Woodworking Tips
Woodworking Tips Index
Trimming Plywood Edging

PREVIOUS EDGING TIPS. For the past couple of weeks, I've been offering tips for adding solid wood edging to plywood. To see last week's tip, Click here. To see the first week's tip, Click here.  
Over the last two weeks we've learned a little bit about attaching solid wood edging to plywood. From deciding how best to attach the edging to choosing the best method to glue and clamp it to the plywood. Now I'd like to suggest a couple of ways to finish up the job. (If you're joining us for the first time and missed previous tips, click on the link beneath the photo to see last week's tip.)

As I mentioned the first week, I left the edging oversized so that it stands a little proud (about 1/32" on both faces of the plywood). To trim it flush, there are two methods I like to use, depending on how many pieces there are to trim.

Block planeBlock Plane & Scraper. If I only have a few pieces to work with, I typically use a block plane that's set to make a light cut, see top drawing at left. But before I start planing, I put a strip of masking tape on the plywood along the edging. The tape becomes a buffer between the cutting edge and the veneer so I don't do any damage. When the plane starts to cut into the tape, I know it's time to switch tools.

ScraperShop Tip: I also find it helps to hold the plane at an angle as you make your cut. This produces a cut with a slicing action and reduces the chance of tearout.

After removing the tape, the edging will still be a hair proud. So now, I reach for my cabinet scraper. I use just the end of the scraper and push or pull it along the edge, see bottom drawing at left. To keep the scraper from gouging the wood, I use my index finger as a guide. Plus, I try to hold it level to keep the edging square.

Router & Flush Trim Bit. If there's lots of edging to trim, the quickest way is to use a router and a flush trim bit, see drawing at right. The flush trim bit leaves a nice clean edge. And once it's set up, all it takes is a single pass.

RouterThe only problem is trying to keep the router base from tipping. So I usually just clamp a straight piece of stock to the plywood for more support. (It should be at least 1-1/2" thick.) And you'll want to make a relief cut to clear the edging, as shown in the detail.

Finally, I lightly sand the edging to clean up any marks and to make sure the edging is flush over its entire length.

Have a great weekend,
Joel Hess

Online Editor, Woodsmith

P.S. I hope these tips on attaching hardwood edging will be helpful for your next project. From the suggestions I've received, I suspect a few of you have already learned these edging lessons from experience. I really appreciate the input -- that's the great thing about the woodworking community, so many of you are willing to pass on your knowledge to others. Some of you have even mentioned that you learned a lot of what you know from your dad.

My dad was a wood-pattern maker during his stint in the Navy, and even though he hasn't done much woodworking since then, I still have some of the lamps and boxes he made during his free time on ship. The skill with which they were made is obvious, and the craftsmanship is truly inspiring. I believe I got much of my passion for woodworking from him.
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