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How to Make Plywood Look like Solid Wood

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Plywood is one of our favorite inexpensive ways to DIY furniture, shelving and desks. Here’s how we take our inexpensive project and make it look like high-end solid wood.

Our most recent plywood project was this custom floating desk in our son’s bedroom closet makeover. We removed the framing and added in a couple PAX wardrobe units while utilizing the remaining space to create a desk nook with storage.

The desk was created by gluing two pieces of 1/2″ plywood together to create a thicker desktop. The key to making this look like a high-end piece of solid wood is veneer edge banding.

What is Edge Banding?

Edge banding is a thin layer of wood slices that comes is various thicknesses and width. Depending on the project and how it will be finished you can find veneer edge banding finished or unfinished.

Veneer edge banding is used to cover exposed sides of plywood to create a finish look but also protect plywood from possible warping.

How to Apply Edge Banding

Edge banding comes in a roll with adhesive on the back. You can use a regular household iron to active the adhesive and apply your edge banding.

You will need an edge banding trimmer or flat blade along with the iron to apply the banding.

Heat up your iron to the hottest setting [without steam]. Start at one end and slowly rub the iron over your edge banding so that it adheres to the plywood edge. Continue running the iron down your banding.

Once the banding is on, roll a screw driver or your fingers down the banding, pressing firmly as it cools.

Using your trimmer, remove the excess edge banding. Sand smooth and then finish with either stain or paint.

Here is the before and after with edge banding. Now it looks like a solid piece of wood instead of two pieces of joined plywood!