Steve’s Boat Building An amateur’s attempt to build a strip plank dinghy

Scarfing the gunwales

I have made the gunwales in three strips, all of Oak. I could not find timber long enough to go the length of the boat without a join, so I had t scarf each strip. Initially I made up a scarfing jig that I had seen on the Internet that uses a router to cut the tapers, but that was disastrous. The timber is tapered to less than paper thickness, and the router cutter just chewed this fine edge to a raged mess, and so I came up with the second jig shown below. Two blocks of wood are tapered to the same angle as the scarf, and fixed to a flat board, in this case a piece of chipboard. The spacing between the two blocks is exactly the width of my and plane. I the attached two bits of 6mm plywood, similarly tapered, to the inside of the blocks, with the sharp tips just short of the edge of the chipboard. Because the plane blade does not extend to the edges of the plane, the outside edges of the plane can run down the plywood without cutting into it.

I made a second simple jig with another block of wood cut to the same taper which I fixed to a piece of ply. On the underside of the ply I fixed  a strip of wood that fitted into the guide channel on my bandsaw. By clamping the gunwale strips to the tapered block and sliding the jig through the bandsaw. I cut a fairly accurate scarf angle.

I then clamped the timber into the plane jig, and ran the plane down the face of the cut. In less than a minute I had cut the perfect scarf.

Left: The disastrous router jig.

Right: The more successful plane jig.