How To Trim Edge Banding with Oscillating Tool

I’ve always loathed trimming edge banding. The existing methods were generally good, but had annoyances.

The Rigid Scraper Attachment

I was looking around the garage for some other means of getting the job done, and I saw the rigid scraper attachment. 

I gave it a whirl.

It was fantastic.

The direction of blade oscillation eliminates many of the annoyances from other methods. And, the blade geometry leads to safe cuts without risk of gouging the wood. 

Just let the back of the blade sit flat on the sheet stock and you’ll completely avoid gouging.

Pre-Response to Other Methods

Inevitably, when I publish a new way to do something, people enlighten me with the typical methods. Therefore, I’ll list some alternatives and give my (sometimes minor) reason for searching for another way.)

There are several already-great solutions out there:

  • Router & flush trim bit: I get annoyed by all the sharpish chips that shoot off when trimming melamine edge banding. Also, for thinner boards, you’ve gotta pre-trim the edge banding to be close to the surface, else you get some larger chips and tearout of the edge banding.
  • Sharp chisel: Great solution if you keep your chisels sharp. IMO this is a very great method.
  • Block plane: Great if you keep your block plane tuned and sharp.
  • Cheap trimming tools: These simply don’t work very well, especially as they age and get dull.
  • Utility knife: My quick go-to before the oscillating tool. Wood grain can catch and pull it too deep.

The Oscillating Tool Method 

This technique, using the oscillating tool, is my preference that I have found to be:

  • More convenient
  • Low-risk – back of blade keeps it level and prevents gouging.
  • Low-risk: direction of oscillation doesn’t try to lift wood fibers.
  • Low-mess – no chips
  • Fast – No prep work necessary. Always ready to go. No need to sharpen the blade.

It’s pretty straightforward, and I’ll outline the steps & tips below.

Tools

You probably already have an oscillating tool, but here are the items used in this Instructable & video:​

Though probably unnecessary…and perhaps frivolous, I’ve found a battery-powered oscillating tool with a quick-release blade lever to be a game-changer when doing remodeling projects.  I have and love the ​Makita LXT.  But, get one that matches your tool lineup, or be a responsible human and be content with a corded one.  

Trim & Sand

Trimming doesn’t throw chips or shavings everywhere (in contrast to a flush trim bit), and that’s pretty sweet.  It comes off in one clean line.  

Guiding Principles / Techniques:

  • Keep the bottom of the blade flat on the work piece.  Always.  
  • Don’t push the edge banding outwards.  I explain and show this in ​the video.  You might as well make friends with the glue that’s holding the edge banding on.  

​Finish with some quick sanding:

To quickly finalize this, use a sanding block to create a small micro-bevel and even things out.  Tips:

  • Stick some sandpaper to a flat block of wood at least 8″ long.
  • I have and love this seemingly everlasting roll of sticky-back 120-grit sandpaper
  • Make a quick pass at a ~10 degree angle to smooth it. 
  • Make a quick pass at a ~45 degree angel to make a small micro-bevel.

This process is quick and simpler than text makes it sound.  Be sure to check out that ​video. ​

Clean the Gum Off Your Blade

​The glue will cause your blade to get gummed up.  It’s quick and easy to clean.

Since the bottom of the scraper is used as a reference surface, it’s important to keep the bottom of the scraper flat…which means no glue.  Else you’ll be tempted to angle it downwards and risk gouging your project.

Scrape it off:

I use a chisel to scrape it off.  It works well when the blade is on, but be sure you observe the direction of the blade travel, and orient your chisel so the sides of the blade don’t catch it.  See ​the video where I show this.  If uncomfortable, just manually scrape it off.  

Done!

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