Bevel vs Chamfer

Bevels and chamfers are widely used in woodwork, glasswork, and machining applications. What’s the difference between these two features, and when should they be used?

Chamfered Edge vs Beveled Edge

Bevel vs Chamfer explanation

What is a Bevel?

A bevel is a plane on a part diagonal cut that joins two parallel work surfaces. This angle is typically cut to improve machined parts’ wear resistance, safety, and aesthetics. It can also be used in woodworking or any other form of manufacturing to join two workpieces together.

Applications where bevel edges are used include mirrors, cutting tool blades, and glass furniture.

What is a Chamfer?

A chamfer is technically a bevel, usually cut at a 45° angle, but it doesn’t cover the entire plane between the two parallel work surfaces. So, a chamfer removes less material than a bevel. These machined cuts facilitate the assembly of machined parts, improve aesthetics, and remove sharp edges from workpieces.

Chamfering effectively removes burrs from metal, wood, and even plastic workpieces, making them safer, smoother, and more aesthetically pleasing. It also plays a vital role in some assemblies, where the chamfer effectively reduces stress concentration at specific points.

Difference Between Bevel and Chamfer

While “bevel” and “chamfer” are often used interchangeably, they’re not quite the same. This section unpacks the main differences between the two.

Difference in Geometry

A bevel can be any sloped edge between two parallel work surfaces. On the other hand, a chamfer is normally at 45°, typically an edge connecting two adjacent surfaces.
Chamfer and Bevel on a workpiece (3D and 2D drawing)
Technically, a chamfer can also be made at angles other than 45 degrees but is less common.


Chamfer: The main purpose of a chamfer is to break a sharp edge for safety and avoid damage. It also acts as a relief at a sharp corner when you are assembling parts or creating wood joints.
Purpose of a Chamfer explained with sketch
Bevel: A beveled edge is usually machined to create bevel joints, a transitional edge, or a smooth surface for easy entry for sliding parts. You might make it to meet some specific requirements or functions, such as an inspection gauge or fixture.

Difference in Machining

A bevel edge is machined using power tools such as a miter saw or table saws in woodworking by using tapered milling cutters or CNC machining on metal.

A chamfered edge is cut using a chamfer bit or countersink bit for round holes and a router bit for rectangular and irregular profile edges.
If you are doing it for aesthetic purposes, you can do it by filing or using a handheld power tool like a die grinder or Dremel. Of course, the finished appearance will be better if you do it on a router table or a milling machine.

A chamfering tool could also be used to cut a bevel, provided it has the correct angle. In CNC machining, this would typically mean more tool passes are needed to remove the required material.

Based on the Joining and Binding Capabilities

A chamfered edge is typically used to soften sharp edges in a workpiece. An example would be two sides of a wooden box. To join the two sides, each panel would be chamfered, then joined. This would create a 90° angle between the edges, with a neat, hidden joint in between.

Beveled edges can be used for joining parts. An example would be two sides of a wooden box. To join the two sides, each panel would be chamfered, then joined. This would create a clean angle between the edges, with a neat, hidden joint in between.

Types of Bevels

There are various types of bevels, including the miter bevel, hand bevel, and power bevel.

A miter bevel is cut through a workpiece at any angle except 90°, with the blade in the vertical position. This creates a cut angled to the workpiece’s sides but not the horizontal surface.

A hand bevel is typically done for decorative purposes, often on glass. Here, you would grind or sand the edges of a workpiece to produce a smooth, decorative border. This process can be carried out on any material and shape, allowing for intricate designs.

Power beveling typically involves using a power tool to cut bevels into large objects or to cut bevels quickly and accurately. Beveling power tools have adjustable blade angles, enabling the operator to cut bevels at any angle. Some power tools can do bevel and miter cuts or combine the two in a compound miter. Compound miters are at non-right angles with both the vertical and horizontal plane of the workpiece.

Types of Chamfers

There are two types of chamfer the edge chamfer and the corner chamfer. The edge chamfer smooths the 90-degree angle between two planes of a workpiece, while the corner chamfer smooths the right angle on the corner.

An example: A wooden cube has right angles on all edges. These edges are smoothed with edge chamfers, creating neater, safer edges. But, the corners are still sharp, unsightly, and potentially dangerous. So, those corners can also be chamfered, cutting a 45° angle between the three planes meeting at that point. Now, the cube is safer, smoother, and more aesthetically pleasing.

When Do I Chamfer Versus Bevel?

  • Bevel Edge: Beveling is mainly carried out for aesthetic and safety considerations and to improve a part’s wear resistance. Cutting a bevel also facilitates joining parts together.
  • Uses of Chamfer: Chamfering is typically used to ease assembly and smooth edges. If a part must enter a hole in a joint assembly, chamfering the edges of both the part and the hole would ease assembly. Here, the edges are smoothed, and burrs remove, removing obstacles to speed up assembly.

Factors To Consider Before Beveling and Chamfering

Beveling and chamfering improve aesthetics and assembly and typically render a part safer since the edges are less sharp. However, adding these finishing touches increases production time and costs. Before adding a chamfered or beveled edge to a design, consider the following:

  • Does the part require the bevel or chamfer to function, or will it function adequately without it?
  • Are the bevels or chamfers necessary for safety? In case you are cutting a chamfered edge purely for safety reasons, a rounded edge with a suitable fillet radius might be a better option.
  • How will you check the tolerances on the bevels and chamfers? Is this practical within the confines of the application?
  • Is this feature cost-effective?

These factors may not affect the cost and manufacturing time needed for small projects to a significant degree. However, when producing parts en masse, even a 10% increase in manufacturing time per machined part could significantly impact a production facility’s costs and time management. Consider these factors carefully, adding only what’s needed to make the parts function optimally while maintaining production costs at a reasonable level.