Relationships with Edgebanders

No two ways about it, edgebanders are temperamental. Here's an extended discussion on getting through the working day with your useful but finicky mechanical partner. December 7, 2007

I hate edgebanders. You never quite know what you're going to get when you arrive at the shop in the morning. I am currently the proud owner of a Brandt edgebander that is so old the parts are unobtainable and service is a joke. It's 27 years old. It is time to move on and I am looking for a newer model.

Basic shop info:
1. Eight man shop total two outside.
2. CNC router runs about an hour a day.
3. Edgebander runs about an hour a day.
4. 90% PVC and natural wood tape.
5. Euro and face frame construction.

Im looking at Brandt, Biesse, and SCMI ($25K - $28K). Anyone have good or bad experiences with these? My old Brandt has both a scraper and a buffer, and neither work anymore. What does each of these do best? Many of the models in my price range come with only one of these as an upgrade option. Im trying to decide which would be best for me. Someone told be to be mindful of the guillotine mechanism. Is this really a concern, and why? We rarely use 3mm tape or strip. How about the size of the motors? Does size really matter here?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor R:
You are going to pay about 5k extra for the 3mm capacity. If you are not going to use it, don't buy it. I am partial to the SCMI only because I own one. The k208 would be a perfect fit for what you describe. Whatever brand you go with, get the high frequency motors. They never wear out.

Now, you have an 8 man shop and you only use the CNC for 1 hour a day? You are literally throwing money away.

From contributor L:
We've got a 13 year old IDM49 bander that continues to be good to me most of the time. I think I've learned about every trick a bander can throw at me by now. We have both scrape and buff and I like both. If I had to choose one it would be the scraper. By just flipping the control panel switch, you can put enough ease on PVC that you don't need to do any handwork. The buffers will improve the feel enough to be noticeable. We run ours fairly aggressively to sort of polish the edge. Banders are great machines, but have a lot of moving parts, switches, relays, etc. Still, I wouldn't be without one. I just bought a used IDM58 with corner rounding, hoping to reduce the hand labor of finishing the corners. The IDM49 will be for sale as soon as the 58 is up and running.

From contributor C:
All the brands you listed have pros and cons. By the way, you left one off the list - starts with "H". As others have said, a bander is a complicated machine. I would add local support and service to your search factors. The importance of a good technician for setup and support should be considered. Take a trip to Vegas next month and do a side by side comparison.

From contributor R:
Right on - if you buy a new machine, make sure you have a company that can service what they sell. And you should look at Holz-Her as well.

From contributor J:
We have an edgebander that applies 3mm PVC that's made by one of the companies mentioned. It never runs without some problem. It's as if it's inhibited or possessed, or it has gremlins living inside it.

From contributor H:
I know that edgebanders are tricky little vixens, but I do find it a little funny that you are complaining that your 27 year old edgebander is giving you problems. Good luck in your quest for a new bander. I hope it lasts you another 27 years.

From contributor R:
Contributor J, there is no reason for you to be having trouble like that if it is a fairly new machine. If it is an older machine, okay. If it is a newer machine, you need to get a tech out there that can help out. More than likely, if you have constant problems, then it is a maintenance or operator problem. If the trimmers are not set up properly or if certain lock bolts are not tight or you have too much moisture in your air supply, then you will have constant problems. There is an independent SCMI tech out of Atlanta named Jesse Cole who can solve just about any problem with these machines that you can think of.

From contributor Z:
I have an ep-9 Cehisa with plc control. It is a dream. It is more than you need for regular PVC or wood tape. The buffing and scraping are only for 3mm and you can save a lot by not buying these stations. I have only changed one heating element in 3 years and have never touched any of the controls or digital adjustments in that time and I do switch back and forth between the 3mm and regular tape quite often. The plc control does this automatically, so there is no need to fiddle under the hood. The most important thing to always remember is dust collection for banders, and daily cleaning. I clean the glue pot once a year when I close for holidays.

From contributor U:
We have a Biesse Lato 38 and run the hell out of it. Support is awesome; parts and quality of end product are incredible. Our Lato 38 does not have a scraper - it has finishers, buffer, 3mm, plc control, capability of changing angle on end trimmers, through plc. Our bander is a dream. I'll second all of contributor H's comments and add a few. Buy the best glue - don't skimp. Keep the bander clean. Buy a shop vac that sits near it, and get a low volume blow gun designated for the bander only and leave it hooked to air. Make absolutely sure you are using the absolute minimal amount of glue needed to hold the tape - no more! Too much glue creates problems.

From contributor N:
I've never run tape on my Cehisa EP-10, ever. I ran solid wood for years when we made office furniture. I haven't used the machine in quite awhile and since I started using more and more tape lately, I fired her up, even thought it's set up for solid strips. It does a great job with wood tape, even with glue in the glue pot that's at least 8 years old. Now if I can find that steel bar that holds the round tape table, I'll be in heaven. Never even used the guillotine, and it works great.

Holz-Her comes highly recommended by a friend that has one.

From contributor S:
I have a 3mm machine with scraping, buffing, and hi-freq motors that has a name brand manufacturer plate and serial number, but a Mini-Max decal. Damn near identical to a K201HFE. 3mm is the max capacity. The guillotine is beefed up for 3mm and switchable for thin PVC. If you run 3mm, make sure the guillotine is made for 3mm. We run 1200 ft per week. Have had only a couple of little things break - the copy wheel and the spring on the guillotine. Couple of spare parts (from Mini-max or SCMI) in the drawer, and you are set. Saved $5k over the one with the SCMI decals. Doesn't sound like you need anything bigger (and more expensive). Last I checked, they were about $25k. Nothing better for the price.

P.S. Dust extraction is a must.

From contributor J:
It's a less than 10 year old machine that has been serviced and adjusted by at least four company techs. The problem with this machine is that it was a lemon on the day they built it.

From contributor Q:
I am a woodworker in N. CA. I love my Castle Equalizer edgebander. Only $4000! Yes, you have to trim by hand, but I can run and trim a cabinet side in the same amount of time as a 25K machine. It is a simple, well-engineered machine that can find a place in any woodshop. I think that the frugal owner should give it a real look.

From contributor K:
If the Brandt that you have now lasted 27 years, I would get another Brandt! That is what I have, 3mm capable, KD77. Only thing I wish is that the buffing wheels oscillated. They wear and need constant adjustment.

From contributor N:
Well, I got my old Cehisa ep10 running tape (the machine has never run tape since the 80's - just solid wood strips). I even found the hardware needed for rolls of tape, extra wheels, etc. I still have some tweaking to do. But it does a great job, way better than an iron, and at least as good as most expensive banders. If I didn't have a bander, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a used Cehisa, if it was in good condition, for banding wood tape. I saw that a large machinery dealer in Portland had a good condition Cehisa ep20 for sale for $4000 or so, and Barbo had the same model a few months ago for $2500. A shop looking for an overbuilt bander could do well buying a used machine (one that's checked out from a legit dealer or mech) I don't hate my bander anymore, now that I'm not running wood strips through it - tape is easy.

From contributor J:
What is "wood tape?" Is that something that you use to hold pieces of wood together?

From contributor Y:
I second (or third) the comment about used machines being a good deal if you're willing to invest a little TLC. I picked up an '86 Brandt that has it all. Does everything from tape to 3/4 x 2.5" thick edging for drop lip shelves, a decent guillotine for up to 3mm, buffing, scraping, hi freq motors, even a monster oscillating face-sanding attachment that sands the exposed edge of the banding after it's gone through everything else. All for $5K. For the money it's been a lifesaver.

From contributor N:
Wood tape is what frameless guys make their face frames out of. Not a lot of strength in the joints, but it seems to work out somehow.

From contributor A:
If you can, go to Vegas next month and look at all of them. I went to Atlanta and asked each one to run a sample. At the hotel that night, I looked at all the samples that were run. I was amazed at the differences between the machines. I found a 10K hot air that did as good as all but one of the 25K machines. IIRC, the top of the heap was the EP-9 or 10. I figured the techs had the machines at Atlanta running as good as they will run.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all of the responses. I do think it is pretty amazing this thing has lasted so long, but it has finally died its last death.

Those of you suggesting the Holz-her - no thanks, used to have one, nice machine, hate the glue system. Those of you suggesting used machines, I disagree. Banders only have about ten years service life without major issues and I hate fiddling with them. Old is out. About dust collection, not a problem - I got a big sucker. As for air supply quality, not a problem - I got a big dryer and filter.

Lastly, the SCMI is now out. The Biesse rep and the Brandt rep came right out when I called them and told them it was finally time to buy a new bander. The SCMI guy made an appointment and never showed or called. In addition, I have since learned from his competition (probably not what he would like to hear) that the comparable SCMI only has a single trim motor and still uses the mechanical limit switches to time the cuts, etc. It's now down to whose financing is better, Biesse or Brandt.

From contributor Z:
Before I got my Cehisa, I also hated banders. As I said previously, with the PLC control, the fiddling around is resolved and with daily 10 minutes of cleaning, you rarely have to go under the hood.

From contributor P:
We recently purchased our first bander, a Brandt KDN 330 for $28,000. It's simple and accurate. No problems to report. Has a buffing station which is used for PVC edgebanding. When using wood tape, we do not use the buffer, just the top, bottom and end trimmers. It will run up to 3mm including solid wood. We mostly use .5mm wood and PVC.