Woodworking Tips
Woodworking Tips Index
Attaching Wood Edging to Plywood

LAST WEEK'S TIP. Last week, I suggested three different ways to hide the edges of a plywood panel with solid wood edging. To read the tip, Click here.  
Last week's tip dealt with different ways to attach solid wood edging to plywood. (To see this tip, click here.) But deciding how to align the edging is only the first step. You also have to glue and clamp the edging to the plywood with even clamping pressure so you don't end up with any gaps. Easier said than done. Some plywood panels are pretty large, requiring long clamps or lots of them. So here are a few tips I've found helpful.

Gluing. When I glue a strip of edging to plywood, I like to use yellow glue. It has a shorter working time, so it sets up quickly, which helps keep the edging from sliding around.

I also use a small brush to spread the glue on both the plywood and the edging. It helps to get a uniform coat for good adhesion. I've never had much luck with foam brushes because they tend to snag on the plywood edges. Instead, I use an inexpensive bristle brush. It carries a lot of glue and spreads it pretty evenly. Plus, you can rinse it out with water and use it again.

Also, I usually like to apply two coats of glue to the plywood edge. The end grain on the plywood absorbs glue like a sponge. So I let the first coat soak in and then quickly come back with another light coat.

Clamping. After the glue is applied, the edging

gets clamped in place. Clamping is a numbers game. The more you can use the better. Ideally, I'd put a clamp every six inches or so. Unfortunately, that would take a lot of clamps for some of my larger projects.

But there are other ways to clamp edging without buying a wall full of clamps. One method uses a caul (a board with a slight bow across its length), see drawing at right. By clamping each end of the caul, the bowed center forces the center section of edging against the plywood so there are no gaps.

Another method uses a board and a handful of wedges, see drawing at left. Opposing wedges are pushed under a scrap board to apply pressure to the edging. You can use as many wedges as you need to exert equal pressure, as long as you don't spread the clamps out too far. Usually two or three wedges for every 18" span works best. This is also a good way to put pressure on a stubborn area that you can't get to stick.

But what if your clamps are too short? This is often the case when gluing edging to the top or bottom of a long panel. If your longest clamps are too short, simply clamp a board to the plywood as an anchor, see drawing at right. This anchor will allow you to use shorter clamps and still get good results.
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