Bevel (Beveling): Definition, Types, Benefits & Limitations

You’ve probably noticed that bevels are everywhere, especially if you’re into design engineering.

Beveling is a vital process in the engineering and manufacturing space. It creates beveled edges, a common design feature found on different objects across almost all industries.

Bevels offer a range of functional and aesthetic benefits. Understanding the fundamental principles of beveling is crucial for sound product design and manufacture.

In this comprehensive article, I’ll guide you through all you need to know about the world of bevel cuts. We will delve into the specifics of the beveling process, its applications, and the different types of bevels. I will also walk you through the pros and cons of incorporating bevels and examine the difference between bevels and other similar design features. Let’s get started!

What is a Bevel (Beveling)?


A bevel refers to an angled surface along an edge. Beveling involves cutting, smoothing, or tooling a sharp 90-degree corner to form a sloping surface in its place.

Beveled edges can have a range of angles depending on project requirements. The angle of the bevel will determine its look. For example, a 20-degree angle would create a subtle slope while a 70-degree bevel would be a more dramatic inclination. The width and depth of a bevel will also vary based on the desired results.

Machinists can choose from a host of cutting tools such as milling machines, grinding machines, lathes, saws, and specialized beveling machines. The choice of cutting tool will depend on the application and workpiece material. For example, miter saws are a common choice for wood beveling. Conversely, milling machines may be used for metals while glass bevelers are used for glass. Selecting an improper cutting tool can result in rough edges and inaccurate cuts.

Bevels are widely popular across various industries. Common applications include;

  • Furniture such as table tops, drawers, and cabinets.

  • Automotive components

  • Blades such as an axe or knife blade

  • Mirrors and glass

  • Machine parts

  • Pipe assembly

How Does Bevel Work in Engineering?

Bevels change the shape of a component for functional, cosmetic, or safety reasons. The angle of a bevel will impact the load distribution and overall strength of a component. Therefore, it’s crucial to create an appropriate bevel angle for your project. Cutting an excessive bevel angle would reduce the cross-sectional area and load-bearing capacity of a part.

Beveled edges can be cut manually using hand-held tools. Alternatively, the process can be automated through computer numerical control (CNC) machines. CNC machines are capable of producing highly precise parts at a faster rate.

Machining bevels calls for some tool changes which can increase the processing time. However, beveled edges reduce the required post-processing cleanup and deburring. This means that there is no significant increase in the processing time.

What is The Purpose of Beveling in Manufacturing?

Beveling is an integral process in the manufacturing industry. It fulfills a range of objectives including;

Simplify assembly and installation

Different types of bevels play a role in the assembly process. They create tapered edges which improve the alignment and fitting of components. This results in an easier assembly process.

Facilitates welding of components.

Bevel edges are typically applied to thicker pieces of metal before welding. This step creates a groove or channel that allows for better fusion of the separate parts.

Promotes Safety

A key function of bevels is to get rid of right angles. Of course, this improves safety and reduces the risk of damage to other objects.

Reduces stress concentration

Sharp corners are generally weaker due to high stress concentration. Beveling an edge gives better stress flow and improves the fatigue resistance of components. Beveled surfaces are usually more durable than right-angled edges.

Superior finishing quality

Bevels add an air of craftsmanship to a part. They create visual interest resulting in higher aesthetic appeal.

Types of Bevel (Beveling)

There are different types of bevels, each with unique characteristics and functions. In this section, I’ll break down the common bevel categories.

Plain Bevel

A plain bevel is essentially a slanted edge, created at a constant angle relative to the meeting edges. Plain bevels are quite common and typically have a constant face width throughout their length.

Designers often incorporate plain bevels into product designs to eliminate sharpness and achieve a safer edge. In some cases, this feature may be purely cosmetic. In addition to their aesthetic benefits, plain bevels come with an array of functional perks. They facilitate assembly, improve part strength, and lower stress concentrations.

J-Prep Bevel

A J-prep, also known as a J-groove, is another common type of bevel. As the name suggests, this connecting edge has a J-shaped cross-section. Fabricators prefer J-groove bevels for butt welds. Butt welding is a simple and versatile process where two metal pieces are placed end-to-end and joined in a single plane. A J-prep may be beveled on one end of the joint, leaving a perpendicular surface on the other. Alternatively, both sides may be beveled.

A J-prep is designed to extend the surface area for the weld. This results in improved weld strength and an overall higher quality joint. You’re likely to encounter J-groove bevels in heavy industries such as shipbuilding, aerospace, piping, machine tool building, and structural fabrication.

J-Prep with Back Level

The only difference between a J-prep and a J-prep with back level is that the latter has a second angled bevel. The back level is created on either the J-prep section or on the second piece to be jointed and it enhances accessibility and penetration.

A J-prep with back level is especially useful for welding applications. One of its key advantages is that it provides an extended weld volume compared to a standard J-groove bevel. This translates to high-strength joints and better weld penetration. Another perk of a back bevel is that it provides better access and, therefore, allows the operator to monitor and check the quality of the weld.

J-prep with back bevels are typically used in the same fields as the standard J-prep. However, since the second beveled edge means extra production costs, this bevel type is more suited to higher-value applications.

Compound Bevel

A compound bevel is also known as a double bevel. Compound beveling entails creating two complementary sloping edges on both sides of the workpiece edge. Double bevels are popular in woodworking and carpentry as they generate intricate and aesthetically pleasing designs. They also generate cleaner and stronger connections, creating top-tier wood products.

Compound bevels are also utilized in machining metal parts. They create elaborate and intricate designs that are visually appealing. In addition to the aesthetic aspect, double bevels offer functional benefits in metal components.

Compound J-Prep with Back Bevel

A compound J-prep with a back bevel is a complex feature commonly used in welding applications. It is a mix of a J-prep and back bevel and, therefore, features several angles and slopes. This composite feature creates an even larger weld volume compared to simple J-prep bevels.

The increased weld volume results in higher joint strength. Another benefit of multiple bevels is that they improve the penetration of the weld material. Also, this system minimizes stress concentration and allows for better stress distribution in the joint section. This reduces the likelihood of joint failure or cracking.

Compound J-prep with back bevels are most suited to applications that require high-strength joints capable of enduring stress conditions. In some cases, failure of the weld joints could be life-threatening. Industries that utilize these compound joint configurations include shipbuilding, pressure vessels, and reactor systems.

Choosing the Right Beveling Method

There are different beveling techniques, each with its set of applications and benefits. The choice of beveling method significantly impacts the strength of the created joint. Here are some of the factors you need to consider when choosing a suitable beveling method.

  • Workpiece material. Different materials will have varying properties, and this influences the choice of beveling technique. For example, common metals such as steel, aluminum, and copper have varying levels of hardness, brittleness, and thickness. Therefore, you may need to employ different techniques to achieve the desired outcome.

  • Required skill level. Some beveling methods are more complex than others. Before settling on a preferred technique, ensure that you have the necessary skills to operate the corresponding machines.

  • Project specifications. The specific requirements of your project will determine the appropriate beveling method. For instance, if you’re working on a large or complex project that requires precision and high-quality finishes, automated methods would be your best option. This is because they are more efficient and capable of delivering consistent results.

  • Available tools and equipment. Of course, the right beveling method for your project will depend on the tools and equipment that are at your disposal. Do you have access to a grinder, lathe, milling machine, or specialized beveling machine? You can evaluate your options to determine the right pick.

  • Bevel angle and width. Beveled edges are cut at varying angles, and they come with different widths. The desired bevel dimensions will come into play when choosing a beveling technique. Manual methods are more flexible as they allow machinists to adjust the dimensions as they go. Conversely, automated techniques excel at creating precise and consistent angles.

How Does a Bevel Compare to a Fillet and a Chamfer?

Sharp edges are typically modified through bevels, chamfers, or fillets. While these edge treatments are certainly related, there are some clear distinctions between them. Let’s unpack these differences.

A bevel is a slant or sloping edge between two faces. It plays an important role in eliminating sharp corners, supporting assembly, strengthening weld connections, and creating the desired aesthetic.

A fillet refers to a rounded edge between two faces. A convex edge applies to external corners while internal corners feature a concave edge. Fillets provide a smooth transition between two main surfaces by removing 90-degree corners. Fillets improve the safety, strength, and aesthetic properties of a component. They also lower the stress concentration on a part.

The main difference between these two connecting edges is their shape. A bevel is an inclined edge while a fillet has a rounded shape.

Bevel vs Chamfer: What are the differences?

The terms “bevel” and “chamfer” are often used interchangeably. However, there is a technical difference between the two.

To reiterate, a bevel is essentially a hypotenuse connecting two main surfaces. A chamfer is an angled cut that is typically at a 45-degree angle to the principal face. Therefore, less material is removed for chamfers compared to bevels.

Also, the verb “chamfer” translates to “cut”. Conversely, bevelling does not necessarily mean cutting.

In addition to their aesthetic benefits, chamfers simplify assembly, improve safety, and enhance durability. They are widely used in machining, furniture, concrete formwork, and bolts.

Benefits & Limitations of Using Bevels in Engineering Designs

As with any other engineering feature, there are upsides and downsides to incorporating beveled edges into your product design.


  • Bevels are efficient at eliminating sharp corners. This addresses the safety concerns associated with such corners.

  • They also reduce stress concentrations in designs. Sharp corners cause stress concentrations and are considered weak.

  • A bevel edge allows for seamless component assembly. It promotes easier part insertion and alignment creating an overall smoother fit.

  • It impacts the durability of components. Bevels can help you achieve high quality welds that promote greater fusion and stronger connections.

  • They offer aesthetic benefits. Bevelled edges can create a more refined look and add to the visual appeal of an object. They are often incorporated into tabletops, countertop edges, cabinets, and tile transitions to elevate their look.


  • Design features such as bevels create additional steps in the manufacturing process. This can increase manufacturing time and costs especially for large volume production.

  • Bevelled edges may not be suitable for all applications. Some projects may require right-angled corners for functional or cosmetic purposes.

  • Machining bevels involves material removal. In some isolated cases, this may compromise the structural integrity of a component.

  • In some instances, beveled edges may cause misalignment, hindering smooth component assembly.


Gavin Leo is a technical writer at Aria with 8 years of experience in Engineering, He proficient in machining characteristics and surface finish process of various materials. and participated in the development of more than 100complex injection molding and CNC machining projects. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience.