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Hot Air Edge Banding

I used to be a big fan the cheap hot air edgebanders. My tune has changed since getting a real bander and seeing how melamine/polyester banding looks over time. These days, I would only recommend them for real wood veneer banding of parts that are going to get finished. I keep mine around for the occasional contour (e.g. corbels)


Endbore JigThe first and most obvious is table size. Putting the bander under an 8' top makes banding 8' and even 10' stock an easy task. The workbench fences are related to the boring machine workbench (next to the bander) and are not necessary for the bander. You may have noticed the left bander fence is not in place. I removed it to band some corbels and never put it back (it also is not necessary). If I did it again I would make sure the back counter was thinner than the front by at least 1/8" to allow for the tape overhang when banding irregular shapes (like corbels).

I have made some modifications to the machine which I am going to preface with the disclaimerthat these are potentially dangerous, don't do any modifications unless you know what you are doing and accept all responsibility for the results. Things I have done include:

  • Bypassing the temperature knob so the temp is always at max.
  • Truing the silicone roller for much nicer results. I cannot remember how I did this. I did it in place probably using a hole saw in a drill to spin it and sticky back sandpaper on something like a 3 x 3 x 12 squared piece of wood.
  • Reshaped the air nozzle and fastened it up tight against the guide to focus more heat on 3/4 banding.
  • Turned the left guide clockwise so when the roll gets small its easier for the tape to go from guide to guide (the curling tendency tries to prevent this)
  • Moved the left guide assembly forward to try and keep the melted glue from dragging on the guide. I did it mainly to help the heavy wood banding (stiff) but melamine/poly is better for it as well. I moved it forward about 1/4" and don't think much more is possible. The angle of the assembly is clockwise of the factory set position. You will have to play with the angles of both assembly to get the best feed in the most situations.

There is a close up picture that should help in visualizing the above modifications. I have not seen the other makes but they look very similar to my Freud. Again I should note that most of my modifications are increasing heat to the banding and while I have never seen flames the potential exists. The whole idea is to be able to run stuff trough at a reasonable pace and I have had banding bubble and turn brown when it sat in one place to long.

Polyester and Melamine

I've run thousands of feet of melamine with pretty darn good results. Unless you take care to clean up the edges of melamine/polyester edge tapethey will be prone to chipping. I used to use a two sided trimmer but found it hard to set up and that the bevel blades do not hold up very long. It is also easy to get a little hotmelt on the face of the cutters which holds the blades out. I found that a utility knife and a file work best. I use a fixed blade utility knife and keep the same blade for a long time as it actually works better a little dull. Work with it as the trick is in the pressure and angles. Keep it flat on the board and use the inside edge of the blade to cut the tape (see image). With the file I use the bastard side and make two passes one at 45 deg. and one at approx. 15 deg. from the face. This later one actually hits the face of the melamine, you can hear/feel it if you do it right. You do not want to file the melamine just make sure the tape is dead flush with the melamine so that nothing can hook it. Try different files. I started cautious and found thecoarser file much quicker with results just as good. I did notice on my current project I came back with the fine file to kind of polish things and I did actually file the melamine a little which at least on the black doesn't show up.


The way I have been banding is talked about below but I happened to try the standard wood tape which I had said: "I always got frustrated with the thin stuff getting to flexible to stand upright and track properly." I happened to have a bit of maple left and decided to run a few feet. It both tracked fine and trimmed well with the 2x Virutex trimmer. This needs further testing. This would make wood edging melamine a snap. Prefinished might make it an even better deal (something else I didn't know of and need to try). Cost is so often a consideration. The heavy wood tape is more expensive material and labor wise but I really prefer the ability to have a slightly eased edge.

For real wood banding I recommend only the heavyweight banding. Unfortunately I don't think it is very widely available. It is called something like 'back and sanded' and is made by Woodtape (if someone asks I'll get the details). It is not a 'premium grade' in that it has splices and is not sanded very smooth on the face. The advantages are that it tracks well in the bander and you can use a 1/16" radius on it. As with melamine/polyester banding the trimmers I have tried have not worked very well. The utility knife does not work very well here either as it will try to follow the grain no matter how you try. I took a refresher course recently to remind myself that it doesn't work. I use a 1/16" roundover bit in an offset base laminate router and take two passes. The first pass is done with the router base sitting on the edge banding and removes most of the excess banding. At this point you have a few options but I usually trim off the little flap of backing that remains carefully using the utility knife and then take another pass with the router on the face of the stock being banded. I try to save my sanding until last but you could clean up whatever the first pass of your router left with a quick sanding then take your second pass. You could also use a straight bit for the first cut but will need to careful that you don't rock and overcut. It should be noted that this isn't the neatest way to trim banding but I have found nothing more consistent and problem free, the nice consistent eased edge is an added bonus.


I have been saying the following about PVC banding with a hot air bander:
>Unfortunately the small shop cannot edge band PVC without a glue pot
>bander as PVC will melt with an iron or hot air bander. The later
>*might* be possible but I was never able to chase down the one
>manufacturer that was (I think past tense) making pre glued PVC.

Well it turns out that just about the time I gave up Woodtape was starting to make preglued PVC. I have done some experimenting and it will kind of work with the heat gun type table banders. I do not get the same quality of bond as with a gluepot bander and in my opinion it is just not good enough. It also does melt quite easily and needs to be just on the edge of melting to get any resemblance of a decent bond. There are other types of hot air banders that might work better. One that you can get a video of is the Rak Omer (approx $2,000 from Laguna Tools) which has a powered roller that will make the feed rate consistent (important with PVC). The hot air nozzle location,focusing and use of compressed air may make it more effective. I think with the heat gun type there is to much hot air going all over which heats the PVC to melting point before the glue really melts. Since the nozzle on the Rak Omer comes after the tape guides it would seem that less heat will make its way to the backside thus being more effective in heating just the hot melt. It may also heat the board a bit which would aid in getting a good bond. I think I would prefer a used manual gluepot bander over this alternative (see Exfactory for some possibilities). You might also be interested in the note I got with my sample roll.

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CNC Edge Banding Machine
Posted by Leon Black on Friday, 15-Nov-2019

Edgebanding machine contains the processes of: pre-milling, spray anti-glue coating agent, preheating of the plate, pressure sealing and cutting, front and rear cutting and roughing up and down, scratch repair and polishing.

For fast and large quantity of edgebanding work, an CNC edgebander is a good choice.

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