What is Iron On Banding Tape?
Iron on veneer edge banding tape or heat set banding is very useful for making wood trims in G and smaller scales, or for making flooring in 1:6 and 1:12 dollhouses. Easy to use, the various width tapes consist of thin veneer with a a heat set glue backing that can be ironed on to miniature building walls or floors, or ironed to themselves to create thin woods for smaller scale furniture.
Where Can I Get Edge Banding Tape?
Most building supply stores carry a stock of this iron on veneer in several widths, for use edging mdf and plywood. As the veneer is sold by the foot at building supply stores and warehouses, it can be an economical way of creating actual wood flooring or trim, particularly in smaller scales. The veneer tape comes in several woods, including cherry, mahogany,oak, ash, pine, teak, walnut, maple and birch. You want to use a trim with a fine enough grain to look believable in the scale you are working. The tape is also available in several widths, commonly from 5/8 inch to 2 inches in width, so try to choose one which works for your project. If you will be working with 1:4 scale, you may find it easiest to use 1/2 or 3/4 inch wide tape. For larger projects, you may want wider tapes.
What Tools Do I Need To Use It for Miniatures and Scale Models?
The tape can be cut cleanly with a craft knife or box cutting knife, or with heavy shears or scissors. It can be punched with some metal craft punches (depending on the design and the type of veneer) and often can be cut with decorative craft scissors, allowing the production of interesting valences and moldings in 1:48 or O scale and smaller. A standard household iron on a dry heat setting (no steam) works to heat set the tape, but as the glue sometimes oozes from beneath the tape, it is best to use non stick pressing cloth of fiberglass or teflon, or a piece of baking parchment, between the base of your iron and the tape. The tape can be ironed to itself, so you can build up several layers of veneer into a sculpted trim, or smaller scale piece of furniture.
Using the Tape for Small Scale Wood Trims
To use the tape for interior wood trims in 1:48 or 0 scale, set the tape pieces side by side across a floor, or along a wall as wainscoting, or cut narrow lengths as molding trims. Press them in place with a hot iron, taking care not to move the iron, or you risk floating the tape out of place on the layer of melted glue. Press the tape in place, rather than moving your iron back and forth across it. For long strips tack one end of the strip into position, then lift and move your iron along the strip, pressing down firmly without moving the iron until you have pressed the entire strip in place. If the strip moves, you can reheat it and use the point or edge of the iron to nudge it back into place. You can use a fine ball point embossing tool and a metal ruler to create indented lines in the tape once it has been ironed in place on a wall or floor. The lines will resemble the cracks in floorboards, or can be used to make patterns, like bead board for wainscoting. Press firmly into the veneer with the embossing tool (or you can use a sharp knife) to create the lines. If the lines are not firmly embossed they may lift out when water based paints are applied.
Finishing the Wood Miniatures
After you have glued the tape into position, allow the glue to cool and set, then remove any glue that oozed from under the tape by scraping it off with a sharp knife blade. It is important to do this between edges of tape applied to a floor. If the glue is not removed, the next piece of tape will not fit tightly and the gaps between the tape will be larger than the gaps you create for a board effect with an embossing tool. Glue will also create a messy paint edge if not cleaned away. The glue is easy to remove when had just been melted.
Once the glue has set, you can gently sand the veneer tape with fine sandpaper if necessary, and apply any standard wood finish or paint. Avoid using very watery coats as they can cause the veneer to swell and your embossed lines may lose definition. Before apply a top coating, the wood can be given grain effects by dry brushing with acrylic paint and wiping off the excess.