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There are different techniques for finishing the exposed edges of plywood, but one of the easiest and best-looking methods is to use edge banding. This real wood veneer is made into a flexible tape backed with a heat activated adhesive, and it’s sized to fit a 3/4” thick plywood edge. Edge banding can be stained and finished like any other wood.
To adhere the edge band, press it firmly against the work piece with an ordinary clothes iron set on medium. The iron’s heat melts the glue, adhering the band to the wood.
Remove the heat and use a roller to apply pressure to the edge. This insures that the melted adhesive has a tight grip as it sets up.
The edge band comes slightly oversized, so a small amount needs to be trimmed off. Use an edge band trimmer and run it along the edge to trim it flush.
Plywood joinery also typically needs reinforcement. A butt joint -- one piece of wood butted up to the other (Image 1) -- is a weak joint, but it can be strengthened by adding dowels.
The first step is to drill properly sized, properly placed holes for the dowels. The holes on both sides of the joint must line up properly. You can measure each hole, a tedious and undependable process, or buy one of many available doweling jigs, or you can make your own jig from wood or aluminum (Image 2).
Place the jig where you want one work piece to line up with the other and drill the holes.
Move the jig to the mating piece and clamp it in place, then drill holes into the plywood edge (Image 1).
To make sure the holes are a uniform depth, place a piece of masking tape on the drill bit as a depth indicator.
Place dowels in the holes and test fit the pieces. Check that the joints line up and the pieces fit snugly together (Image 2).
To finish this process, apply a small amount of wood glue into the dowel holes and clamp the pieces together.