|Solid Wood Edging for Plywood
Recently, I was adding some
built-in shelves to my home, and I decided to use plywood. Using plywood saves
me the trouble of gluing up panels, and the runs were short enough (30") that I
knew the plywood wasnt going to sag much. However, as this wasnt a
utility room, I did want to cover the exposed plywood edges.
There are a
number of ways you can edge plywood from iron-on veneer to plastic
T-molding. But I generally have enough solid wood scraps lying around that I
dont need to buy edging. I just have to decide how to apply the narrow
strips to the edges.
The photo above shows three different methods
for attaching edging to plywood. You can glue it directly to the plywood, cut a
tongue and groove in the pieces, or use a spline to keep the pieces aligned.
GLUE ON. By far the simplest
method of installing edging (and the one I use most often) is to glue it
directly to the plywood, see drawing at right. I like to cut the edging
oversize so that it stands a little proud. This way, I dont have to worry
about getting the edges perfectly aligned when clamping the strips in place.
(It wants to slide around until you get the clamps tightened.) Later on, I can
trim the edging flush to the plywood.
This method works fine for shorter pieces. But
when youve got a longer piece of plywood, keeping the edges aligned can
get a little tricky (even with oversized strips). One way to get around this
problem is to nail the edging in place. (Note: Drill holes for the nails to
GROOVE. Another way to keep things aligned is to attach the edging with a
tongue and groove joint, see drawing at left. A tongue cut on the plywood edge
fits snugly into a groove cut in the edging. The length of the tongue
doesnt have to be very long (or the groove very deep) to keep things
aligned. But here again, I like to size the edging so it stands proud of the
plywood so the edges can be trimmed flush.
SPLINE & GROOVE. Theres
actually a quicker way to do basically the same thing if you have a
router and a slot cutter bit. This time, though youll make two grooves
and add a spline, see drawing below right.
To create the grooves, I use the slot cutter in
my router table. Just make sure the top face of both the edging and the plywood
are face down on the table. This way, the two grooves will align. (You might
want to use a feather board to keep the thin strips tight to the table.)
For the splines, I like to use
hardboard. Its uniform thickness makes it easier to fit the spline into the grooves.
So all you have to do is rip the splines to width to fit the grooves.