West System® - Scarffer™ 875
by Gougeon Brothers Inc
Review by Robert Chamberland
As I progress with the construction of my "Camp Skiff" I am enlarging my stack of odd sized remnants of expensive BS1080 (or is it 1088?) Plywood. To exacerbate the situation I have some pieces where I ‘measured twice, cut once' and found out that the twice measured was twice measured wrong.
I have a horror of cutting into large sheets of plywood to supply small bits of planking. As a consequence I excavated through my shelving of materials, tools, and whatever and have pulled out "The Scarffer", a product of Gougeon Brothers Inc. of Bay City, MI. (available from West Marine for $53.99 last year and I assume from others for about the same price).
Anyway I have dug out my "Scarffer", mounted it on my 45 year old Sears Craftsman 7 1/4" saw and proceeded to do some scarffing.
I'll describe the "Scarffer". It is a two piece construct if you don't count the nuts and bolts. It requires drilling five holes on the plate of the saw. Two for the Guard, three for the Guide. In my case one of the nut/bolt items falls exactly at a big opening on the plate so I have left them off. (I am scanning some of the Gougeon instruction book photos and perhaps they will come out ok). The other requisite is a carbide tipped blade, preferably a new one.
Once this is assembled, to set up for sawing, a wood "fence" is clamped to the material to be cut. The distance from the edge is determined by the thickness of the material. This issue gave me a fit this time since I used the dimension supplied for 1/4" material. Of course my sheets of ply were metric so the dimensions didn't quite work. After a few trials I stumbled on the right combination. Actually this situation took up a lot of time before I figured out just what the problem was but once I did get it the process was so simple I wondered why I havn't been scarffing my plywood for the last twenty years instead of using butt blocks.
I think the answer lies in the boats I have been building. My first project was the Dick Newick designed center hull for the "Tremolino" trimaran. This was the early version that utilized the Hobie 16 hulls as amas. I had never built a boat before and whatever Mr Newick's plans told me to do I did. This included class A Brynzeel plywood, Clear Vertical grain Douglasfir, West epoxy etc etc. The drawings called for scarffed joints and scarffing I did. This was in 1981. I had recently visited the Gougeon Bros. Shop in Bay City and was most impressed and they were most helpful.
My recollection of the event was that the scarffing went off without a hitch and I ended up with two 4'X24' sheets of plywood that I had to apply to my hull single handed. I believe this is why I've used butt blocks since. I don't ever want to have to manhandle a 24' sheet of plywood by myself again.
All of this is really a digression. My pitch is that scarffing with the Geogeons "Scarffer" is a piece of cake for up to 3/8" plywood, a little more work for thicker plywood and the joints are truly great. I'm enclosing some photos from the Gougeons instruction booklet from which you can choose the most helpful. If anyone wishes I can scan the whole booklet and send that off. If anyone is going to build a few or more boats they really should get one of these gadgets.