As a carpenter who specializes in custom cabinetry and built-ins, I find the versatility of new tools to be one of my top priorities. I usually don't add a tool to my store if the tool can't perform more than 3 or 4 functions. For example, my router has 4 different base attachments. This allows me to use one tool for various tasks. I can cut dadoes, notches, turn trim edges, and drill holes for shelf and cabinet hinges.
With this prerequisite in mind, when I started upgrading my edgebanding from an old, low-quality iron-on product to something more professional, I didn't have many versatile options. I've been looking for a machine that would both upgrade the work I'm currently doing and open up possibilities for future projects. As a Festool enthusiast (15 tools and counting), the Conturo Edge Bander clearly caught my eye. I've been working on a fairly large cabinet project and I've been getting acquainted with the Festool Edge Bander KA 65 Conturo for the past few weeks.
I have to say right away: it's a beautiful machine that produces even more beautiful results.
The Festool Edge Bander KA 65 Conturo is neatly packaged in Festool's typical Systainer and molded foam. The tool has some heft to it, but it's also clearly a solid machine. One thing I noticed: Unlike other Festool products, the Conturo's power cord doesn't break like a typical "plug and play" power cord. However, this small detail does not affect performance. Also, the base requires some assembly before you can actually use the edge bander. Overall, though, the Conturo looks and feels like a professional piece of equipment.
The signature feature of the Festool edge bander KA 65 Conturo is that the edge bander can apply edge bands on both inner and outer radii. Most of the automated machines on the market can only band straight edges on plywood. Considering the Conturo is handheld, I can easily guide the machine around curves when applying the edgeband. The Conturo Edging Kit includes an auxiliary roller attached to the machine. This auxiliary roll allows me to edge band on narrow fillets and it works really well.
One of my favorite features is the mechanism used around glue. Most portable edge banders use glue beads that are all melted together in what we call a glue tank. The problem with this is that once the glue is melted, it can't be used anymore. You end up wasting a lot of glue. Instead, the Conturo Edge Bander uses a sticky disc that fits on top of the machine. The KA65 melts the surface of the disc, using only the glue needed per run. This design allows for quick adhesive color changes.
The Festool KA 65 Conturo can also band beveled edges in combination with the MFT/3 edge bander. It's not a feature I've had a chance to try, but I can definitely see the benefit of this option when designing custom cabinets or furniture. This feature really sets the Conturo apart from other edge banders on the market today.
Prepare for the future of work
Setting up the Conturo is a breeze, with most settings flashing from a digital display on top of the machine. However, there are some settings you need to be aware of before using it.
First, you need to adjust the temperature. Even though Festool is a German company, the engineers have graciously given us Americans the option to display temperature settings in Fahrenheit instead of Celsius. Also helpful, the Conturo Adhesive has suggested temperature settings printed on the box. Using the buttons below the display, the user simply dials in the appropriate temperature setting.
The Festool Edge Bander KA 65 Conturo also allows you to adjust the amount of glue applied. Dialing in this setting can be a bit tricky and requires trial and error. When I first started using this machine I used way too much glue. After tying I ended up with a lot of excess glue that needed to be removed. However, after some use, I found that the lowest glue setting worked well for the thin, pre-finished edging I was using on my current cabinet project. The Conturo has two speed settings: slow and slow. You'll use the trigger on the ergonomic handle to make adjustments.
It may take some getting used to operating the Festool Edge Bander KA 65 Conturo. The machine does several things at once, and you need to make sure it's leaning against the workpiece at the right time.
Once the edging is cut to length and the material is loaded into the Conturo, all you have to do is push the start button to get started. The machine starts applying glue to the edgeband and feeds it into the machine. At this point, you need to press the automatic roller against the workpiece. The machine is then moved down onto the workpiece at the same speed as the Conturo feeds the edgeband.
It sounds complicated, but it's actually pretty close to being fully automated. The user really just puts the machine where it is needed and lets it do what it is supposed to do. If the project requires longer edging, the edging kit comes with an edging reel that attaches to the machine. This reel allows the user to roll up the strapping while in use and prevents the material from tangling.
After applying the edge banding, you can start trimming right away. The trimming set from the Festool Conturo Edge Bander KA65 set helps a lot here . Functioning like a guillotine, this trimmer works great and leaves a nice flush cut on the end of the workpiece.
Next, we start trimming the edges. This can be done with a handheld edge banding trimmer, but I highly recommend the Festool MFK 700 Edge Banding router. This is a great tool because it not only trims the edge banding, but also trims excess glue and bevels the edges in one pass.
It wouldn't hurt to grab a carbide scraper from Festool. You'll use this to scrape off excess glue, and it also bevels the edges. Be careful though: don't drop the scraper. I know from experience that it breaks into pieces. After removing excess glue and beveling the edges, you can use sanding blocks, polishes, and pads to sand the edges to a pristine, professional finish.
Most edge banders on the market have a single purpose of banding edges on a straight piece of plywood. Some automated machines will even apply edge banding, cut off ends and trim edges in one pass. However, they were still only able to edge-band straight 90° workpieces. Not to mention, the price range for automated machines starts at around $10,000.
The Festool Edge Bander KA 65 Conturo Edge Bander perfectly meets the needs of small custom furniture shops. For such a dedicated machine, it is capable of many things that other more expensive edge banders cannot. That alone passed my test for versatility. I would recommend this machine to all professional carpenters, especially those with small shops that produce highly custom cabinets. The Conturo can't match the productivity of more expensive stationary edge banders, but then again, it shouldn't. It exists in its own category.
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Editor's Note : We typically rate professional-grade tools. The Festool Conturo is the only similar tool we know of, so there's no good comparison. In this case, take Matt's word for it – Conturo produces excellent results and is very well designed. Is there room for improvement? certainly. However, since Festool falls into this category, it's really up to their design team to work with Carpenters like Matt to envision what the future might hold.
Inexpensive compared to alternatives such as stationary edge banders
Ability to edge curves, circles, convex and concave radii and interior corners
Electronically controlled precision glue dispensing system for maximum bond strength
Compact, portable, ergonomic design for ease of use and flexibility
Optional table mount for handling small workpieces
Festool edge bander KA 65 Conturo Specifications
- Heating time: 8 minutes
- Security level: I
- Weight: 17.41 lbs (7.9 kg)
- Melting temperature: 212 – 410 °F (100 – 210°C)
- Edge Height: 3/4″ – 2-9/16″ (18 – 65 mm)
- Power consumption: 1,200 watts
- maximum. Edge thickness: 1/64″ – 1/8″ (0,5 – 3,0 mm)
- Feed Rate: 6.56 ft/min (2 m/min)/13.1 ft/min (4 m/min)
- Inner Radius: > 2″ (50 mm)