Shopping for an Edgebander

Here's some detailed advice on how to choose the right edgebander for your volume and style of production. January 1, 2012

I am in the market for a line boring machine and an edgebander and I don't know much about either. I have a two man shop so we don't need big production machines. I'm thinking Delta's 13 spindle machine or the conquest. As far as the edge bander goes, I will only be banding cabinet shelves.

I was looking at a Rockler but figure that I needed something a little better than that. I don't want to spend 8 or 10 grand on a machine for banding shelves. I wouldn't care to spend 1k or 2k, maybe. I just don't know enough about these machines to buy one. I'm not even sure how you get the line boring machine lined up to drill the holes.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
I had put together a guide some time ago to help people who are looking into edgebanders and don't want someone to sell them on something. I have 17 years of technical and service training behind me and have been fortunate to have worked for many of the leading manufactures. From what I see from your above posting, I would recommend you locate someone local that has a machine and see if you can buy some time or pay them to do it.

If you don't know of any, you can ask your hardware or panel suppliers. If you have a good relationship with one of their salespersons, ask them for some names. The smaller machines are not much better than a clothes iron and pre-glued tape, and any machine that is 1-2K is either too small or worn out. In regards to the line boring machines, something to ask when buying one is what type of construction the gear head uses. For some time there were a few that used plastic gear to eliminate the need of special lubes and to cut cost. You will want to know this.

From the original questioner:
The reason for not wanting to invest a great deal on the machine is we only put out about one kitchen every couple of weeks. I build faceframe cabinets so I would only be banding the shelves. I'm thinking more and more that one of these little bench top edgebanders will work since itís only going to be 15-20 shelves every couple of weeks.

From contributor W:

A two man shop and two kitchens a month is good potatoes! I purchased the Delta 13 spindle (automatic, worth the difference) and a brand new Brandt kd 54 in 01, and it was a struggle to understand paying for the bander, yet it has been one of the wisest investments I ever made. Don't cut yourself too short on a bander. The bander and my CNC machines have been the tools with the most profitable growth curve.

From contributor R:
I strongly recommend a bander from Virutex. I have a hot air bander from them that has run hundreds of kitchens (frameless so everything is banded not just the shelves) and never had a problem with adhesion or speed. People who bad talk these small machines have either bought only the small model you spoke about, or they bought the wrong banding for the hot air bander. If you go hot air you need to order from someone who puts their own glue on the banding. Make sure you get the trimmer on any model from them, but personally I took off the feeder.

From contributor J:
Iíve been there and done that. An iron is just as fast. If itís just for shelves, you may be able to buy ripped pieces that are already banded. I know my supplier carries 12" wide and 24" wide a 96" pieces that are banded down the length, so you just trim it to length. You could also buy your sheets, rip them in to the appropriate widths and find a local shop with a bander to do it for you. Then you just cut them to length. Just keep an inventory of two months worth or something so you only need it done six times a year or so.

If you are set on buying a machine and doing this in house, the very minimum would be one of the hot air units that self feed and trim as mentioned. For 15 or 20 shelves, I would probably just stick with an iron. Iím guessing it only takes about an hour to do that many by hand. A glue pot bander is going to take about 15 minutes to warm up, then about five or ten minutes to run the 15 or 20 shelves through. If you have any plans to do frameless, look for a real machine - Brandt, SCM, Holz-Her, etc. As for the boring machine, the biggest pain is indexing the panel to continue the row of holes. I would look for a single row 23 spindle at the bare minimum, with the ideal machine being a double row having at least 23 spindles per row.

From contributor A:
I was in your position about 11 years ago. I ended up buying a small bench top air bander from WoodWorkers Supply. We are a face frame only shop as well. I bought the bander when we switched to prefinished ply. It works great and itís very fast. No more mistakes with the iron. It's a better machine than the Freud. About six years ago I bought the Conquest 13. Itís a well made machine and very accurate - worth the extra money over the Delta. I like it better than the 7 hole Blum boring machine head. However, at this point in history I would look around and find a used pneumatic clamp machine.

From contributor Z:
A good 23 spindle machine will set you back 2K for sure. You will never regret it. Front and back holes are bored together and bookshelves take seconds for an 8 foot panel. Both rows are adjustable and the back row can be used for drawer slides. No more measuring and squaring.

From contributor N:
I am a one man shop that was in your position four years ago. I was banding with an iron and moved to the manual Freud hot air bander. Huge difference in productivity, and the ability to use PVC preglued was great (not heating through the tape, just the glue). That said I very recently bought a used automatic edgebander and it is working great too - and obviously faster than hot air. I would recommend the Freud for shelves, if anything to function as a backup when you get the bigger machine.

Four years ago I bought the delta manual line boring machine and can say that it is much faster and does better quality than drill press/jig that I was using. That said, I feel the only real step up from there (in productivity) would be double line boring. Save your money for a double line or get a less expensive Delta. As always, aligning these machines are extremely important, as are insuring your saw is outputting square parts (less of an issue on DBL line machine). I have great luck with the registration pins too.