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Bevel VS Miter Cut

The difference between a bevel and miter cut often gets people confused because of how closely related they are. If you don’t know their distinctions, this can cause issues with the projects you’re doing.

So, our experts have created this guide on bevel cuts and miter cuts to help you know which is which.

Types of Cuts

Miter Cut

A miter cut is a cut that’s made at any angle besides 90 degrees on the wood. Looking at the top surface of the wood, a miter cut is made in a shape other than a square cut. Woodworkers create miter cuts by angling the blade horizontally at the plane of the wood piece, working along the length and width – not the depth.

Bevel Cut

The bevel cut is one that is made at an angle  other than 90 degrees. It’s cut right at the thickness of the material instead of the length and width. Furthermore, the cut is made close to the face of the wood, and the angle is often measured against a square edge cut.

A bevel cut needs to be angled horizontally on the plane of the work material. In this case, the bevel changes the angle of the edge board unlike the process of creating a miter cut.

sitting man surrounded by wood shavings

How To Tell Them Apart

Just from looking at the two different cuts, you may not be able to immediately tell the difference until you take a closer look. One way that you could tell a miter cut apart from a bevel cut is by identifying where the cut was made on your workpiece.

With miter cuts, you will notice that the cut angles on the face of the two wood pieces. When these pieces are joined, they create what is known as the miter joint. Meanwhile, a bevel cut is an angle that is cut right along the edge or the end point of the material.

Miter cuts are made when you press the flat on the tabletop at an angle to the blade. With bevel cuts, the blade is adjusted at an angle in regards to the top surface of the work material.

five wood blocks stacked against each other

Miter Cuts: Tips For Making & Using Them

When you’re making a miter cut, you need to be sure that you use a sharp blade. If it’s not sharp, you won’t able to get a smooth cut. On the other hand, when the blade is really sharp, you want to force the wood or apply extra pressure to it in order to cut through properly.

A quick note on how blade sharpness affects your results: when the blade isn’t sharp enough, burn marks can occur on the workpiece. This results in an uneven look that most people don’t like.

With a sharp blade, you’ll be able to achieve a tight, perfect fit for door frames, wall corners, and similar pieces. Sometimes, you do have to work with the pieces you have and tweak them in order to achieve the perfect fit. In the wood projects we’ve done, we always have to make a few adjustments here and there depending on the wood. 

For installations of raw trim that will undergo a finishing phase after it’s been installed, it’s best to apply thin layers of wood glue to the end of each piece before you put the pieces together. Afterward, sand the pieces across the joints to even out the surface. This will allow for a better fit and a seamless look.

If you want to avoid noticeable gaps in the pieces you’ll fitting together, cut the outside corners one degree sharper than the angle. If you still notice slight gaps in the baseboards, you can hide them by using a nail or screw driver to rub the miter’s tip. This way, the fibers will fuse together better and they will also be less likely to chip later on.

an earmuff placed near a miter saw

Application Uses of Miter and Bevel Cuts

Miter cut applications are often for purposes such as making boxes, doors, windows, seals, picture frames, and the like. On the other hand, bevel cuts are for various welding and carpentry projects.

Bevel cuts are produced for the purpose of safety, joining pieces together, creating geometrical shapes, and weather resistant applications. Most woodworkers use bevel cuts for pieces that will trim the base of walls.

Bevel cuts are often known for giving pieces a more appealing look because of the complementary angles that are created with these type of cuts. In general, bevel cuts slightly overlap each other as if they’re a single piece. This gives a more unified appearance, and in our projects, a sturdier build too. 

If you’ll be doing a lot of welding, you will mostly use the bevel cuts method. The reason for this is because they provide better support for the joints, making them stronger and able to handle heavier loads.

However, a perfect bevel cut is very difficult to create if you’re using hand tools. Some gauges for hand tools do not meet the accuracy required for smooth bevels, so we recommend using power tools for this kind of work.

But if you prefer using hand tools, you can use a protractor to check your angles for accuracy. To avoid kickbacks, you will need to set the fence up so that the blade is tilted away.  More importantly, the saw also needs to be unplugged while you’re checking your angles with the protractor, just to be safe.

an extended measuring tape

Conclusion

While there may be similarities between the bevel and miter cut, they are more different than many people think. Aside from the cut, they are also used for different types of projects and purposes. Beveling best suits carpentry projects, while miter cuts are the best for creating angles for frames and boxes. 

In the end, it’s easy to tell which cut you should use. With our guide above, you no longer have to be confused between bevel and miter cuts on your next project.

Robert

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