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JOEL Joel's Blog

Game Changer: Should You Buy the Festool Conturo Edge-Bander?


Should You Buy the Festool Conturo Edge-Bander? First of all as a seller of tools with a mortgage to pay the obvious answer as far as I am concerned is a rousing "Yes!" However, from your standpoint it's the most expensive piece of equipment Festool has ever brought to the US, and it's too expensive just to sit in the shop and take up space.

In all seriousness I think the Conturo is a game changer because it allows a smaller shop to apply edge banding that has the same level of quality ( up to 3mm/ 18" in thickness, up to 65mm in width (2-9/16"), and curves (only when using the machine hand-held) but up to a teeny-tiny 2" inner radius), as a large shop can using a stationary giant machine of many times the cost, with similar savings in labor and time.

In other words one competitive edge of a larger shop just disappeared, and the minimum expected quality of a small job just increased.

As far as I know there are, including the Conturo, six ways of applying edgebanding. (^*&! - notes below)

MethodGluing MethodolgyCapacityFinal AppearanceLabor CostCapital Cost
Clamps & Cauls
wood glueAnythingCan be Awesome!Very High!, and some skill is needed.0^*
Iron on - Freehand
pre-glued banding is neededvery thin, Glue has to be melted with an iron through the bandingOK - You have limited options in edging, and the thin edging limits edge treatmentsHigh and some skill is needed0*
Iron on with a fixture
pre-glued banding is needed
very thin, Glue has to be melted with an iron through the banding
OK - You have limited options in edging, and the thin edging limits edge treatments
Not as high as without a fixture<$1000
Hand held Festool Corturo
hot melt applied to the edging
up to 3mm (1/8") bending, needed to be at least slightly flexibleExcellent! As good as any edge banding I have seenLow compared to all methods except a Big Fancy Bander2800-3500!
Table Mounted Festool Conturo
hot melt applied to the edging
up to 3mm (1/8") bending, needed to be at least slightly flexible
Excellent! As good as any edge banding I have seen
Big Fancy Edge Bander.
hot melt applied to the edgingUsually anything, even very thick ridged stock.=C2=A0Awesome. Depending on the machine you can have a finished edge in no time, with any material you can imaginge, with more consistent results than by hand.Low compared to other methods10k and UP#

^ - I am not including the costs of clamps because lots of clamps are used for tons of things in the shop, not just applying edge banding.
* - you do need some sort of Laminate trimmer to flush the edges. There are some inexpensive trimmers that are just a blade in a fixture but they work OK at best. On heavier edging that

! - The higher number includes the MFK700 laminate trimmer - which if you don't have one you don't absolutely need.

#Depending on the specific machines there machines not only apply the banding, but can also trim, and finish the edging. Also some of these machines will take long rigid edging of 1/4" thickness or more. Most will require riggers for installation, and custom electrical wiring. There are also long term maintenance charges to consider.

Another thing about this machine and why it's a game-changer is that unlike a big machine that takes weeks to install and needs special maintenance, the Conturo is like any other portable machine. You can bid on a job taking it into account for use on the banding you need to do, then when you get the contract, come on down (or let us ship it to you - free) and that's it. And it is covered by the regular three year Festool warranty. And you can start using it when it arrives. Cost out the machine based on your labor savings and the increased quality of the result.

Check out our video that Tim made on his phone when we first hooked up our machine. It's cool and the hot melt glue system is the professional way to attach banding - no more iron-on!

We have a unit up and running in our showroom. If you are within striking distance come on by with some scrap or a couple of shelves and try out the machine out for yourself. We only have 3/4" banding samples - so you might want to bring your own if that's not what you want to try. Please call ahead just to make sure we can do the demo.

Click here for details and pricing. The units are in stock now - ready for immediate shipment beginning next Monday March 16, 2015.

Special thanks to Sebastian Lata for setting up the machine and running it through its paces for us.
Join the conversation
03/11/2015 Danny Hellyar
I've been a one man cabinet shop for years and have always dreaded edge banding due to the time it takes to manual apply better quality edge banding material( Non-iron on). And its always a hassle to move shelving to and from my fiends cabinet shop who owns a much more expensive stand alone machine. I've never been an advocate of paying the larger sums of cash for Festool products, but I must admit now that this product has definitely caught my interest. I'll probably be starting a savings account for this one starting today.
03/11/2015 Bruce Miller
I don't disagree with your basic assessment, especially for shops that need to do a moderate amount of edge banding using standard edgebanding materials. I did find a way to substantially speed up the clamp and caul method for a job I did that also used the MFK 700. I have found the biggest issue with clamp/caul method is using standard water-based white or yellow glues because of edgeband movement, squeeze out and drying time. I sped up the process considerably using the gel version of "super glue" that came in a caulking tube size. With the right workflow I could quickly glue on 2 strips of self-made edgebanding that matched the panel I was veneering, briefly clamping them. I could then end trim them, glue on the remaining 2 edge strips, end trim those and then edge trim the entire panel with the MFK 700 both sides. I'm sure not as fast as the Conturo, but I could use thicker edge banding, glue up was very fast, as was edge triming and I did not have to have multiple sets of clamps and cauls glued up waiting for glue to dry. Other glues that I think would work the same way are fast setting epoxy using self mixing applicator or polyurethane hotmelt with the specialized glue gun. The gel superglue was readily available to me and worked well so I was not inclined to try the others. I've not seen others mention using quick setting strong glues for edge banding so I am sharing this in case it is helpful to you or others.
I was pondering getting into building some shoe cabinets. I have tried the iron on, either I really suck at it or the banding is just to thin! I am looking for that small shop solution and festool also fits since I don't have shop space as of yet. I really need to see one of these in person.
Come to the shop (call ahead just to make sure we are set up). Bring some wood if you would like, Give it a go and see if the machine works for you!
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