Chamfer vs Bevel: Visual Guide on their Differences

Chamfer vs Bevel: Visual Guide on their Differences

Chamfer vs Bevel: Visual Guide on their Differences

How exactly do a bevel and chamfer differ? Which one should you choose and why? How do these two features affect a workpiece’s geometry?

The difference between a chamfer and a bevel is that a chamfer is a cut made in a workpiece, usually at an angle of 45° between its two adjacent surfaces, generally perpendicular to each other. While a bevel is a diagonal cut that joins the two principal (parallel) surfaces.

This article discusses the difference between a chamfer and a bevel in detail and provides insights on which one to choose for your application.

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Difference Between a Chamfer and a Bevel

A bevel and chamfer improve the overall aesthetics of a workpiece while making it safer to handle. 

However, there are various factors that set these two apart.

Sloped surface between the two adjacent surfacesSloped surface between the two principal surfaces
Slope angle is usually 45 degreesSlope angle can be anything, except 45 and 90 degrees
Can be machined by implementing turning or milling operationsCan be machined by using a bevel mill
A completely chamfered workpiece is octagon shapedA completely beveled workpiece is rhombus shaped
Chamfer always notate a cut or material removalBevel does not necessarily mean a cut or material removal
Measured by an optical comparator, chamfer gauge, or chamfering rulerMeasured by a bevel protractor
Chamfer vs Bevel

Differences Based on their Geometry

Chamfered part vs beveled part
Completely chamfered part vs completely beveled part

The fundamental difference between a chamfer and a bevel lies in their geometry.

A bevel is a sloping surface with an acute angle that joins the two principal (generally parallel) surfaces of a workpiece.

Contrarily, a chamfer is a sloping surface, usually at an angle of 45 degrees, between two adjacent sides of a workpiece.

A completely chamfered square-shaped workpiece will have an internal geometry resembling an octagon.

On the other hand, a completely beveled prismatic-shaped workpiece will possess an internal geometry similar to a rhombus. 

Differences Based on the Tools/Operations Used for Machining

Tools used for beveling and chamfering
Tools used for beveling and chamfering

Usually, a beveled surface is machined using a specialized bevel mill in either a horizontal or a vertical configuration.

On the other hand, a chamfer is machined using a standard milling machine with the help of a chamfer end mill.

Apart from that, chamfer on cylindrical billets can be machined by implementing a turning operation on a lathe, called rotary broaching.

Differences Based on their Method of Measurement

Measuring devices for chamfer and bevel
Measuring devices for chamfer and bevel

An optical comparator and a chamfer gauge are standard tools for measuring a chamfer and a bevel.

The optical comparator magnifies the sloping surface to measure it effectively, whereas, a chamfer gauge has an anvil which, when pressed against the sloping surface, outputs the dimension or angle of the chamfer or bevel.

A bevel protractor is unique for measuring bevels only. It consists of two rotating blades, interlinked with each other, housing a circular angle scale. 

After adjusting the blades on the bevel and the adjacent surface, the bevel angle is indicated on the circular scale.

On the other hand, a chamfering ruler is unique for measuring chamfers.

It consists of two interlinked scales placed on the adjacent surface of the chamfer to measure their leg lengths to compute the chamfer length.

The leg lengths are the imaginary lengths that are extrapolated to intersect at a point from the adjacent chamfer surfaces.

The process of dimensioning a chamfer involves mentioning either a leg length along with the chamfer angle or mentioning both leg lengths.

Differences Based on the Connotation

A bevel does not always refer to a cut or material removal process in machining terminologies and nomenclature. 

Sometimes when a workpiece is manufactured with an inclined edge joining the two parallel surfaces, the edge is slanting edge is known as a bevel.

On the other hand, chamfer always refers to a material removal operation or a cut on a workpiece, that is made to remove sharp edges, reducing stress concentration and enhancing the aesthetics.

Chamfer or Bevel- Which one to Choose?

Bevel vs Chamfer
Bevel vs Chamfer

Both chamfering and beveling remove burrs and sharp edges, resulting in a better-looking, easier-to-handle, and stronger workpiece. 

Based on the Joining and Binding Capabilities

Chamfered joint vs beveled joint
Chamfered joint vs beveled joint

Beveling a workpiece before welding produces a more significant surface area for the molten metal to seep in and bond to the adjacent workpiece, thus enhancing strength and making more effective contact.

In this way, you can ensure a strong bond between the welded parts over the entire workpiece thickness.

On the other hand, joining two chamfered workpieces will provide significantly lesser surface area, providing space for a lesser volume of filler metal, and thus producing a comparatively weaker bonding.

Therefore, if your application demands a strong welded bond, it is advised to bevel the joining edges of the workpiece.

Based on the Visual and Mechanical Aspects

Sometimes, the end product in the metalworking industry has a rough finish which is prone to stress concentration at sharp edges and is difficult to hold from an ergonomics point of view.

For that purpose, chamfers are popularly used in many industries, like the glass industry, where tabletop glasses or mirrors are chamfered at the vertices to make them safer to use, less prone to stress concentration, and visually appealing.

Moreover, nuts and bolts are chamfered at their edges for easy handling and greater strength. 

The chamfered surface of nuts and bolts eliminates sharp edges that are prone to cracking under the force applied by a wrench.

Furthermore, printed circuit boards (PCBs) are also chamfered to reduce stress concentration and facilitate easier and safer handling.

On the other hand, bevels do not necessarily eliminate the sharp edge, instead produce a thinner and sharper edge, which can easily crack and fail under load.

Therefore, chamfers are preferred over bevels for applications that require good load-bearing capabilities.

Based on the Fitting or Adjustment

Many complex assemblies, like a wooden rack assembly, require individual components like wooden slabs and supports to be beveled so that they perfectly sit onto each other and fasten effectively.

Similarly, when drilling holes for fasteners, it is advised to chamfer the tip of the hole. This chamfered section provides clearance for the head of the fastener to fit in, resulting in a flush joint.

Based on the Cost and Time Aspect

Both these features demand more time and cost to be incorporated into your workpiece.

These aspects can lead to lower output and longer lead times for bulk production, adding up to your total cost.

Both these features involve almost similar time and cost expenditure, as a result, these features should only be included when demanded by the design of the workpiece.

How does a Chamfer or Bevel Affect the Part?

A bevel and chamfer significantly affect many different parameters of a workpiece.

Effect of Chamfer and Bevel on the Part
1Improve strength
2Enhance the esthetics
3Increase production cost and machining time
4Improve the ergonomics of the workpiece
5Make the workpiece compact without reducing its strength
Effects of machining chamfer and bevel on a workpiece

Effect on the Strength of the Workpiece

A bevel and chamfer increase the strength of a workpiece. 

Chamfer reduces the stress concentration points by eliminating any sharp edges, which would otherwise result in crack propagation after repeated external loads, resulting in fracture.

On the other hand, a bevel does not reduce stress concentration but provides a greater surface area that can bear greater loads and external pressure, leading to greater strength.

Moreover, it facilitates better fit with adjoining workpieces.

Effect on the Aesthetics of the Workpiece

By eliminating sharp and rough edges in a workpiece, a chamfer and bevel improve the overall appearance of your workpiece.

As a result, chamfering is generally used in almost every woodworking project to get smooth and elegant edges.

Apart from that, these features are also used in jewelry making to enhance the aesthetics of the design.

Effect on the Cost of Production and Machining Time

Chamfer and bevel are generally produced as secondary machining operations after manufacturing the workpiece.

This additional machining involves extra machining time. Generally, chamfering or beveling a workpiece adds up to the total machining time by about 5 to 10 % of the entire time.

Moreover, they lead to additional machining costs in the form of extra machine usage leading to higher electricity consumption.

However, if these features are incorporated into your workpiece during manufacturing, the post-processing stage will be eliminated, leading to lower costs.

For example, using a special die for producing castings with chamfers and bevels included in the part geometry, eliminates the need for secondary chamfering or beveling operations, thereby saving cost and time.

Effect on the Ergonomics of the Workpiece

Both these features render a workpiece easier and safer to handle.

Chamfers are generally cut into the edges of the workpiece to blunt the edge, making it easier to hold and eliminating the risk of accidents.

Similarly, bevels smoothen the facing edge while sharpening the other edge of the workpiece. Therefore, bevels are used for applications that do not involve holding the workpiece.

Instead, bevels are usually cut to facilitate a perfect fit, that enhances the overall ergonomic features of the workpiece.

Effect on the Compactness of the Workpiece

These features remove some material from the workpiece, making them lighter in weight and more compact in shape. 

In complex assemblies, bevels or chamfers are often required for individual components or workpieces to interlink and fit into each other.

For example, bevelling two long wooden slabs before fastening them onto each other would enable more accessible and more effective fastening and surface contact.

Final Thoughts

Although bevel and chamfer have various similarities, they have significant differences in their applications.

While chamfers enhance the strength of the workpiece, bevels provide a better fit.

Machining a bevel or a chamfer involves additional time and cost, making it important to analyze your requirement and add them only where they are demanded by the design.

From a hobbyist perspective, if a chamfer and bevel are not required for a workpiece's function, then you can avoid it to cut down on cost and machining time.

Unless you are extremely short on budget, always include chamfers or bevels as part of your designs before machining your stock.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What safety precautions should you take while performing chamfering or bevelling?

The safety precautions you should take while performing chamfering or bevelling include wearing eye goggles, a safety coat, safety boots, safety gloves, and headgear. Preferably, you must wear a face shield as well for additional protection.

Can chamfering or bevelling be performed on non-metals?

Yes, chamfering or beveling can be performed on non-metals like wood, glass, and fiber composites. 

How can you examine the flatness of a chamfer or bevel?

Yes, you can examine the flatness of a chamfer or a bevel using a spirit level, an L-shaped scale, or simply by visual inspection. The bubble position in the spirit level indicates the surface flatness, whereas if the L-shaped scale sits perfectly on the slope, the surface is perfectly flat. 

What is meant by the principal and adjacent surfaces in bevelling and chamfering terminologies?

The principal surfaces are the two parallel and opposite sides of a workpiece, whereas adjacent surfaces are generally perpendicular to each other.

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Hey I'm John. I write about Manufacturing, Metalworking, CNCs and Lasers at Mellowpine. If you have any questions related to CNCs or Lasers, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at mail@mellowpine.com

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Hey I'm John. I write about Manufacturing, Metalworking, CNCs and Lasers at Mellowpine. If you have any questions related to CNCs or Lasers, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at mail@mellowpine.com

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