Review By Dean Bielanowski  Timbecon Website - http://www.timbecon.com.au


Torquata ET-100 Double Edge Trimmer
 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

Edge banding (supplied in rolls of various types and species) is usually applied to exposed edges of sheet materials used in construction to either protect the exposed edges from water or other damage, or to dress up a cut edge to make it appear uniform with other faces of the material. It can also be used to hide the evidence that a man-made material was used, i.e. veneered MDF or particle board sheets. I mostly use it when working with laminated particle board sheets to protect the cut, exposed edges from water damage.

If you are planning to undertake some projects requiring edge banding, or if you have done edge banding before, you will probably know how tricky it is to neatly trim the excess banding overlapping the edge without a specific trimming tool. You can use a sharp stanley knife with success, but this takes a little practice, and if you need a nice clean edge that will be seen easily by others, you at least want to make it look presentable and neat, not like something took revenge on your woodwork and hacked away at the edge. You can buy powered edge trimmers which are, essentially, small routers with dedicated edge trimming bits, but these also can be tricky to use for the new user and can be quite costly.

Enter the manual edge trimmer. There is a lot of debate online as to how well these trimmers work, so we thought we would grab one and see just how easy (or otherwise) they are to use, and whether they can give a clean finish to a banded edge.

The Torquata ET-100 Edge Trimmer
We picked up a Torquata ET-100 edge trimmer from Timbecon in Australia - www.timbecon.com.au. There are similar edge trimmers sold around the world with the same basic design employed.

The edge trimmer is of hardened plastic construction. It comes apart into two single sections (see photos) which are rejoined with the included springs sitting inside the round tube shafts. With the springs in place, you can squeeze the two sides of the trimmer together. This provides the mechanism by which the trimmer can adjust to accompany a wide range of edge thicknesses, from 10mm to 30mm in width in fact. This means if the thickness of the edge of the material you have edge banded falls within this range, you can use the edge trimmer to remove any overlapping edge banding. Naturally, for thinner edges, you squeeze the two halves together to reduce the distant between the two halves so each side rests on one edge of the edge banded board or material.

There are two types of blades that come pre-fitted to the trimmer. Firstly, there is a "straight" blade which will trim the bulk of the excess edge banding material overlapping the edge of your workpiece away. Next, their is a second blade angled at roughly 45 degrees that trails behind the straight blade which will make the final trimming action. The angled blade trims off the remainder of any overhanging edge banding not trimmed by the straight blade, and provides an angled cut which smoothes out the edge so there are no sharp edges along the length of your workpiece, something which many powered edge trimmers do not do (most only trim to a square edge). This often saves you from having to fine sand the edge also. Having a slightly angled edge also helps the edge banding stay attached to the materials edge as it is more difficult for anyone to inadvertently "pull" backward on the edge of the banding piece and dislodge it over time. There are blades on both sides of the trimmer, which means you can trim the banding on both edges at the one time, hence the name - Double Edge Trimmer! The angled blades are adjustable so you can adjust how far they project out. This is handy as different materials require different angle depths. Melamine (laminated particle board) is prone to poor results if you deploy too much depth with the angled blade, resulting in poor results. You might also choose to not use the angled blades at all, leaving all the work to the straight blade for a square-edge finish.

The basic procedural use of the edge trimmer is as follows...

Once you have properly applied the edge banding to your material's exposed edge, you will likely have some overlapping edge banding material that needs to be trimmed (edge banding material is generally made 3/4" or 1" wide to accommodate most common sheet material thicknesses). You set the inside edges of each half of the trimmer flush (or near to) with the outer faces of the workpiece, so the overhanging edge banding will run in the underside channels of the edge trimmer itself. Once you have it positioned (and there are arrows on top of the edge trimmer to show direction of use) you keep squeezing the two halves of the trimmer against the workpiece faces (or initially close to them) and steadily push it along the edge to trimming the excess banding. A nice, fluid and constant speed action gives the best results. Think of the action being somewhat similar to a hand planing action, with the goal of making one nice, long, continuous shaving as you go. As you make the trimming pass, the excess edge banding is trimmed close to the surface of your material edges, or flush if you choose to trim it all in one pass - not ideal method for some materials - with the trimmed banding flowing out of the side of the edge trimmer and out of harms way - no chance for the trimmed edge to fall back in line with the blades and to foul things up if you are making wide enough trimmings. For multiple pass trimming on difficult work, occasionally the blade gullet may catch a bunch of trimmings, but you just shake them or blow them out as you go - generally not an issue.

That's all there really is too it. Continue trimming all excess edge banding until finished or flush with the faces. If you have to stop half way through an edge, no problem, just re-align the trimmer and continue on. It's very simple to use in principle, however, it too requires a little practice, particularly with materials such as melamine particle board because errors are magnified because of the contrasting materials (white laminate over vulnerable particle board). Plywood provides a much cleaner edge that is easier to achieve as well.

Usually several light passes will yield better results. Squeezing too firmly against each face and taking all the excess banding off with one pass didn't give me as clean a result as with a couple successive passes taking off smaller amounts. Again, it is material dependant. Plywood seemed to be a little easier to trim than the particle board cores. With a little practice however, you will master the tool and it will deliver good results.

There are also two sets of blades, so you can flip the tool over and use the second side once the first side blades start to dull. You may be able to sharpen the angle blades yourself, or at least hone them with a fine diamond file. The "straight cutting" blades are a little trickier because of their U-shaped design. Replacement blades are available for the trimmer. These come in at about half the price of the trimmer itself. You can get quite a lot of use out of a blade set, but this depends of course on the type of banding you are trimming. For the occasional shop edge banding trimming exercise, you should get reasonable mileage out of a blade set.

Edge Quality
So what is the quality of the resulting trimmed edge? As shown in the pictures, set up of the angled blades and overall trimmer use technique is crucial to achieving clean results, particularly on difficult edge trimming materials. Having sharp trimming blades will naturally also give better results, and replacement blades are readily available for the tool, and easily attached as well. Always practice on a piece of scrap when you first use the tool to get a feel for how it works. Once you are confident, proceed with your project piece and you should find the edge trimmer saves you a lot of time over using other trimming methods, and will give good end results.

Conclusion
In the end, the tool does indeed make edge band trimming a simpler task in my opinion, and with a little practice, your results will be as good as any other method, short of investing in a dedicated, room-sized edge banding machine costing tens of thousands of dollars. I had the tool nutted out within about 5 minutes of use, so there is no steep learning curve. For the asking price of around AUD$33, and AUD$15 for replacement blades, the double edge trimmer is a handy tool to have around the place if you engage in some edge banding work here and there. Just expect to make a few fine blade depth adjustments out of the box, and check these before trimming different types of materials. Admittedly, the actual wooden veneer edge banding seems much simpler to trim than the synthetic melamine edging. A vote for el naturale!

 

Available to Order Online through these companies...
Click graphic to go to their direct product page for this item

In Australia




ET-100 Double Edge Trimmer

Timbecon will also mail out to most parts of the world
if you cannot find these items locally.

 

In the USA
Note that models and specifications may differ.
These are similar items as those reviewed above, but may not be the same.

Double Edge Trimmer
Double Edge Trimmer


Rockler.com

Torquata ET-100 Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior written permission prohibited


The ET-100 edge trimmer ships assembled and ready to use.


The edge trimmer separated. Note the two internal springs for width adjustment and the attached black straight trimming blades.


Here you can see the reverse side of the two angled blades secured by a screw for easy replacement. These angled blades will complete the final trimming action.


Smoothly glide the edge trimmer along the edge banding surface, pinching it to the flat edge surfaces of the board.


Here you can see what happens when the angled blades are set to cut too deep. Some nasty chipping of the face surface of this melamine particle board sheet.
 


Here you can see the result of correct blade adjustment and good technique... nice, smooth edge with no edge or face damage, and achieved much faster than with a stanley knife!


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