A straight miter saw is pretty simple to understand and use. But bevel miter saws are considered better because they allow you to make bevel cuts. But there are two types of bevel miter saws, and they both have their own pros and cons.
A single bevel miter saw can make bevel cuts in one direction only. You need to flip the wood to cut bevels in the opposite direction. On the other hand, a double bevel miter saw makes bevel cuts in two directions without flipping the wood. Only the blade needs to be flipped in the opposite direction.
It might seem like the double bevel is obviously superior. However, there is more nuance to these tools, which will be covered in this post. The pros and cons of both types of bevel miter saws will be covered alongside the contexts in which each type of miter saw is ideal. By the end of this post, you will have all the information you need to make your choice. Let’s get started with the single bevel saw since it is the one that most woodworkers need.
Single Bevel Miter Saw: A Brief Overview
If you want to make bevel cuts with a miter, you need a bevel miter saw. But not all bevel miters are built alike. Most have a single bevel that allows the blade to tilt in one direction. It takes less than a year of woodworking to figure out that not all projects require bevels that lean in one direction only.
But worry not. As long as you can walk around to the other side of the project or flip the project 180 degrees, you can make your bevels slant in the other direction as well.
Pros of Single Bevel Miter Saws
In this section, we will go over the benefits of this tool compared to the alternatives that can be used for bevel cutting. Most of these advantages, however, also carry to dual bevels as well since the latter tool is functionally superior.
The greatest advantage of single bevel miters is that they are much cheaper than dual bevel miter saws. I remember when I started out as a hobbyist woodworker. Every cent counted. And if you’re in the same position as I was in, you do not want to invest in tools you don’t absolutely need. A single bevel miter is all that many starting woodworkers need for their bevel cuts,
Simpler To Handle
Another advantage that makes single bevel miters ideal for new woodworkers is that they are easier to handle. Their construction is pretty straightforward, and sometimes, you don’t even need to read the manual to see how the tool must be operated. Still, I highly recommend reading the manual and following its instructions.
Easier To Lift
For most projects, the miter saw remains in place. But if you need to lift and change the saw’s position or placement, you would be glad to have a single bevel miter. Single-bevel miter saws can be 25% to 50% lighter than their dual bevel alternatives. And if you don’t even need the dual bevel anyway, you’ll end up exerting more energy using the heavier, and for no good reason.
Can Go Up to 90 Degrees
Bevel cuts are slanted, but that doesn’t mean that every cut made by a bevel miter saw has to be a bevel. In fact, the blade of a single bevel saw can tilt up until it is perpendicular. So, if your cuts are usually chops (90 degrees), a single bevel miter is all you need.
Is Effortlessly Precise
Finally, no advantage of single bevels beats the fact that they are effortlessly precise. You just need to set the blade at the right angle. Once that is sorted, you can very make bevel or straight cuts with relative ease.
The Cons of Single Bevel Miters
Single bevel miters can be limiting for people who are used to dual bevels. There is only one drawback, but it is a meta-disadvantage that ripples out into multiple cons, which we will explore in this section.
It Leans One Way Only
This is the meta-limit, which is responsible for all the perceived drawbacks of a single bevel miter. This miter saw’s blade can lean at an acute angle. The maximum its blade can lean is 90 degrees. If you can make bevel cuts towards the right side, you will not be able to make left-side bevel cuts without changing specific positions.
It Requires Flipping the Project
Since the blade angle has a limit of 90 degrees and leans in one direction only when you need to make a bevel cut in the opposite direction, you need to flip the project. For larger works, you can flip the entire miter because the blade itself can’t flip in the other direction.
But generally, switching the project wood placement is the “quicker” way. Quicker is in quotes because the process is time-consuming, even when just the project is flipped.
Projects Take Longer To Finish
Since you need to slip the project and make the complementing cuts from the opposite direction, the project can take a long time to finish. However, this also depends on the number of bevel cuts in a project.
When a project requires 2 bevel cuts from each direction, you might need to flip the project twice. But if the project requires 15 bevel cuts and all the cuts facing one direction cannot be made in one go, you will spend hours just flipping the wood.
It Can Be Frustrating if You’ve Worked With a Dual Miter
When I think about flipping project wood to get an opposite-facing bevel cut, I feel anxious. But that’s because I have been woodworking for a while and have used dual bevel miters. Back when single bevel miters were all I had access to, I found the whole process soothing as I did not discriminate between cutting and flipping.
The process was rhythmic. But once you get used to a dual miter saw, you will start seeing project flipping as unnecessary, which can make single bevel miters annoying.
Who Should Use a Single Bevel Miter Saw?
Now that you know the pros and cons of a single bevel saw, you can tell which one suits you better. Generally, most beginner to intermediate woodworkers needs single bevel miters saws. Only when the wood flipping starts affecting the accuracy of the project or taking time away from income-generating work do you need to switch to a double-bevel miter.
If less than 10% of your work requires bevel cuts, stick to a single bevel miter saw. If over 40% of your work requires cutting bevels in two directions, you would probably be better off with a dual bevel miter saw. Finally, if your budget has room for a dual bevel miter saw, then get it anyway. It will make your life easier.
Double Bevel Miter Saws: A Brief Overview
Double bevel miters are just advanced bevel miter saws that do not stop at a 90-degree lean. They can lean in both directions, which makes them the go-to choice for professionals who produce a large volume of work that requires bevels in two directions.
Pros of Double Bevel Miter Saws
The advantages of a dual bevel miter are pretty self-evident. They stem from a single meta-advantage and can ripple into multiple aspects of a woodworker’s practice. Let’s look at these perks in detail to deduce whether this pricey and heavy miter is worth it.
Its Blade Can Lean in 2 Directions
Dual bevel is literally called that because its blade can lean in two directions. This is its primary advantage over single-bevel miter saws, which cannot flip in the alternative direction. Most woodworkers get a dual bevel miter once they advance in their careers because it is the logical upgrade to a single bevel.
It saves time
Woodworkers might find dual bevel miter a little challenging to work with after getting used to a single bevel saw. Still, they go for the dual bevel eventually because dual bevel miters save time, and time is one thing professional woodworkers don’t have. A dual bevel miter saw saves time because the craftsman doesn’t need to flip the entire project to make bevel cuts in the other direction.
It Saves Money for Advanced Professionals
As mentioned earlier, flipping the saw blade is a quicker path to cutting bevels in the opposite direction. For woodworkers who get paid per project, saving time equals saving money because they can get more work done.
You Can Use It for Projects That Are Too Heavy To Lift
There are instances where project wood can be too heavy to lift and flip. In such instances, one is glad to have a dual bevel miter as its glade be flipped in the opposite direction to make the required cuts.
Cons of Double Bevel Miter Saws
While dual bevel miter saws are considered the logical upgrade to single bevel miters, they also have their own drawbacks. In this section, we will go over a few ways in which double bevel miters can be limiting.
They Require More Attention
With a single bevel miter, you can set the blade at one angle and forget about the setting. The wood needs to be flipped 180 degrees (complete flip), which is pretty easy. The result is 100% opposite direction bevel cut. In the case of a dual bevel, miter saw, you need to note down the exact angle of the blade and then have the same angle in the opposite direction.
If you are wrong by even one degree, the bevel cuts in both directions will not mirror each other. If the dual bevel doesn’t come with 2 sets of markings, you’ll need to personally calculate the flipside of each angle. 30 degrees lean on one side is mirrored by 150 degrees.
It Is Really Heavy
When it comes to installing crown moulding, it is almost impossible to use a double bevel miter because the saw itself is too heavy. Even if you can lift it enough, there is no way you can use it with the required precision. Fortunately, most woodworkers that upgrade to a dual miter actually have a single bevel miter for the few instances where the miter needs to be a little portable.
That said, this drawback is not valid as often as the perks of dual bevel miter saws. In fact, many woodworkers can go through their entire careers without encountering specific projects where they need to lift the entire miter tool alongside its foundation while using it.
It Is Expensive
A far more relevant drawback of a double bevel miter saw is that it is expensive. The higher price might be worth it for advanced woodworkers who save money when working on projects that require bevel cuts in opposite directions. But when it comes to hobbyists and beginners, dual bevel miters are a fast pass to a more expensive tool that they will find more difficult to use.
Who Should Use a Double-bevel Miter Saw?
If you get paid to use a bevel miter saw, you probably need a double bevel miter saw. It is a time-saving tool in most cases and is necessary only when the project wood itself is too heavy to lift and flip. Even in those cases, a single bevel miter saw can be lifted and flipped if a dual bevel miter is missing.
Getting a double bevel miter is optional for over 90% of woodworkers. But if you choose to get one, you must be willing to make a commitment to increase your expertise. It requires extreme attention and care. Finally, you need to remember that once you use a double-bevel miter saw. You will find single bevel miters very annoying.
The Best Practices for Using a Bevel Miter Saw
With the pros and cons of both cutting tools covered, I want to talk about the best practices and precautions for using these saws. It doesn’t matter which saw you use. You have to put your safety first. The precautions in this section are universal. Any instructions specific to the single bevel or dual bevel is specifically mentioned as such.
Wear Safety Goggles
Whenever you operate a sharp tool on wood, there is a chance of wood chips flying toward your face. In some cases, you can have surface-level scratches. But in extreme cases, people can lose their eyes. You should always wear safety goggles like *product* when operating a miter saw.
Use the Bevel Miter Saw Only if It Fits the Project
While both single and dual bevel miter saws can make straight cuts, they are not universal blades that can replace jigsaws and other portable cutting tools. When you have a dual bevel miter saw, you should use alternative tools for portable cutting.
Keep In Mind Your Tool’s Limits
A single bevel miter cannot be pushed past the 90-degree mark. A dual bevel miter is too heavy to operate off the table. Knowing this, you should limit these tools to bevel cuts and straight chopping, and miters. Don’t try to push the versatility of these tools.
Make sure the blade is sharp
If the blade of a single or dual bevel miter isn’t sharp enough, you will get poor results. That’s true for almost all woodworking saws and blades. However, the nature of the bevel cuts is such that any imprecision really shows.
Start With Low-stakes Projects
This best practice is more relevant to dual bevel miter saws than single-bevel ones. As mentioned earlier, single bevel miter saws are easier to use. Dual bevel miters need a complete grasp of angle setting. Moreover, the chopping pressure needs to be handled with care as well. That’s why you should start with low-stakes projects until you feel confident enough with the tool to use it on more expensive wood or on client projects.
Lock the Blade Properly
This is the most practice because a bevel cut can get ruined if the blade isn’t locked at the angle it is set at. Wood’s resistance is enough to change blade direction and angle if it is not firmly locked.
Since dual bevel blade is moved more often, this practice is most relevant to dual bevel miter users. That doesn’t mean single bevel miter saws don’t require angle-lock safety. Make sure you buy a miter saw that automatically locks at the angle it is set at or is easy to lock.
Single and dual bevel miter saws can both be used to make bevel cuts in wood alongside miters. A compound miter saw allows one to make miter cuts that are also bevel cuts. Most woodworkers simply need a single bevel miter saw since they can flip the wood to get the exact same angle cut in the opposite direction. But professionals who want to save time and are confident enough in their angle-setting use dual bevel miters instead. A dual bevel saves time and money in the long run.