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For a normal hardwood desk/table top, if you band the edges with a strip of wood, it will not cope well with wood movement. Particle board doesn't suffer from this problem unless you get it wet, at which point you have bigger issues. What about plywood, can you apply edge banding without worrying about it separating from panel?

  • I'm open to suggestions on the title ... having trouble wording it so it's not open ended. – Daniel B. Apr 5 '15 at 23:10
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    Maybe "Is wood movement an issue with edge banded plywood?" – martineau Aug 18 '16 at 11:54
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Plywood is more dimensionally stable so yes, edge banding works as well or better on ply than on particleboard / chipboard.

Edge banding is almost synonymous with plywood construction; woodworking guides going back to the 50s and possibly earlier talk about hiding the "unsightly" edges.

There are other methods that can be used to hide the edge of plywood that are worth considering as an option to conventional edge banding:

Plywood edge treatments

(Source: 1955 Fir Plywood Association handbook)

Where you aren't using iron-on edging you need some way to clamp the edge successfully. They make specialised edge-clamping C-clamps for just this purpose, but these two homemade alternatives work just was well:

Edge clamping options

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I edge band plywood for everything except cabinets for the shop. I have used the heat sensitive, iron on banding as well as shop made, glue on banding. Both work well. The iron on banding is not as durable as the shop made stuff, but it is much easier.

For trimming the heat sensitive banding, I use the cutter from FastCap. For trimming the thicker shop made stuff, I use a router in a table with a high fence and a trim bit.

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Plywood essentially doesn't move with humidity changes. Solid edge banding may, but the motion would be across the grain, so if the grain runs along the edge (as is usual) the change is a small percentage of a small distance and doesn't produce enough force to bother the glue. So, yes, this is a good and common technique.

If you are making shelves or similar, note that the edge banding doesn't have to be flush with the plywood. Letting it extend down a bit is a simple way to give more "visual weight" to thin material.

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