I'm building a bunch of cabinets out of 3/4" plywood. The corners are beveled so there's no ugly plywood "end grain" showing in the joints.

While the joint looks fantastic, I'm concerned that the thin plywood veneer will dent and deform easily on this corner. Since it's veneered plywood, I also can't round the corner at all to discourage denting. What is the best way to protect this corner?

Will varnish or some other sort of finish help? Perhaps one of those clear plastic "sheet rock corner" protectors? Or, am I overreacting, and just need to accept that dents will happen?

  • Are you willing to inlay a hardwood strip in the corner? Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 18:19
  • I like the idea of using hardwoods on the sides/corners, but for this question, I'm curious how I can accomplish the described goal without complicating the actual woodworking.
    – rinogo
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 22:00

4 Answers 4


Perhaps the most common solution is to build hardwood face frames for your cabinets. The face frame conceals and protects the edge of the plywood.

If your cabinets are already built, a film finish will help protect against damage, but may not hold up to seasonal movement over time along the mitered joints. Personally I wouldn't bother with the clear plastic corner protectors because I think they're ugly. I would install hardwood trim around the corners instead.

  • I like the idea of using hardwoods on the sides/corners, but for this question, I'm curious how I can accomplish the described goal without complicating the actual woodworking. Any other thoughts? Thank you, by the way! :)
    – rinogo
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 22:01
  • Also, you mentioned the seasonal movement on the beveled joints. Am I better off (in terms of seasonal movement and corner durability) just doing a butt joint with iron-on edge banding?
    – rinogo
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 22:03
  • Ok, I'm overdoing it with the comments here, but you've inspired a lot of thought. :) When you mention "hardwood trim", are you referring to actually using hardwood for the corners of the cabinet? Or, just taking some very thin hardwood stock and pinning it to the edge? I've seen that approach used before; I suppose it could be a decent solution. I also wouldn't need to use the beveled edge joint, and could just do a butt joint since it wouldn't show.
    – rinogo
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 22:06
  • @rinogo yes, I meant making pieces of veneer or molding and putting it around the corners. It would be similar to the clear plastic corner protectors, but made of wood. You could rabbet the edges of the plywood for a recessed fit, or just put it around the outside of the corner.
    – rob
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 2:26

By beveled, do you actually mean mitered? You could use a little cleat of hardwood, which is something you can even do after you've already assembled the cabinets. (with plywood, biscuits are possibly not necessary, although personally, I'd probably use anyway).

Here's a picture of what I'm suggesting: hardwood edging

(picture from 12 ways to build cabinets faster and better with biscuits)


One way that I have used for this is to just use overlap corner joints for the plywood. This type of joint covers one raw edge of the plywood. On the other piece that is left with the raw edge showing I've glued on a thin strip of solid wood of the same type as the nice face of the plywood.

The thickness that works nicely for this is 1/8 inch. There are many options of how the corner is actually formed that depends just exactly what you are building. Here are some ideas of how the corner joints can be constructed to give different style looks.

enter image description here


Another solution is to design real-wood edging into the piece, to cover the plywood edge. This can range from veneer tape (edgebanding) to a piece of hardwood chosen to match the color and thickness of the ply and glued tightly to it -- or may be thicker, shelf edging often extend below the shelf both to stiffen the shelf and to make it look more substantial.

My quick-and-sloppy student cd racks had off-the-shelf half-round moldings slapped onto the exposed ply edges with no effort to disguise what had been done. (I wasn't exactly using the most attractive ply either; if i'd really cared i'd have considered those strictly "paint grade").

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