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AW Extra 12/19/13 - Tips For Applying Tee Molding


Tips For Applying Tee Molding

Looking for a quick, easy way to put a durable edge on a project?

By Brad Holden

Tee molding might be the perfect answer. Installation could not be simpler: just rout the slot and tap the molding in place. There’s no gluing, no ironing, no finishing, and it’ll stand up to years of abuse. Used extensively on store and restaurant fixtures, tee molding is also a great choice for shop cabinets, kid’s furniture or any other place where a durable, impact resistant edge is a plus. Tee molding is available in a huge array of colors and profiles so let your imagination run wild. Use it to add bright colors to a child’s playroom or bedroom. It can transform the ordinary, like a set of laundry room shelves, into a colorful highlight. Check out the eight great installation tips in this article. They’ll insure hassle-free success the first time you try tee molding.

Use the right bit

Use the appropriate sized slot cutter to cut the slot for the barb. If the slot is too wide, the barb won’t hold properly. If it’s too narrow, it can split the substrate. Suppliers specify what size cutter you need for each tee molding – don’t cheat. Some manufacturers allow you to swap out different sized cutters on a single arbor (see photo right). Others sell each cutter size as an individual bit. (see Sources, below)

Click any image to view a larger version.

Massage out the kinks

Remove kinks in the barb before installation. Tee molding comes in rolled coils that can cause kinks in the barbs. The kinks can get hung up on the substrate slot and make barb insertion a real chore. Use a hair dryer to warm the kinked area. Then massage the kink out. If heat doesn’t do the trick, as a last resort you can cut out a kink with a utility knife.

Notch around a tight curve

Cut “V” shaped notches in the barb where the tee molding bends around a corner. Three or four notches cut with a utility knife are usually enough. If you don’t notch the corners, the barb will “bunch up” in the slot so the molding won’t seat properly, and it could split the substrate.

Tap lightly

Tap tee molding into the slot using a rubber mallet. Use only enough force to seat the molding. You’re not pounding in a nail here. Excessive force can cause the molding to compress and stretch. Eventually, it will spring back to its original shape. This could leave gaps along the edges where it was trimmed flush to the surface and at the joints where the ends meet.

Trim the excess

Trim any excess with a razor blade. A straight edge razor in a holder, as shown, provides the best control.

Warm up a tight bend

Use a hair dryer to install large profile (thick) tee molding around tight corners. A little added warmth makes tee molding much more pliable. Consider room temperature to be a minimum for tee molding installation. Cold molding just won’t cooperate when you install it.

Make perfect butt joints

Cut molding about 1/2 inch longer than needed. Then trim about 1/4 inch off the barbs at each end. Install one end and overlap the other.

Cut through both layers with a utility knife and a straight edge. Keep the knife at 90 degrees to ensure a square cut and a tight joint.

Voila! A perfect joint.


Note: Product availability and prices are subject to change.

Outwater Plastics Industries, Inc.,, 800-631-8375, 25’ minimum order. Size of slot cutter specified for each molding. A complete cutter assembly includes the arbor and a slot cutter.There are nine different sizes slot cutters that use the same arbor.

Woodworkers Hardware,, 800-383-0130, One size slot cutter assembly (basic T- edging (13/16" -- almond, black, brown, tan, and white. 1-1/2" -- almond and white). The 13/16" is available in 25 foot rolls.The 1-1/2" comes in 50 foot rolls.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker May 2007, issue #128.

May 2007, issue #128

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