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I know this is a basic question, but I see a lot of conflicting usage out there... What is the difference between a beveled and a mitered edge?

I think people say "mitered" when they really mean "beveled". Hoping to get some clarity once and for all! :)

  • You might also consider the subtle difference between "bevel" and "chamfer", which are also frequently conflated. – Eric Lippert Mar 30 '15 at 16:24
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Most casual references seem to call all angled joints "miter joints". However, I've found that most deliberate references to the two types of cuts seem to reflect what is shown in this image:

enter image description here

The actual description of these cuts is a bit hard for me to describe, but in practice, it seems that:

  • Bevel: What you would use to make a simple box without end grain showing (e.g. without butt joints)
  • Miter: What you would use to make a picture frame, door frame, etc.

Even the "anatomy" of the miter saw seems to back this up: enter image description here

Ultimately, given the variety of perspectives on the matter, it seems there is no clear consensus. Nit-picky individuals might discern a difference. However, casually speaking, both "kinds" of joints can be called miter joints.

  • I'd looked at the same image of the compound miter saw when I was trying to find a good answer, but while it does seem to imply a difference ... if you rotate your piece your bevel just became a miter, so I don't think that really works. I've always referred to an exposed edge as a bevel or chamfer, and the cut for a joint as a miter, and I think I'll probably stick with it. – Daniel B. Mar 26 '15 at 17:37
  • I agree - I thought the same thing about rotating the work piece. The only exception is that I think most people would probably lay the piece down on its largest dimension instead of the opposite and slicing down through the piece "vertically". The latter approach certainly isn't as stable or safe as placing the widest dimension down. Not to mention that doing a bunch of cuts with a 45 degree "bevel" on the miter saw would be super awkward. Regardless, this is why I came to the conclusion that there's no real consensus. It's probably always best to clarify! – rinogo Mar 26 '15 at 20:46
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    I suppose. In the past I wouldn't have worried about it, since I'd be in a workshop where everybody used the same lingo, but now with the internet (and this awesome site) it might be useful to clarify. Perhaps referring to whether your bevel/miter is along the length or width would be prudent, or the ever useful Sketchup might have to come into play. – Daniel B. Mar 26 '15 at 20:53
  • In your examples, I would say both the box and the picture frame have miter joints. I had never heard of anything called a bevel joint, but apparently the term is synonymous with miter joint. dictionary.reference.com/browse/bevel+joint The bevel adjustment on a compound miter saw isn't called the miter adjustment because that name was already taken, not because you make bevel cuts with a bevel adjustment and miter cuts with a miter adjustment. Do you have a definitive woodworking reference which distinguishes the two? – rob Mar 26 '15 at 23:21
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I would say that a bevel is any angled cut, not necessarily used for joinery. A miter is a beveled edge (or set of beveled edges) cut to be joined.

I think you might find some people getting picky about it and saying that a "bevel" is along the length of the piece and a miter is on the width, but then what is it for a square?

If you go strictly by definitions (from m-w.com) ...

Bevel: "a slanted surface or edge on a piece of wood, glass, etc."
Miter: " a surface forming the beveled end or edge of a piece where a joint is made by cutting two pieces at an angle and fitting them together"

I'd say that supports my conclusion.

A miter is also a hat, but that's probably not so useful here.

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A miter is the angled cut for joining two pieces of material.

A bevel is a cut to know off the sharp edge of a piece of material, and may, in fact be round in profile (a radius). A bevel is used as a decorative finishing technique.

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