Perfect Rims

How to Make a Perfect Scarf Joint for Your Rims

2012 -The Basket Maker's Catalog
Please print this FREE pattern and share with your friends.

You have just woven a beautiful basket. The uprights have been cut and tucked and now you are ready to make your rims.

Measure around the outside of your basket and add 4 or 5 inches to this length. This will be the length of your outside rim. The inside rim will be about 2 inches shorter. I am using 3/8" Half Round but these instructions will work for any size rims, half round or flat oval.

Soak your rims if needed to make them more pliable and clamp both rims onto your basket. The ends of each rim will overlap forming a bulge. The idea is to carve the rims forming what is called a 'scarf joint', eliminating the bulge making your rims just as beautiful as your basket.

Mark Overlap

Photo shows outside rim. With the rims still on your basket mark the overlap on the round side of the rim. (For clarity I am showing the rims off the basket.)

Mark Overlap

Photo shows marking the overlap on the flat side of the outside rim.

The inside rim will be processed the same way but the round side of the rim would face to the inside of your basket.

Place rim on board

Remove the rims from your basket. Place the rim on a board so you can see your pencil mark. I am starting with the outside rim and the round side of the rim is 'up'.

It is very important that the end of the rim is flush with the end of your board.

start planing the rim

Hold the rim in place with one hand and place the small hand plane on top of the rim with the other hand as shown in photo and video below.

Start the first stroke about 1 inch from the end of your rim. Hold the plane parallel to the board, push down on the plane and pull the plane towards the end.

You should see a thin shaving in the plane as it cuts your rim. Pull the plane all the way to the end of your rim and let it fall off the end.

Continue planing the rim

Make your next stroke about one and one half inches from the end. Again pull the plane all the way to the end and let it fall off the end.

Continue making your strokes working your way toward the pencil mark. It may take 5 to 10 strokes to reach the pencil mark. Each stroke should finish by falling off the end of the board.

By keeping the plane parallel to the board each time you make a stroke, the newly cut surface should be nice and flat.

Remember, the plane will only cut a thin shaving with each stroke . Let the plane do the cutting work. All you have to do is press down on the plane and hold it parallel to the board while you make each stroke.

Photo shows one of the last strokes. Do not cut past your pencil mark.

Planing is finished for one end of the rim

Photo shows a finished scarf on the round side of your rim.

Notice at the pencil mark the rim is full thickness. Half way down the scarf the rim is half thickness. At the end of the rim where it is flush with the board the thickness is almost zero.

Note: each time you make a stroke make sure the end of the rim is flush with the end of the board. Adjust the rim if the ends are not flush before you make your stroke.

Finished end of rim

Photo shows the finished end of your rim.

Hint: Use a scrap piece of rim material to practice making your first scarf joints. Each stroke will make the rim slightly thinner. You may find that you have reached the pencil mark and the rim is still too thick. Just start again at the pencil mark and make your stroke down the complete length of the scarf. Eventually you will have a nice flat surface the correct thickness.

Turn Rim Around

Turn your rim around and make your scarf on the flat side. Use the same steps as you did making the scarf on the round side of your rim. Start the first stroke about one inch back from the end and with each stroke work your way toward the pencil mark.

When the scarf is finished the rim is full thickness at the pencil mark, half thickness half way down and almost zero thickness at the end.

Two ends should match

Photo shows a finished scarf joint. The two ends should match up with each other. After test fitting the scarf joint you may have to make a few more strokes on one end or the other to achieve the perfect joint.

Perfect Scarf Joint

The scarf joint should be the same thickness as the rest of your rim. Now make a scarf joint for your inside rim, clamp the rims to your basket and you are ready to lash.

If you had way too much fun making your scarf joint and it is much thinner than the rest of your rim you will need to start over and try again. Rim material is fairly inexpensive and making another rim is worth it. Your beautiful basket deserves good rims with nice scarf joints.

Perfect rims are easy every time using the steps above plus a little practice.

Get your hand plane today and start making the perfect scarf joint for your basket rims.

Companion instruction: An Easy Method for Sharpening Your Hand Plane

Video - Attaching Rims to Your Basket - Including Carving Scarf Joint with Hand Plane


NOTE: We now stock the Stanley Handplane, ITEM # 8508E. The older 5GH1 Hand Plane is no longer available.

The how-to information above may be used with the newer Stanley Hand Plane.

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