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What is a Scarf Joint?

Asked by Glynn on August 21, 2019

I think that the joint that I am looking for is called a scarf joint that joins two beams together end to end to form a longer beam.
Please help if you can with pictures.
Thank you very much

Answered by Caitlin

Hi Glynn, thank you for your question.

Below is an image from our website page that explains some traditional joinery methods including the scarf joint.

Scarf Joint

A scarf joint connects two timbers together to make one.

There are many various ways to cut scarf joints. The one shown above has become VTWs favorite over time because the integrity of the joint holds up well after the timber shrinks, unlike some other ways to cut them. A general rule is the length of the scarf should be at least 3x the height of the beam.

There hasn’t been much research on the structural capacity of this joint, so we almost always try to avoid using it in a structural application.

Good luck with your project!

Matthew McGinnis, EIT

Junior Timber Frame Engineer

Vermont Timber Works

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