There are many types of cuts in woodworking, but only two distinct types when it comes to “angled cuts.” These include the ever famous and miter cuts – all you need for that is a saw, and then there’s a beautiful but equally difficult cut; bevel. If your woodworking plan has either, the first instinct you might have is to invest in a power tool, right?
Here, we will discuss the intricacies of making a bevel without any fancy power tools, such as the miter gauge or a compound miter saw.
So, let get into it!
How to Make Bevels
The Difference Between Bevels and Miters
Before we get to cutting, let’s discuss what both cuts are.
Bevels are made by angling the saw blade so as to make a cut along the face of the board. It gives the wood’s corner an angle, getting rid of the corner completely. Think of it as making a slide on the piece of wood for ants. If you place a 2×4 flat on the surface and cut one corner of the piece at an angle, either outwards or inwards, that’s a bevel. You can sand it off to make it rounder.
Miter cuts, on the other hand, are cuts across the board, perfect for photo frames, benches, and other such woodworking projects.
Here are two figures to show you the difference between the two;
Alt-Text: Making a bevel
Image Title: What is a bevel
Image Description: Bevel vs. Miter
Alt-Text: Making a Miter cut
Image Title: What is a Miter Cut
Image Description: Miter vs Bevel angled cuts
Making Bevels Without Power Tools
If a bevel is included within your woodworking plan and you don’t have a power tool, you don’t have to scrap the whole plan. It might take a little more dedication and hard work but it’s possible nonetheless. As mentioned above, making a power tool without power tools can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible by any stretch. All you need is;
- A spirit/bubble level
- A woodworking protector
- A pencil
- X-Acto knife or a sharp blade
- Your trusty saw blade. A hacksaw blade will work best here, without the handle in the start and with the handle as you go down.
Let’s discuss making the same bevel as shown in the image above first, a.k.a. the outward bevel.
To make an outward bevel, first place your piece of wood on a flat surface. Use the spirit level to determine whether it’s flat or not. Next;
- Mark where you want your bevel to start from on the smaller vertical side of the wood.
- Use the protector and draw a line at the desired angle. Make sure the line is clearly visible. Use a pencil that isn’t sharp.
- Once the line is made, take the blade or knife and carefully make a deep cut. Take your time here. This can go very wrong, very fast since you’re trying to cut wood with a normal blade. The idea is to make room for your saw blade to sit snugly without it deviating from the angle.
- Once you’ve made your cut, place your saw in the cut and with slow to and fro motions, start cutting. Keep it slow, take your time. Going fast means making mistakes.
- Once the blade is in there, don’t pull it out. If you need a break, leave the blade inside. We recommend using a thin blade for this.
The only drawback of making the bevel without a power tool is that you don’t get as smooth a finish.
This can be rather tricky for first-timers, so try it out on a discarded piece of pinewood or another softwood first.
- Mark the start, end, and angle of the bevel just as you would for the outward bevel.
- Use a sharp knife to make room for your blade about one to two millimeters below the line. This is important since you run a risk of breaking the edge if you run your saw right next to it. The 2 mm cushion gives it a little strength.
- Once you’ve gone through the whole piece, sand it thoroughly. This is a painstaking task and a literal and figurative grind.
We recommend using 120-grit sandpaper to strip 1.5 mm of wood and then move up step by step to up to 400-grit sandpaper if you’re planning to use a finish. Otherwise, go as high as you want, until you’re satisfied.
At the end of the day, the grind is well worth it, as you not only get a beautiful bevel but also get to follow your woodworking plan to the letter. We hope this guide on how to make bevels comes in handy to all the creative woodworkers out there. If you think we missed out on something or would like to point out something, feel free to leave a comment below!