Breaking Edges

If you’ve worked with melamine or veneered sheet goods before, you are likely to have had to deal with the heat-activated, pre-glued edging to disguise the cut edge.  There is a wide range of prepared edging – melamine obviously, but also wood veneers, such as pine.  Some you have to apply glue, but quite a convenient (especially for the occasional user) form is those with the glue already applied, which is activated with heat.  I have an old iron in the workshop specifically for this purpose.

Pre-glued edging to be applied

It is always worth being generous with the amount of overhang allowed for at either end.  No matter how carefully the edge of the banding is lined up with the edge of the board, it slips so easily along as it is ironed down, so allowing some extra for this is worth saving a whole heap of grief.

Edging ironed on, with overhang

The edging is typically 1-2mm oversize as well for the thickness of the board, and this excess is trimmed off.

Paring off the overhang

There are a number of tools to help accurately remove the resulting side overhang, but I haven’t gotten around to getting one – not working with laminated materials enough.  Instead, I use a heavy plane blade, and a downward shearing action to cut the overhang off as precisely as I can.  Melamine is sharp when bought to a point, and especially if the cut isn’t perfectly clean there could still be some tiny overhangs that can either feel sharp, or worse catch, causing a chip.  When I first came across the concept of a tool that breaks the edge, not only was it intriguing, but I had the impression that a 45 degree chamfer would result in the core material being seen.  Turns out that I didn’t take into account the minimal amount of material the tool would remove.

Breaking the corner

The tool I was using is the FastBreak XL, sold in Australia by Professional Woodworkers Supplies. It is a pretty simple, and effective concept.  A piece of fine grit sandpaper mounted at 90 degrees, so that both edges are sanded at the same time, at 45 degrees.

Working surfaces

Spare sandpaper is stored behind the end cap, secured with the brass knurled knobs.

Resulting corner

The photo doesn’t show up the resulting edge very well, but one thing is immediately obvious, even with a good amount of sanding the core has not been revealed.  The edge feels smooth, even slightly radiused to the touch (guess it depends on how you use the tool).

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