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jmrentis

Scarf Joint Or Not?

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I am wondering if it is a good idea to do a scarf joint on a laminated maple/jatoba/maple neck. I could do a single piece and cut an angle in it, but I see quite a few laminates and single piece with the scarf joint. Is it stronger this way, I will be having the truss rod adjustment near the headstock? I have never done this type of joint is there any serious problems with this that I need to watch for? Thank for your time and I hope to hear your thoughts and opinions. Jason

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If you're going for a locking nut, definitely go for it. I seen both neck types with scarf joint. Maybe it's more easy to do it on a 3 pieces laminate neck. After the glue is cured, locate the third fret and start to drawn a line at 13 degrees then cut it.

A laminate neck with scarf joint is strong, sure!

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If you're going for a locking nut, definitely go for it. I seen both neck types with scarf joint. Maybe it's more easy to do it on a 3 pieces laminate neck. After the glue is cured, locate the third fret and start to drawn a line at 13 degrees then cut it.

A laminate neck with scarf joint is strong, sure!

Why the third fret, and why 13 degrees?

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A good question. :D Surely 11 or 12 degrees would work fine, too! As for fret location, I'd personally rather just measure up how big my headstock's going to be, do some quick maths, and make the cut wherever those quick maths lead me, be it the 3rd, 4th, 5th fret, or whatever.

Greg

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or simply dont work it out at all, and place the end of the fretboard at the start of the headstock angle DOH!

I mean, what happens if you locate the third fret at the joint, and the nut works out being two inches short, from the angle??? Its all related to the thickness of the piece of wood used to make the headstock. THINK PEOPLE!!

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I won't be using a locking nut, so is it worth doing instead of single piece? Does it have a much greater strength than a single piece or provide any resistance against twisting or warping? Thank for the help so far. Jason

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its equally as good. Some say its stronger, but there is a chance of glue failure (product AND users ability). Do what you think you should, its basically irrelevant.

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Mmm... cuz my two JEMs have it so, (1 one piece and the 2 has laminate neck (maple, walnut, maple). On both I can see the scurf begins on 3rd fret and angle is 13 or maybe 14 degrees. I heard around that for strength it's better locate it at 3rd, but maybe I can be wrong!!!

Ops may I understand the lapse!!! I mean the point where you glue the piece of maple for the headstock, on both guitars it's on 3rd fret but the piece is big enough to leave a plane surfuce till the nut and there the angled headstock begins.

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or simply dont work it out at all, and place the end of the fretboard at the start of the headstock angle DOH!

I mean, what happens if you locate the third fret at the joint, and the nut works out being two inches short, from the angle??? Its all related to the thickness of the piece of wood used to make the headstock. THINK PEOPLE!!

I agree. When I say that I do some quick maths, I simply mean I have a peek and say, "Ayup... my headstock's about 'this big'... I need the joint to be... oh... at least around here <waving a finger and poking>" and that's about it. :D

Greg

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its equally as good. Some say its stronger, but there is a chance of glue failure (product AND users ability). Do what you think you should, its basically irrelevant.

Cool thanks Perry, thats what I wanted to hear. I didn't really want to do one for this neck but if it was going to make it better I would have. I for sure will do it on my next one and probably just do a single piece with a scarf just for practice, then do a laminate one. Then again if I run into any problems with the headstock angle or width at the nut on this one I can always whip up another headstock and do the joint anyways. Also one more question, does the grain orientation make a difference on the joint example if the headstock was flatsawn and the neck was quartersawn? Probably not, just curious. Thanks for all your help! I'll post pics when I get there! Jason

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Given the choice, I prefer to use quarter sawn wood on the headstock, since a rigid headstock helps tuning stability. It doesn't make a huge difference, but I usually glue on 'ears' to make up the headstock width, and orient them so the grain is on the quarter.

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i quarter the entire neck(meaning i orient the grain vertically)...but i never use a scarf joint.mass produced guitars use the scarf joint mainly because it is a less wasteful(woodwise) way of making a neck...but if your neck blank is thick enough to cut the angle from,then don't worry about a scarf joint...especially with a multi-lam neck,it is just unnecessary.

just don't make an excessive angle...8 or 9 degrees is usually plenty

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On a flatsawn neck, I'd go for a scarf. It doesn't look quite as good, but with a good glue joint, it is stronger. I don't really see how any other way of looking at it makes sense. The grain will be running out right where a lot of string pull stress, and the truss rod adjustment nut are. With a headstock veneer (or two!) that problem is seriously diminished, though.

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but if your neck blank is thick enough to cut the angle from,then don't worry about a scarf joint...especially with a multi-lam neck,it is just unnecessary.

Wes makes a good point. When I did a laminated neck, I used flatsawn pieces at least 3" wide that I fliped on edge, so the neck blank ended up being a 3" thick quartersawn piece.

I you must do a liminated + scarf joint neck, I would laminate the main neck piece, but use a single piece of wood for the headstock for a cool effect, like this from Warmoth's Gecko bass's:

http://www.warmoth.com/gecko/images/gecko_neck_stripe1.jpg

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So all jointing should be done prior to any shaping, possibly even before initial rough cut of the neck? I'm really grateful for all the help. I think I will do the laminate in one piece being that Wes and Devon some others are way more experienced than I and it would be smart to take their advice. When I do the laminate I plan on using all the pieces on their sides in order to have the quater sawn edge. It will be easier also to make the blank 3 1/2" wide in order to be able to have a wide enough piece to cut out the headstock without having to create ears. Is there any problems with making it that wide, besides wasting some wood? Thanks again! Jason

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It will be easier also to make the blank 3 1/2" wide in order to be able to have a wide enough piece to cut out the headstock without having to create ears. Is there any problems with making it that wide, besides wasting some wood?

not as long as you have a big enough bandsaw to run it through with it being that wide.

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Is there any problems with making it that wide, besides wasting some wood?  Thanks again!  Jason

And make sure it'll look right with the center lam being so wide. If you're three piecing it, there won't be much at all of the outside laminates at the nut. As long as it looks fine to you go for it.

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I had a wide neck blank, and I ended up having to clean it up a lot by hand after band-sawing it (using a homebrewed jig).

Next time, I'm going to use a narrower piece and a table-saw jig to get a close-to-perfect cut instead. There's no reason a well-setup bandsaw and a jig shouldn't work out perfectly fine, either, but I don't have easy access to a bandsaw so I'm just going to do the tablesaw-and-ears thing next time.

Greg

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AAWWW, who needs a bandsaw if you have a belt sander! Just kidding... Wes has an excellent point, and it would have saved me the time of having to wait for a riser block for my bandsaw if I would have just thought about it first. I'm new to this and by no means very good, but if I had one thing to say about building a guitar I would have to say, "Plan ahead at least a few steps in advance". It saves alot of time in the long run! :D

Nate Robinson

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i always cut the width of the neck first(without ears attached) for clearance on the bandsaw,then cut the profile,then attached the ears already close enough to the width of the headstock to sand it easily level with the rest of the headstock.

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Ideal. :D

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Do you think it's safe to use a table saw just for the rough cut of the sides of the neck, just straight cuts. I don't own a bandsaw but I have access to one, but I'd love to do this mostly in my garage, but I know this not a great idea, but is it possble, until I can get my hands on my own bandsaw? One more question, are the homemade clamps I've seen on this site strong enough to glue up a neck, obviously with a dozen or so, they seem like a good inexpensive alternative? Thanks for all your help everyone. Jason

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A properly done scarf joint is great for saving wood, and makes the headstock stronger, in mose cases, than a one piece would with grain runout. Although it has it's benefits, it can have it's drawbacks also. With a scarf joint, you have to know what your doing or you'll have problems. It's not the easiest joint to make without a lot of practice and good jigs. I would recommend, as the others have, making a one piece first simply because you'll find it easier than doing a scarf, if it's your first. One thing I highly recommend you doing though, is making 1/4" templates of your neck and body design before you even start, so that you get them perfect with a router or robo-sander. If not, your in for a lot more sanding and hand work to get it even close to perfect. Believe me, I learned the hard way, with my first couple of builds. It's like I always say on here, " it's easier to make a 1/4" piece of plywood perfect than trying to sand a 2" piece of hardwood perfect." Like Wes said, with a one piece or multi-lam one piece, you need to know what cuts to make first in order to not make the other cuts harder than they should have been. That's where planning and reading comes in handy!! Good luck.

MaTT

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A table saw is fine for roughing your necks, I would imagine. I haven't done it myself, but it's been recommended to me by more experienced folks for my next build. Pick the right blade and you should be fine.

Regarding the scarf, I did have ONE setback when I did my first-ever scarf joint in my life for my neck:

- When you clamp stuff that's at an angle, there's a tendency for the pressure to want to 'squeeze' the wedge out. Making a good jig will eliminate this part of the equation.

- However, I did NOT use a good jig. Consequently, the part of the neck from the joint to the heel, on the fretboard side, was about 0.5mm higher than from the joint to the 'nut' area. Not good. People couldn't even tell, but *I* could tell and I knew it wasn't going to make for a good fretboard glue-up.

SO, I had to take a long, flat piece of MDF, put on some sandpaper with adhesive spray, and use good ol' elbow grease to level it all off. I worked the neck against the sandpaper rather than the sandpaper against the neck, because it somehow felt easier to keep the 'higher' surface consistently flat that way.

Greg

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Greg, use an oversized headstock, forget about lining it up at all, and cut and plane the fretboard mating surface of the neck afterwards. Less brain melting problems doing it like that :D

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