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Making scarfts

Gene T

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   Hi Gene - Welcome to the forum.

   There are a lot of ways to cut scarfs.  In my mind the first thing to think about is whether you're scarfing plywood or lumber.  I've scarfed lumber using a saw or a router, but the only way I've scarfed plywood is by laying several sheets on top of each-other with the ends staggered and using a belt sander to turn the stepped sheets into a nice inclined plane.  Some people use jigs to hold plywood while they scarf it with a saw.

   So what sort of wood are you scarfing and what tool do you plan to use?  The subject of scarfing comes up fairly regularly so a search of the forum might yield some good information.  I'll make a quick search too and if I see anything good I'll post a link here.

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Here's a good one for scarfing narrower boards.  It's similar to the router jig I used.  If you make one of these you should be very careful about the alignment of the two wedges.  It would be good to make some test pieces to see if the jig is set up nice and square before you permanently glue the wedges.




I don't see any posts about the belt sander method I used for wide plywood panels but maybe you'll have better luck than me.  It seems there's no standard spelling for scarf so it would be good to get creative with the spelling when you search (scarph, etc.)

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I use a hand plane then belt sander for plywood with the same set up as Ken describes.  In this run I am doing 8 sheets at once yeilding 4 16' sheets.


hand planned to remove most of the unwanted material



belt sanded to completion



4 pairs of sheets glued stacked


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If using epoxy and the scarf area will be painted, you can use an overly aggressive Beaver or even a hatchet to cut them out. Under putty and paint, who's to know. The only time it's important is if the finish will be bright. In this case a "nibbed" scarf is the ticket, so you can hold a square edge.

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Any type of "detailed" scarf is harder to make, but this is only done for a reason. A scarf simply makes a shorter length of wood act like it's a continuous, longer piece. For bright finishes, you do need a crisp edge or it looks like crap, so the nib is one way. I've found cutting the nip part a pain in the butt, but the bulk of the scarf can be hacked in with any method. Again, only concentrate on the visible contact point, such as the butt joint on the surface and any other visible edges. These need only be a 1/16" - 1/8" wide, with the rest of the scarf carved out with a butter knife and a hatchet. This leave only alignment and well mated glue line to worry about.

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