Scarf joint or butt joint your choice on crown molding?

Stephen Nuding writing for Fine Homebuilding prefers a butt joint for joining pieces on a wall longer than the stock. He says it looks better IF the pieces shrink, as opposed to a scarf joint. Can someone explain why a glued scarf joint wouldn't stay together better? I just installed baseboard today, and as usual, made scarf joints using nails and glue. Seems to work fine on baseboard. So is there something a bit different about crown that the joint would look better as a butt joint?
dave
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com says...

I've done it both ways. Scarfing always looks better. There is more of a fudge factor for walls and ceilings that are not quite straight and level.
I kicked myself every time I used a butt joint on trim.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yeah, and I like the fact that you can set it up so the scarf is perpendicular to line of site for main traffic patterns. This makes the joints nearly invisible from the places where people usually view them.
-Mike
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, However if you want your work to be somewhat trouble free then scarfing is the only tryed and proven method, and more so for crown that anything else.
Good Luck George

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The Tour Of Homes has been going on around here - been walking thru million dollar (by non-California standards) homes. Have seen a few good looking butt joints on crown and many crappy looking butt joints. All scarf joints were very good looking (impossible to see on casual inspection.)
Could it just be the technique? Seems to me some trim folks who did butt joints took the time to put them in an inconspicuous corner, took the time to make them tight, etc.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Majority rules! I was really surprised to see an author published in Fine Homebuilding recommend a butt joint. That's the only reason I asked here, because I thought maybe I'm missing something. I ONLY use scarf joints on baseboard and like the way they turn out.
Thanks to all of you for voting!
dave
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
    Greetings and Salutations...
wrote:

    Well, while I am going to toss my vote in for the scarf joint, as that is the "craftsman" way to do it, I can see why the butt joint would be recommended these days. It gets back to craftsmanship vs money. Scarf takes a few seconds longer and time is money. There is an amazing amount of crappy joinery that can be concealed with the new caulks, and, with something that is going to be up near the ceiling, I believe the general idea is "no one will see it anyway". This cuts little ice with me, though, as *I* will know it is a sloppy joint...and that is more important to me than anything else. I think it is the same sort of attitude that puts finely carved details on the BACKS of gargoyles mounted on the heights of cathedrals, and, on the hidden undersides of pews.     Regards     Dave Mundt
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 08 Oct 2003 17:26:03 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@esper.com (Dave Mundt) wrote:

Never tried the following butt (sic) I think I might next time. How about setting up a finger joint cutter in the shaper/routah table and prepping the square cut ends with this. Shouldn't take very long, once set up, and the gluing surface should be pretty good.
Hmmm.
Regards, Tom Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania http://users.snip.net/~tjwatson
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Scarf joint sounds a little extreme. I always just cut a 45 and that gives me plenty gluing surface. Been running crown for 21 years and never been called back for a shrunken piece of trim. Crown or otherwise. Check out this scarf joint: http://www.seasidesmallcraft.com/stepscrf.htm I didn't even know what a scarf joint was. Had to do an internet search. Apparently used in boat building to join two or more sheets of plywwood lengthwise. Supposed to use at least an 8:1 ratio. You could do a butt joint using a small piece of wood glued to the back and have as much gluing surface as you want.
Kevin

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

joint
A 45 in molding is still a scarf. It is all relative. In boatbuilding 8-1 is a scarf. In plane building, it is 12-1, or more.
--
Jim in NC



Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"Kevin L. Bowling" writes:

joint
No, not quite.
A butt joint made with a backing block would, as you suggest, provide more than enough strength compared to a scarf joint; however, it would also provide a "hard spot" that would not provide a continuous curve when bent, which is why scarf joints are usually used.
Whether you use a scarf joint in a piece of crown molding is no big deal, especially if you set up a jig for either a router of a hand power planer.
I have a couple of scarfing jigs made from nothing more than 3/4" plywood.
One advantage of a scarf is that it allows you to recover short pieces of expensive material to make longer pieces.
(Ever try to find some 60 ft long pieces of clear Doug Fir for a boat mast lately?)<G>.
HTH
--
Lew

S/A: Challenge, The Bullet Proof Boat, (Under Construction in the Southland)
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yeah, but he's not building a boat. It's just crown moulding and probably not being bent (although a lot of new homes are very "bent"). Why mess around with a planer and jig when all you have to do is throw it in a mitre saw and glue it together. Suit yourself but crown shouldn't need to be that complicated. Of course it looks like you could use that 8:1 ratio scarf joint and put two pieces together on the ground and put them up as one piece. That would be pretty cool. Not practical for me to do at work though.
Kevin
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"Kevin L. Bowling" writes:

mitre
The same amount of work, just a different approach.

Agreed.
That's a basic reason to use a scarf.

OK.
--
Lew

S/A: Challenge, The Bullet Proof Boat, (Under Construction in the Southland)
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I too, cut a 45. works for me on baseboard. I think there might be different types of scarf joints...
I posted the question here because of the author's comments in a Fine Homebuilding article I just read. He didn't really explain why he thinks a butt joint is preferable for crown molding.
dave
Kevin L. Bowling wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dave, If you're using stained crown, a butt joint might look better unless you can find two pieces that match grain and color close enough to make the joint mostly invisible. Unfortunately homebuilders usually order me an extra inch or two of crown and I just don't have the material to play with. When I supply material, I make sure and order enough to make this happen. Like I said before, in 21 years I've never been called back because a piece of trim has shrunk. When running base do you mitre your inside corners as well or do you cope? Just wondering. I mitre everything and glue with Elmers or Titebond. Works well for me. I average about 7 minutes running a piece of base this way. I 'm running a lot of short pieces I can make 80 bucks an hour. Running long stuff, the best I've ever done was 40 an hour (that was on a good day). Takes me about two minutes to cope a piece of 5-1/4" MDF baseboard. If I have to run 300 pieces of base in a house I save ten hours. Takes even longer to cope a piece of poplar.
Kevin
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Just wanted to add. I think I might try this 8:1 scarf joint sometime to make my piece of crown long enough on the ground first. Especially if I'm running it at home. Seems like I always put the joint right in the damn hump in the ceiling and it causes me problems getting a good fit.
Kevin
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
For my own use, I DO cope the baseboards. I don't do it for a living. The crown I'm gonna put up is stained oak...
dave
Kevin L. Bowling wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.