Quick lesson on determining the scarf cut placement on scarfed necks.

So what I want to do here is to explain how I determine where to cut when I make a scarf neck. It was hard for me to calculate just where to cut the neck stock so that i had enough to make the headstock (pegboard if you want) but not too much. I tried math. I tried templates. I tried Zen. Then the answer was simple! You will see below.

First off, I make my scarfed necks where the scarf (headstock) is over the neck and both the neck and head are under the fretboard/fingerboard. Some of you don't put the headstock over the neck so this lesson won't help much. For that you might have to do some other calculations based on where the neck 'bends' down and how long a headstock you want. That's for someone else to decide. Me, I am not that ambitious.

Ok, so for starters, I use some sort of neck stock. What that would be is unimportant as is the thickness or width. That's totally up to you. Also the angle that you want to use. Again, not important here. What i have been using as a point of reference, is a 36" piece of stock. Lets say a standard 1"x2" piece of stock from Lowes or Home Depot (US). I want to make my headstock say, 5 1/2" long. That is, I have 5 1/2" from where the neck bends on the top to the end of the head. I lay the wood down flat (on its 2" side) and measure from one end 5 3/4" (1/4" extra for cutting or bad measurement). I will make a mark across the wood . Then I will lay the wood on its 1" side. I have a jig that I made that will measure the exact angle I want (see pic below). I lay that on the side at the previous line and make a mark of that angle. That's my cut.

Simple eh? Yeps. Can't be any simpler. Once cut, I flip the head over, glue it down, measure about 1/2" away from the topside bend an that is where the fretboard/fingerboard will end and the nut begins. From there, I can measure for my scale and then where the box will be based on where I want the bridge. Even simpler.

Here's the result:

My jig I use to make the angle.


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Comment by Wes "I'm Baaaaack" Yates on January 29, 2012 at 5:41pm

One thread recently (1/12) has asked the question: What tool/method to use to cut scarf joints? Some have suggested band saw, some mitre box, some eyeball. Answer: Any way that you come up with that creates a clean, straight, even cut. Try any number of ways. YMMV.


Comment by Wes "I'm Baaaaack" Yates on August 31, 2011 at 10:47pm
Swampie, dunna have any clue. Sorry. I would say 'bout that

Comment by swampapple slim on August 31, 2011 at 10:05pm
one more thing . do you know if gibsons using 14 degrees?
Comment by swampapple slim on August 31, 2011 at 10:03pm
thanks man i like to read all i can before i cut the good stuff
Comment by ProfWaldo on October 21, 2010 at 8:16am
So you did it for aesthetics and ended up with a stronger joint,...Bonus-points Wes !
Comment by Wes "I'm Baaaaack" Yates on October 21, 2010 at 7:00am
Thanks all for the great comments and thanks Wally. I kinda thought that would be a stronger solution, but in reality, it would look better as I wouldn't have two different grain patterns on the face of the headstock.

Comment by neil lindsay on October 20, 2010 at 6:48am
Nice one Wes this will really help me with my next build.
Comment by Colin S on October 19, 2010 at 2:34pm
Thanks for taking the time Wes, this is a very useful tutorial.
Comment by ProfWaldo on October 19, 2010 at 7:38am
Your method of head-stock over the neck is considerably stronger joint than the other way. The obvious fact being, you will be sandwiching the head between the neck and the fret board. There may not be any hardfast rules in CBG building but in woodworking there is, make the joint as strong as possible. In which case, your method is not only the preferred method but is is the correct method. But to each his own. Nice, simple, straight forward instructions. (useless tid-bit: I've been a woodworker for 35 years)

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