463 Walls of Shelves Pt. 5

August 7, 2011

It’s the final episode in the “Walls of Shelves” series. In today’s episode I’m applying a veneer edge banding to the exposed edges of the shelving units and ALL the shelves that go with them.

Unlike in previous builds where I’ve opted to use solid edge banding, this time I’m turning to the pre-glued version. I’ve always been skeptical, to some degree, about how reliable it can be. But once the heat re-activated the glue, all my skepticism went out the window. It not only holds better than I anticipated, it set up faster than I thought it would. So there was a bit of a learning curve to getting it in place without a lot of swearing.

My other big concern with edge banding veneer was whether it would look fake and obviously applied. But just like with any wood joint, solid or not, it’s a matter of leveling and sanding for a perfect mating surface. In fact, hopefully in the second half I’ll be able to adequately show you what I mean.

If after watching the show you have an alternate method to anything we’ve discussed in the entire build series I’d love to hear about it, leave a comment below or drop me a line by CLICKING HERE.

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Comments (12)

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  1. Blair says:

    Hey Matt, first off, I love the site, great content.

    I’ll be doing quite a bit of painted shelving and built-ins over the next few months and I just had a question about materials.

    I was wondering if you had considered using MDF in place of birch ply since the piece will be painted anyway? It’s quite a bit cheaper and the edges only need to be patched instead of veneered. Are there some cons that I may be overlooking?

    Also, what did you use to paint? Sprayer, brush, rollers? I’m considering a small spray system to save some time and get some more professional results.

    Thanks in advance, keep up the good work!


    • Matt says:

      Thank you for watching the build, it’s much appreciated! As for MDF, I did consider using it because of the painted finish.

      I’ve had such bad luck with containing the dust it creates when being cut, I didn’t want to risk having it everywhere.

      I decided it was better to go with what little I knew I could control, than to risk having the dust somehow show up on my toothbrush on the other side of the house lol!

      As for paint application, it was just rollers and brushes. I’m so uncomfortable with spraying it’s ridiculous, but someday I’ll do it.

      • blair says:

        Thanks for the quick response!

        I hear you about the dust, I have a basement shop as well and it’s a challenge keeping it contained.

        I have had decent results with brushes and rollers but it definitely takes time. I’m really curious about the Earlex systems. Marc (The Wood Whisperer) did a few video reviews and they look great. I might give one a try, it’ll just eat into my profits a bit. Oh well, it’s all about getting new toys anyway.

        Thanks again!

        • Matt says:

          The Earlex sprayer are a nice entry system for a lot of woodworkers. I know I’ve considered it myself.

  2. Tim says:

    Thanks for another informative series!

  3. Sean says:

    Thanks for the edge banding tips. I will be banding the edges of a cabinet real soon and your examples were very helpful. Thanks.

  4. Vic Hubbard says:

    I appropriated a really nice travel iron for this very purpose years ago for a little zig-zag shelf Sylvia had me build in our old house. It’s nice because it slip right into a shallow drawer.

  5. Robbie says:

    Matt-you should see if Rockler will let you demo one of their HVLP systems? All of the reviews on the Rockler website are 4-5 stars and the system is on sale for under a $100 right now. Maybe they would give you one for a schwag drawing.

  6. John Verreault (aka Johnny_Vee) says:

    Hey Matt

    As usual, it was a great series with lots of valuable tips, techniques and as for the tools you get to play with…don’t get me started. Looking forward to the next build my friend.
    Take care.


  7. Fr. Thomas says:

    I use veneer banding frequently when I am using plywood. Recently I attempted to use it on a curved edge, instead of a straight edge with which I am more familiar. However, I ran into difficulty on the curves, one being that the radius was too tight for the iron to fit and the other was gripping power. The piece had both a convex and concave curve and with only doing one curve at a time the banding did not hold. I had hoped that you might include footage from the curved shelves, but alas there was not any. Do you have any suggestions on how to make it work for multiple curves or should I just use solid wood if I want to do something as complex? Thanks.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Fr. Thomas

      Thanks for writing with your question. I wish I had captured some good footage of veneering the curves on the shelving project. I was really struggling for almost the same reason you mentioned about the tight radius, then I took a chance on an idea I figured would fail miserably. Amazingly, it worked!

      To get the veneer in place all I needed to do was heat the strip then apply it. So I turned the iron on (in fact I clamped it upside down on my bench) then holding the veneer strip at either end, I set it on the face of the iron, heated the glue and then quickly applied it in the tight corner and pressed it into place.

      It worked! There’s a small window of opportunity when the glue is malleable and you can make adjustments to the positioning. For me, I only had this one curve to deal with but it was the fact I could get it in place and then work outward from there.

      The length of veneer I could heat up and get in position was up to 6 inches in length. It was perfect for my needs and more importantly it held.

      Since then, a couple more ideas came to me about this situation. A couple of tools that could be used too are a curling iron (I haven’t tried this yet, my wife and daughter would kill me) and a hair dryer or heat gun.

      Because the glue activates with heat, applying a stream of hot air should work, it just may take a little longer.

      The key for me was to be as close to the item being veneered as possible to take advantage of the heat, but after a practice run or two. You should be able to accomplish it with little problem.

      Hope this helps!

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