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?
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
I kicked myself every time I used a butt joint on trim.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
On Wed, 08 Oct 2003 17:26:03 GMT, email@example.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.
Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker
Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania
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:
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.
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
S/A: Challenge, The Bullet Proof Boat, (Under Construction in the Southland)
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.
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.
Kevin L. Bowling wrote:
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.
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.
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