Simplifying scarf joints…

I’ve been scarfing my headstocks as long as I’ve been making guitars, because it’s a stronger and less wastefull than sawing out a 1 piece neck. Because both of the parts being glued in a scarf joint are wedge-shaped, getting the joint glued and clamped can be a bit like wrestling a buttered ferret. There are many ways round this, from pinning the joint in areas which will be cut away, putting some nipped of staples on one of the glueing faces, or making an elaborate clamping jig to hold both pieces. Here’s my solution, which I think is pretty much foolproof (to this fool at least…).

With the pieces cut and planed, I first check fit and alignment:

scarf01.jpg scarf02.jpg

Then, with the pieces arranged properly, I tape one side of the joint with common or garden masking tape, so that joint can be hinged open:

scarf03.jpg scarf04.jpg

I hinge it completely open to expose the glueing faces, apply a generous amount of titebond original, and spread it out:

scarf05.jpg scarf06.jpg
scarf07.jpg scarf08.jpg

Then, I close it and clamp it. 2 small g-cramps apply most of the pressure, and 4 spring clamps hold down the feather edges at each end of the joint.

scarf09.jpg scarf10.jpg

As well as clamping the joint closed, the clamps push down on the masking tape, and prevent it lifting or slipping, which in turn keeps the joint perfectly aligned as you apply the clamps - simple, but it works really well.

The result:

scarf11.jpg scarf12.jpg

Coming soon: Back strapping the headstock.

56 Responses to “Simplifying scarf joints…”

  1. Ben aka Supernova9 Says:

    Very nice, as always. I love simple jigs!

    Funny how I say that, but then set about designing one jig to do thicknessing, neck pockets, jointing and top inlaying…… :o)

  2. Graeme Says:

    Thanks for that tip, its so simple i never even thought of it (i used to pin my scarfs where the off cuts would be). Now my next neck will go a treat.

  3. Ant Says:

    Ben - my thicknessing, neck pocket and pickup routing jig will be popping up on here soon. Great minds think alike and all that :) It’s basically a modified myka neck jig, which can be adjusted to route a variety of thicknesses and angles.

    Graeme, I used to pin my scarfs too - it works well, but I’m totally sold on this way, it’s so quick and easy.

  4. kip Says:

    Did you get everything you needed to make that LP from some place on the Internet, or did you order everything seperatly from different places? Thank You in advance Kip

  5. » Blog Archive » Scarf Joint Says:

    [...] [...]

  6. Robert Says:

    In regards to you scarf joints made simple…….I have a question.
    In the first picture it looks like you use one piece of wood for the angle cut and then you rip the piece into 2 boards. Is this what you are doing ? If so what thickness are you using ? are you basically calculating 7/8 for the finished neck and 3/8 for the headstock giveing you 1/1/4 to start with ?

  7. Ant Says:

    The first image shows the two pieces stacked, as they were for planing. This is the simplest way to get the angle the same on both pieces. They weren’t actually cut like this - the headstock section was cut from excess length on my neck blank, not thickness.

    Generally my neck blank is about 1.5″ at the heel, and approx .75 - 1″ along the shaft. This allows ample room for a volute to be shaped. The head piece is made a little thicker than final dimensions, to allow thicknessing and planing flat after the scarf is glued. This dimension depends on what tuners I’ll be using, plus any head veneers etc.

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