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Plans N O W ®

TOOLS & TECHNIQUES SERIES

w w w. p l a n s n o w. c o m

get an invisible
Plywood Edge
You want to hide the edges of your plywood panels, but you
don’t want the edging to show. It’s not as hard as it sounds.

I use hardwood plywood in my proj- And more often than not, { Heat-sensitive veneer tape can be easily
A thicker edging
ects all the time. It makes the job go they need to be hidden. applied to the plywood edge with a warm
strip can be
easier and the quality of the project For some projects, I’ll iron. When trimmed flush, the thin veneered
trimmed to leave
better. But there is one drawback to simply glue on a 1/4"-wide edge won’t be noticed.
a thin edge. }
plywood — the exposed edges. To strip of solid wood, trim it
put it simply, the edges of plywood flush and not worry too much if tape that’s made specifically for
can be downright ugly. the edging doesn’t blend well. But this purpose. It comes in rolls and
other times, you might want to is made from very thin hardwood
apply an edge to the plywood veneers. You can find it in most of
that’s a little more subtle — an the common wood species.
invisible edge. Sound impossible? There are two different types of
Well there are actually a number of edging tape and both are pretty easy
ways to accomplish this without to apply. The self-adhesive type
too much extra effort. works just like sticky tape. It can be
applied using nothing more than
MAKE IT THIN some firm pressure.
When your edging is thin enough, it The heat-sensitive type takes only
becomes nearly impossible to see. a little more work. It has a coating of
Edging that’s only 1/32" to 1/16"-wide adhesive on one side that can be acti-
won’t be noticeable except under the vated with “gentle” heat. All you do
closest examination. And there are to is set it in place and use an iron to
several different thin options. apply the heat, as shown in the
EDGING TAPE . One of the quickest photo above. Both types of edging
and easiest options for thin ply- tape are made slightly oversized in
A thick edging piece wood edging is adhesive veneer width. Once the tape is stuck firmly
glued into a rabbet in the
edge of the plywood leaves
< an invisible seam.

Edging From Plywood. To make Cut It Loose. Next, use a sharp util-
thin edging from plywood scraps, first ity knife to cut the veneer strip from
make a saw cut on the joint line the plywood panel. The edging will
between the face veneer and core. be a perfect match in grain and color.

From Woodsmith magazine page 1 of 2 ©2004 August Home Publishing


All rights reserved One copy for personal use. Other copies prohibited.
in place, you trim it flush to the sur-
face of the plywood and you’re done. so that only the
TRIM IT THIN. Sometimes I want a thin thin face veneer of
edge that will hold up to a little more the plywood remains on
wear and tear than edging tape. So in one side. When a thick
this case I make my own slightly edging strip is glued tightly
thicker edging, as shown in the upper into this rabbet, the joint line
example at far left. between the thin face veneer and
The easiest way to do this is to start the edging strip disappears. You
thick and end up thin. By this I mean end up with what looks like a seam-
{ A roundover or
you apply a thicker edging (about less, solid-wood edge. This tech-
chamfer routed
¼” thick) to the plywood and then nique involves a little more work,
onto the edging
trim off the excess on the table saw. but it works like a charm.
strip will provide
A final thickness of about 1/16" gives a disguise for the
you a little more durability at the DISGUISE IT
joint line.
edge, but it still isn’t thick enough to Making it thin isn’t the only way to
be noticed. hide your plywood edging. Another
A PERFECT MATCH. If you want to apply strategy involves using a thicker edg-
a thin edge and also ensure a perfect ing piece and then disguising it. The
match between the edging and ply- idea is to visually blend the the ply-
wood face, the two drawings on page wood and the edging piece so that
1 show you how. This method uses the transition from one to the other
the thin, face veneer from a scrap won’t be noticeable.
piece of the same plywood as the I start by gluing a standard 1/4"-
edging piece. When it’s glued to the thick edging strip to the plywood
workpiece, you have both a thin edge and then trimming it flush to the
and one with the same grain and surface. Then I add a little some-
color as the plywood face veneer. thing extra. A molded edge that
easily draws your eye from the A Smooth Transition. A carefully
A DIFFERENT APPROACH. Another way edging to the plywood face can suc- routed roundover ending right at the
to go “thin” with edging takes a cessfully hide the joint line or any joint line between the edging and the
unique approach. Here, the plywood grain or color difference between plywood can fool the eye.
veneer provides the thin edge. A the two pieces.
thicker edging strip is used, but still The drawing and the photo above
creates an invisible edge on one face give you the idea. The edges of the a second cut on the bottom edge.
of the plywood. routed molding cuts (chamfer or You still have edged plywood but
The trick here is shown in the roundover) on the edging strips fall you would have to look pretty close
lower example and drawing at left. right at the joint line. And if the panel to see it. W
First, the plywood edge is rabbeted will be seen from both sides, make

Shelves: Beef It Up
On occasion you not only need to borrowed the trick shown above to
hide the edge of the plywood, but disguise the edge. A simple
also add some extra strength and roundover creates a seamless flow
thickness. Heavy-duty bookshelves from the plywood panel to the solid-
come to mind. So how do you do wood edging.
this and not make it look obvious? The second example (lower shelf)
Well, a couple solutions are shown uses a similar idea but with a dif-
in the photo at right. ferent joint. Here I applied a stout
The first example (top shelf) piece of edging with a carefully cut { A thick edging piece
shows a thick rabbeted strip applied splined miter joint. The resulting carefully joined to the
to the plywood that adds both visual invisible joint and crisp edge will plywood not only hides
thickness and a considerable amount leave anyone guessing — is it ply- the “core,” but also
of stiffness. And then notice how I wood or solid wood? adds strength.

From Woodsmith magazine page 2 of 2 ©2004 August Home Publishing


All rights reserved One copy for personal use. Other copies prohibited.