Covering Your Ugly Butt
Whoever invented the butt joint should have called it something else if he didn't want people making bad jokes and puns about it.
No matter. The point is that you might have several reasons for using butt joints between beams, and you need to plan them and dress them up so they look beautiful rather than ugly. I'm talking about butting the end of one beam against the end of another so the two look like one continuous beam. You might do this if:
- You can't get a single beam long enough to span the distance
- Piecing beams together turns out to be cheaper than using one longer beam
- Handling a long beam is difficult in the space you have available
Whatever the reason, you can't just squeeze the butts together and leave the joint exposed. Not even if you stain the ends before you install them, so that no raw polyurethane is accidentally exposed. No amount of care will hide the fact that you've got two beam ends hanging unsupported in midair. (If the joint rests on a post or another beam, that's a different story.)
The solution is easy. Cover the butt joint with a strap. This preserves the illusion of a continuous beam and adds a nice decorative touch as well. It also requires extra planning, because you don't want straps scattered randomly about. They need to line up nicely across a series of beams. So you have to plan joint locations carefully, and you might need to add straps where there are no butt joints for a consistent look.