhesion point.

From contributor D:
We've used both the iron-on pre-glued and the FastTape from FastCap pressure sensitive. The FastTape saved a lot of time, but I would only recommend the PVC stuff for melamine - the real wood had more troubles in trimming, with the grain chipping out. My business partner thought that the FastTape allowed too much movement after it was trimmed, but a couple of our guys liked it. We used it on a big project that had a very tight timeline.

Otherwise, we like the iron-on type best. We build primarily face frame cabs, so we use it mostly on shelves, but are building more frameless contemporary style cabinets at some specific client and designer requests.

From the original questioner:

Thanks for the responses. I went with the iron-on type. It's only needed on shelves (face frame cabinets) so it won't be too bad. It will definately be quicker than gluing on solid banding.

I bought the Fastcap double/squeeze trimmer. However, from what I can see, it doesn't allow for trimming the ends. What's the most efficient way to do that?

From contributor L:
I use a pair of old fashion tin snips. Once you get used to using them it is quick and easy. Just balance the snips on the edge of the wood and cut.

From contributor H:
Virutex makes a small plastic guillotine for the ends. Does a neat job.

From contributor S:
Buy a Virutex end trimmer. It's the same company which is well known for its double edge trimmer. The end trimmer is a cheap tool (under $30) which is worth its weight in gold. I use it for trimming all edge banding, even high pressure plastic laminate.

From contributor M:
We use the pre-finished Fastcap peel and stick banding for pre-finished plywood. It's best to let it sit overnight before trimming because the adhesive is wet and messy when first peeled. Sometimes a little glue will ooze out after trimming, but cleans up easily with naphtha. We've used this for several years on kitchens with no failures. Can't say that about iron-on.

From the original questioner:
I will make due with the tin snips this go around because I have them here already. Can you get pre-finished iron-on? I would like to use pre-finished ply from now on, so the pre-finished banding would make sense.

Is the pressure sensitive easy to adjust before you roll it down, or does it grab like contact cement on first touch?

From contributor J:
I primarily use pre-finished maple ply and I buy pre-finished iron-on. Works great, just don't dwell on one spot too long. Right now I am paying about 50 bucks for a 250 ft roll from Edgeco, here in NJ.

From the original questioner:
I'm glad to know that that product is available for future use. How long should I allow the banding to cool before trimming the edges?

From contributor J:
I wait at least a minute:} I am probably wrong, but I iron it, put down the iron, pick up trimmer, trim. Above all, if you do not have it, get the VIRUTEX end trimmer. It is worth double its weight in gold. For edges, I only have the double blade hand trimmer. If I were doing miles of this, I would have to get other equipment.

From contributor U:
FASTCAP Fastedge is the only sane way to go. This stuff works great. The guy up top is right about the real wood banding chipping a bit, but there are ways around that. The PVC stuff works like a dream. It is so fast to apply with no hot iron sitting around. I can not say enough good about the product - it has definately made me some money even though it is a bit pricey. Also, Virutux plastic guillotine cutters work great until it snaps in half (plastic crap), but they also offer a tool that is a lot better quality made of metal and much more accurate. It also works like a dream and has not failed me once I adjusted it in. Again, I did have a little trouble with the pre-finished maple Fastedge, but it works out in the end with a flat block with some 150 grit paper stuck to it. I have had iron-on fail me too many times over the years. If you have to do it by hand, Fastcap Fastedge is the way to go.

From contributor F:
What do you do to prevent the veneer from chipping out? Would rough trimming with a straight bit work better than the edge trimmer? That dispenser box is a stroke of genius with the built-in length indicator. I'll have to do an experiment with this stuff compared to regular heat activated edgebanding.

From contributor M:
The Fastedge tape grabs like contact. We've been trimming edge tape with a sharp plasti-cut file for years. Trimmer bits clog up with glue real fast and you still have to pick up the file. When filing pre-finished, keep the file at a steep angle for the final strokes to prevent scratching finish and keep that card file close by. It takes a little practice to master but when you do, you'll be silly fast.

From contributor T:
I am new to the cabinetmaking business and would like to know the best way to edgeband cabinets made from melamine to withstand high humidity areas without peeling?

From contributor F:
It's true that the Fastedge works great! I just experimented with a small roll of the white PVC and once the edges are trimmed, the tape is not coming off any time soon. It's much less brittle than the melamine/polyester stuff as well.

For those of you who own a cheapo Jet/Freud/Woodtek hot air edgebander like I do, you can actually feed it through the machine (turned off), although you'll need to place the roll on top of some wax paper since the glue extends all the way to the edges and will stick to the edgebanding tray. You will need to lean on the guillotine a second or third time to rough trim as the PVC is a little bit tougher to cut. The Virutex edge and end trimmers will work, although I'm finding success with just using a seven degree bevel bit to combine rough and finish edge trimming. I may try the no-file laminate trimming bit if the bit gums up with glue on longer runs. One more small step forward for the small shop!