Pre-Glued Banding Versus a Glue-Pot Edgebander

Thoughts on the bond quality of pre-glued edgebanding, and tips on how to apply it. August 31, 2010

Does pre-glued edge band stay on or is it advisable to use a glue pot when fitting banding for cabinets? I always get a feeling that the pre-glued banding will peel off in time so I have never really tried it for any of my jobs so far, although it is far more convenient to use.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor M:
Are you talking about pre-glued melamine edge banding, the kind you put on with an iron?

From contributor G:
I have used the pre glued wood edge banding and I put it on with an iron. I have many jobs out there, as old as seven years now and have never had an instance where the banding has come loose. One you put a good film finish on it that makes it even more difficult to remove. I think the glue pot edge banding, if it has a higher melting point then the iron on would be a harder glue on.

From the original questioner:
I was asking about the heat activated glue. Some put it on with an iron but there are some heat guns adapted for applicators that are that are really quite affordable.

From contributor M:
The pre-glued is just as good as the bare tape with glue pot. The trick is getting the temperature right so the glue sticks completely. I've done it both with an iron and with a simple, cheap hairdryer-type heat gun. I've never used a heat gun which was made for this purpose, however. They might be worth the money, but you can get good at putting on tape no matter what tools you use.

Of course, the top dogs on this site swear by an actual edge banding machine. But they're expensive, take up floor space in a small shop, and take some time to set up for an edge banding run. They're most efficient for larger runs. The best tape is PVC which, as far as I know, doesn't come in pre-glued. It is much more durable than the melamine tape.

From contributor O:
I use PVC all the time and as I donít own an edgebander I use the old iron trick! It works but can be more time consuming than an edge banding machine! There are also inexpensive hot air edge banders but most donít like them. My understanding is they can be fussy and youíre using your own pressure to apply in any case so why not just use an iron. Clamp the work in a front vise (like I do) for extra support on large work pieces I use a box set on the floor.

For PVC banding use a cotton cloth under the iron or youíll melt the banding! You can apply Veneer banding directly with the iron. I usually go over the banding with a wood block to press the hot banding to the sub straight. I then let it cool a bit and then trim it using a block plane iron pressed flat against the surface of the work. This can be tricky on post forming. I have one of those trimmers but I donít care for it much. On veneer banding you must follow the grain so a double sided trimmer wonít work anyhow. Try a test piece if youíre concerned with the banding coming loose. The other plus is now youíre equipped to do banding on site if the need arises.

From contributor F:
As a guy that recently went from pre-glued to an actual glupot edge banding machine, you canít even compare pre-glued with a gluepot bond. Contributor M - go ahead and iron your tape on, leave a little tab, let it cool and then pull the tape off. It will come off relatively cleanly. Now find someone with a gluepot and do the same thing, the tape will pull chunks of wood off. The bond strength is incredible compared to the pre-glued stuff.

From contributor O:
Contributor F is right about the difference in bonding strength. I usually have to rip misaligned (not very often) banding off on the table saw because it won't peel off well enough to have banding go back over it. I purchased a Chesia ep-2s about a year ago and it has been a great purchase. It is very basic as it doesn't have any trimming capabilities but it is a glue pot machine and will do 1mm PVC. The 1mm isn't on the spec sheets but it works just fine on my machine. I've also banded laminate (feed as strips - time consuming but easier than applying them like laminate tops) without any problems. The footprint of this machine is slightly larger than my 12" jointer and it is on wheels so I can move it out to band larger panels.

From contributor P:
I have used a hot air bander for at least 15 years. The biggest problem is not the glue, but what kind of board you are applying the edgebanding to. Veneer core, and MDF work great. Particle board, with its rough grainy particulate core does not work as well with the thinner bead of glue on pre-glued edgeband. With particle board the gluepot machines put a thicker bead of glue on and it creates a better bond. The smooth core of MDF or Veneer plywood work very well with pre-glued hot air machines. I can run either of those through the machine, and if you try to peel it off, it does not come off but splits into little pieces. I do very little melamine or PVC edgeband. I have jobs that have held up for years with the hot air machine.

From contributor L:
The pre-glued melamine or veneer works fine. Do some practice panels to get the feel for it. The glue should squeeze out a little bit when it is hot enough. The problem is you can't see the back side of the banding until it's on but you can go back over it. If you get to the point that the GE iron is too slow go for a lower end glue pot machine. SCM makes some that are ok.