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Hand plane for scarf joint? General help for hand tool scarf joint?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rwkeating, Jan 7, 2016.


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  1. rwkeating

    rwkeating Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2014
    Chicago
    none
    Trying my first scarf joint. Most on-line videos/articles use power tools or are for lager joints (used on boats.)

    What hand plane is needed to clean up the joint?

    I was practicing on pine that was already a practice piece shaped like a neck. Cut wasn't horrible. Was going for 10 degrees. Got 10 on one side and about 13 on the other. Went to clean it up with a hand plane and got tear out and splitting no matter which way I planed or what plane I used. I am guessing that I have the wrong plane for the job. All I have is 1) #4, 2) #5 and 3) Stanley 221. The 221 is a block plane, so I thought that would work.

    Any help on general hand tool scarf joint making would be appreciated.
     
    b/o 402 likes this.
  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    There's a lot of fine-tuning of a plane needed to get it to work well for that job. Any of those planes could do it, but whichever one you use needs to be finely sharpened and adjusted. That can be a hobby all by itself. You can get into that if you want to. And you can build a jig to help guide the plane.

    If you are working with hand tools only, a faster way to true up the scarf joint surfaces is to tape a sheet of coarse (like 120 or 100) sandpaper down to a flat area of your bench top. Hand rub the wood block across the paper, checking the fit as you go, and being careful not to rock it. Get the mating surfaces really flat so they go together with no gaps at all.
     
  3. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD

    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
     
  4. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier

    Jan 31, 2014
    Shropshire, UK
    Luthier, Manton Customs
    As Bruce says it's all in the tuning of the plane. If you have a sharp iron and you set it correctly you'll have no problem using a hand plane for this job. That's how I do scarfs (when I do them) and how I do my angled headstocks when I don't. I use a no 4 1/2 usually, though a block plane can also be useful.

    For me using a hand plane for this task is quicker than sanding or even setting up a router jig. I'm sure if you're properly set up with jigs at hand it would probably be slightly quicker, but I enjoy using the hand plane and there wouldn't be too much in it. If I'm doing non scarf angled headstocks where the results are visible it leaves a beautiful finish also :).

    So in answer to your question...tune the plane and it's not too important which one you use.
     
  5. rwkeating

    rwkeating Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2014
    Chicago
    none
    Thanks guys. I'll inspect my planes, see what needs "fixing" and give it another shot.

    HaMMerHeD, I saw that video but figured making the jig by hand would be yet another level of difficulty. I know it didn't say it in the video, but I laughed because it reminded of me of other videos I've seen that go like this;

    Build ABC with hand tools.
    Step 1, make these jigs with power tools.
    Ahhhhh!!!!!! Noooooo. :)
     
  6. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    after planing, a scraper can help refine the joint, and checking from six points with a good straight edge as well can help.

    for me, i'm not a fan of sanding joints and much prefer cut features for important connections, but everybody has their own methods and reasons.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2016
  7. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Yeah, I personally prefer to cut gluing surfaces like that with a router and fixture. But then, I have a rack full of routers and a shop full of machines to make fixtures with. My suggestion for using the sandpaper is just a simple way to get the job done, if you don't have the power tools and don't want to spend the extra time tuning planes.

    I've got a shelf full of nice old planes, and I've had some fun tuning them and using them on occasional jobs. But for getting real work done efficiently, I usually use routers and fixtures.
     
  8. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2012
    Norway
    The last time I did a scarf joint I used a hand saw to get rough angle and did the fine tuning with a standrad Stanley block plane.

    I use a plane I often start with a heavy cut and gradually pull the iron back to make the cut finer as I get closer to the line. The last few passes should be very thin, to the point that the shavings are almost transparent.
    I also check for straightness on several points and directions as I go. Sometimes after every pass with the plane. Using a straight edge (Or the corner of the plane, if the surface is small enough) and looking for light gaps underneath help you see where material should be removed.
     
  9. rwkeating

    rwkeating Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2014
    Chicago
    none
    Practice went better today but I still have a long way to go. Sharpened the block plane (it needed it). The #4 didn't need sharpening but I did make the opening smaller and that helped. Realized that the way the board was clamped was causing it to distort. Every time I clamped and unclamped it distorted in a different way. I was basically chasing my tail (duh.) I have a better way to clamp it now.

    I think the block plane is working better for me just due to its smaller size compared to the #4. I don't really like that model block plane but I am trying to make do.

    As I am so new to this I just need more hands on experience. Yesterday the planes felt like strangers, today they felt more like friends. Thanks for all the comments. Onward ...
     
    Deep Cat likes this.
  10. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier

    Jan 31, 2014
    Shropshire, UK
    Luthier, Manton Customs
    Glad to hear you're improving. Hand planes are well worth persevering with in my opinion. Very versatile and can be applied to lots of tasks (both in guitar building and DIY jobs around the house!). Good luck :).
     
  11. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    on a tangent, you can make planes as well, they are relatively simple. there are kits on the internet for hardwood planes or you can just come up with your own. for light work and special tasks, they're pretty useful.