Bevel and Chamfer: What’s the Difference?
Monday, May 11, 2015

Guilloché lathe. A urethane spindle liner. Ornamental turning. The Servo Auto Champ. There are some perplexing names for the pieces of equipment we use and their processes in this industry. But sometimes, nothing can leave you scratching your head more than the definition of a word. Such is the case with bevel and chamfer. While oftentimes these two words can be used interchangeably, their definitions do vary. But why should these varying definitions matter to the machining industry? Well, having a workload beveled versus chamfered can mean all the difference, depending on what you’re working with.

According to the authority in all things relating to words, Merriam-Webster, the definition of bevel is: (noun) a slanted surface or edge on a piece of wood, glass, etc.; a tool that is used to make a slanted surface or edge on a piece of wood, glass, etc.  Merriam-Webster lists the definition of chamfer as: (noun) a beveled edge. See what we mean by things can get a bit confusing? Of course, each of these terms can also be verbs and adjectives, but switching what part of speech the term is may not necessarily end the confusion for everyone in the machining industry as well as those outside the industry. [But, for those of you who must know, Merriam-Webster lists the definition of bevel under a verb as: to cut or shape (a surface or edge) at an angle or slant; and it lists chamfer under a verb as: to cut a furrow in (as a column).]

So, if a chamfer is a bevel, how do you determine which process is which? As our team here at JF Berns Company has been in the business for over 30 years, we can tell you the insider info: typically, the two terms are actually interchangeable. However, Merriam-Webster is just one source on words, and as there are countless others, they will each list a different definition of these two edges.

How can you tell the differences between these two edges when you come across a work piece than has been chamfered or beveled? Some machinists say there is one particular way to tell these two apart: the degree of the angle that is formed by the process. How and what you are cutting doesn’t necessarily matter; but the final form and its angle does. If that final form has an edge that is at a 45-degree angle, then it is a chamfered edge. As another known definition of chamfering is cutting grooves of varying shapes, it makes sense that a chamfered edge would be considered a “transitional edge.” But if it is an edge that isn’t perpendicular, doesn’t come to a sharp point, and isn’t at 45 degrees, then it is a beveled edge. As the verb definition of bevel from Merriam-Webster says the surface or edge will be “at an angle or slant,” this tends to make perfect sense. But again, there are multiple resources on words and each has their own respective definitions, so each dictionary you reference may give you a different answer.

Words and being in the machining industry can only get you so far when you want to distinguish between these two not-so-distinguishable phrases. But, to break it down into much simpler terms, a bevel is an edge that is sloped and a chamfer is an edge that is a beveled edge that connects two surfaces. In that case, the term bevel has been used as an adjective. (Like we said, switching what part of speech each word is can just make it trickier!) Plus, we’ve included this handy illustration (below) to help you out even further. Because we know some people are visual learners. The beveled edge is on top and the chamfered edge is on bottom.

bevel, chamfer, machining industry, chamfered edge, chamfering, beveled edge
A beveled edge (top) versus a chamfered edge (bottom).  (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

While you may still have some questions about other phrases and terms commonly used in the machining industry, the difference between bevel and chamfer has finally been cleared up. Well, technically, as matter-of-speaking there isn’t a difference because the two can be used interchangeably. But, depending on what resources you use, where you are, and what you’re working with, knowing the difference will help when someone requests a chamfered flute or a beveled mirror. But don’t even get us started on fillets. Those are a completely different story.



 
 

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ABOUT JF BERNS

The J.F. Berns Company manufactures high quality CNC Lathe and Bar Feeding accessories to increase your machining productivity.  Products include spindle liners, bar chamfering machines, bar supports, spindle stops, draw tubes, draw bars, spindle extensions and special loaders and unloaders.

 

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