What is a miter cut – how is it different from a bevel cut?

What is a miter cut illustration

What is a miter cut? A miter cut is a cut on a piece of wood that is made at a non-90-degree angle, at the face (or width) of the workpiece. Your miter saw needs to be angled horizontally at the plane of your workpiece. 

To achieve the miter cut, you’re going to need a miter saw. Any miter saw, even the most in-expensive ones will do. 

Miter cuts are often utilized for the purpose of making picture frames, windows and doors.  

Other types of cuts

In carpentry and woodworking, we use many different types of cuts. Let’s take a long at the other options and compare them to the miter cut. 

A bevel cut is similar to the miter cut in that it is also in angle but this time through the thickness of the wood piece. Your miter saw blade needs to be angled through the vertical plane of the workpiece. Essentially, a bevel cut will change the angle of the board edge. 

To create the bevel cut you need a compound miter saw, also known as the single bevel miter saw. These come with a blade that can be tilted (or beveled) 0° – 50° in one direction (most commonly the left). 

Bevel cuts are used often in carpentry to create joining pieces and geometrical shapes.

What is the difference between a miter and a bevel cut?

what is difference between bevel and miter cut

Both cuts go at an angle but the miter cut is angled on the face of the board whereas the bevel cut is angled through the thickness of the board.

Chris Palmer does a great job explaining the difference between a miter and a bevel cut, give it a look if the difference between the two still confuses you.

Miter vs Bevel Cut – video explanation

compound cut illustration

The compound cut is what we call the process of combining a miter and a bevel cut. To perform this kind of cut, you’re going to need to both pivot the blade at an angle (to miter) and tilt the blade at an angle (to bevel). This cut is commonly used for fitting moldings, as they usually rest on the wall at an angle and will require some corner joints.

cross cut illustration

A cross-cut is also across the face of the workpiece but this refers to the cut when it is perpendicular to the grain of the wood, or to the length of the material. 

This kind of cut is done preferably with a blade that has more teeth, to yield a smoother across the woodgrain. You don’t actually need a miter saw to perform the cross-cut, a simple chop saw will do. 

rip cut illustration

A rip cut refers to a cut which runs parallel to the grain of the wood, or along the length of the workpiece. For this cut – as opposed to the cross-cut, you want a blade with fewer teeth, as larger gullets allow faster stock removal

Questions answered:

  • What is a miter cut
  • What is a bevel cut
  • What is a compound cut
  • What is a cross-cut
  • What is a rip cut
  • Miter cut vs Bevel cut
  • Rip cut vs cross cut