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Maximizing the accuracy and efficiency of your cuts is a common goal amongst beginners and expert craftsmen alike. If you’re working on any job that requires angled cuts, a bevel miter saw is the surest way to achieve these consistent results. Essential for cabinetry, molding, and detail work, a bevel miter saw is often used to add the finishing touches to larger pieces.
Our Favorite Picks at a Glance:
Available in both single and double bevel styles, which is better for your projects and your budget? In this guide, we’ll be breaking down the pros and cons of each style of miter saw for your comparison. That way, you can make an informed decision as to which saw suits your needs.
Before we get into any of that, though, let’s clear up a few terms:
There are four main cuts you can make with a miter saw: cross cut, miter cut, bevel cut, and compound cut.
In its most common usage, a bevel is a surface that meets another at an angle other than a right angle – or, said another way, it is an angled cut. The word “bevel” can also be used as a verb to describe making a cut at an angle or moving a saw blade to any angle besides 90 degrees.
One of only two angled cuts in woodworking, the bevel is complemented by a miter cut. A bevel cut is made by changing the angle of the saw blade, while miter cuts are made by changing the angle of the wood.
Our Favorite Single Bevel Miter Saw:
Single Bevel Saw
Capable of changing its cut angle in only one direction, a single bevel miter saw uses a pivot system to tilt from an upright 90-degree angle to a range of bevel cut angles. Almost every single bevel miter saw is designed to bevel to the left, to accommodate right-handed woodworkers more easily.
A relatively simple modification of the traditional miter saw, single bevel saws maintain the lightweight and portable qualities of their ancestors. They’re exceptionally useful for making angled cuts smoothly and easily and are a generally inexpensive piece of equipment.
What they boast in portability and cost, though, single bevel miter saws sacrifice in accuracy and speed. Because they only tilt in one direction, you’ll need to reposition your workpiece to make multiple angled cuts – increasing the chance for errors and slowing down your working process.
Able to pivot in twice the range of its single bevel cousin, the double bevel miter saw is a much more versatile and efficient piece of woodworking machinery. Because you won’t have to reposition your workpieces nearly as often, you’ll see greater accuracy and precision throughout any project.
The added mechanical components, however, tend to make double bevel miter saws much heavier than a single bevel tool. This makes them a less easily portable option and one that you’ll likely want to set up semi-permanently on a tabletop workbench.
Also, while they offer a more efficient, versatile, and accurate cutting solution than single bevel saws, the more elaborate mechanical components of double bevel miter saws also drive their price up significantly. They’re a better option for professionals but may be overkill for beginners and hobbyists.
Our Favorite Double Bevel Miter Saw:
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then these woodworking tutorial videos are nearly priceless. First, Steve Ramsey has an excellent how-to guide for making angled cuts in woodworking:
The next video, from Dave Trull of eHowArtsandCrafts, shows how to make bevel cuts with a miter saw:
A single bevel miter saw will be the tool of choice for most readers, as its portability and cost-effectiveness often outweigh the small benefits of speed and accuracy conferred by a double bevel miter saw. If you’re an aspiring professional woodworker, though, the increased precision and versatility of a double bevel saw more than justify the added cost.