Need some advice on joining beams.

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Forum topic by Savage86 posted 05-31-2018 02:31 AM 1391 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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55 posts in 978 days

05-31-2018 02:31 AM

I have some 6×6 and some 8×8 pine beams. I am putting these along the edge and down center of a ranch style home. I know how I am going to anchor them to ceiling just not sure the best way to end join them to span the lengths I need. I’ve read about scarfing and saved some pictures. Just wanted to experts advise before I start sanding and cutting them.

12 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4259 days

#1 posted 05-31-2018 02:53 AM

Either of these would likely be adequate for
a non-structural decorative application. The
straight one is probably easier to make with
common power tools.

View bandit571's profile


24440 posts in 3295 days

#2 posted 05-31-2018 03:30 AM

Aka…Scarf Joint..

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Savage86's profile


55 posts in 978 days

#3 posted 05-31-2018 03:38 AM

How long should my scarf be? I hate to sound dumb just never did any of these before. I found this one on here think it would work and look pretty neat too.

View BroncoBrian's profile


875 posts in 2570 days

#4 posted 05-31-2018 03:40 AM

Yep, Loren is right on. I’ve seen these in some mountain homes in CO. The wood pins look great if you don’t mind a little rustic finish.

Test your finish. Those pine beams can get pretty yellow after a while.

-- A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4259 days

#5 posted 05-31-2018 03:45 AM

A decorative joint is fine, just more time
consuming to make. That soft pine will
want sharp chisels for trimming.

A glued scarf joint usually is pretty shallow
because the long grain glues better. With
a mechanical scarfed joint it’s a matter of
how much weight it needs to support at the
joint, so in a situation where you’re attaching
it to an already stable ceiling I thing if you
like the looks of the fancy joint above then
give it a go.

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2097 days

#6 posted 05-31-2018 03:52 AM

Depends. For myself, I’d try some Japanese techniques just because. As in, some big complicated wedged joint that is pretty strong.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Aj2's profile


2657 posts in 2409 days

#7 posted 05-31-2018 04:52 AM

I don’t think those beams can be scarf jointed not by the op atleast.
They are too bowed and crooked. That will make those fancy Japaneese joints to difficult and out of the reach of anyone that doesn’t already know what to do.

-- Aj

View Savage86's profile


55 posts in 978 days

#8 posted 05-31-2018 05:17 AM

This is what I love about this group. I appreciate the responses. I will post pictures and let you know how it turns out. My mom is well aware of the yellowing overtime not my first choice but she actually likes it. I wanted to find some cedar beams to match the trim but couldn’t come across anything dry at local mills. I sawd these pine beams out roughly 5 years ago. Some of the ones pictured are bowed but I have 15 other beams to choose from.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4259 days

#9 posted 05-31-2018 05:22 AM

You may want to assess sag in the ceiling
where the beams will go. Perhaps the
way it is the beams will screw in tight and
deform the ceiling to fit their curvature.
Maybe careful selection and some work
with a hand plane will do to prepare them
for a flush fit after scarfing.

View Savage86's profile


55 posts in 978 days

#10 posted 05-31-2018 05:29 AM

Loren I’m cathedraling cedar from the center beams 6”to the outside wall 8”. It’s a short span from center to outside walls room isn’t that wide. I have threaded rod and some plates I painted to attach them to the trusses above the ceiling. They arnt going to be structural in any way. Just wanted that look

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 2908 days

#11 posted 05-31-2018 11:35 AM

You need to make those joints the simplest way possible, half lap or scarf. You have to assemble the joint in the air when one piece is already attached to the ceiling. If you make the joint so one end of the lap acts as a shelf to hold one end of the next piece it will make the job easier and you’ll see the joints from the sides.

View runswithscissors's profile


3081 posts in 2636 days

#12 posted 06-02-2018 04:52 AM

I realize you already have the timbers, but if they are merely decorative, I’d consider making a box beam with mitered corners. Much lighter weight, and if the miters are cleanly done, no-one would guess they aren’t solid. One advantage is that a box beam is much lighter to handle and install.

As for scarfing, that is an old, tried and true method for joining timbers in wooden boat building. Usually the taper is at least 8:1 and up to 12:1. Of course you can make them a simple taper, or can get fancy with the ends—for appearance, because I think for your purposes the simple tapered scarf would be amply strong.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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