Miter saws come in different formats, each with a specific workflow in mind. If you are considering one of these useful tools for your shop, you may be struggling to choose between a single and a dual bevel miter saw.
The difference between a single and dual bevel miter saw is that a single bevel saw can only cut a bevel in one orientation, usually to the left. A dual bevel miter saw can swivel to the left or right, making it possible to cut a bevel in both orientations without the need to reposition the workpiece.
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What is a Bevel Cut?
First off, lets chat about what a bevel actually is, and when you’d want to use it. A bevel cut is one where the saw head is tilted to the left or right when it cuts. See below:
This creates a cut like this:
The primary time I’ve used beveled cuts is when I’m installing the corner pieces of trim, like on this $11 desk makeover. In fact, I can’t think of single time I’ve needed a bevel cut when I wasn’t installing trim.
The Differences Between Single And Dual Bevel Miter Saws
Essentially, single and dual bevel miter saws are exactly the same power tool, with one single feature that distinguishes one from the other.
Single bevel miter saws are capable of making bevel cuts. However, a single bevel miter saw can only cut bevels in one direction.
The saw-head on a single bevel miter saw can only swivel in one direction, usually to the left, only allowing bevels to be cut in this orientation.
So basically, a single-bevel miter saw only tilts one direction. A dual bevel miter saw tilts both directions.
This means that sometimes when using a single-bevel miter saw, to cut an opposing bevel to match the original bevel, the workpiece must be removed from the saw and flipped over to perform the reverse bevel cut.
A dual bevel miter saw has the feature where the head on the saw can swivel both to the left and the right. This allows matching bevels to be cut by moving the miter saw head rather than lifting the workpiece and repositioning it for the opposing bevel cut.
Single-bevel miter saws can make all the cuts a dual-bevel miter saw can do. However, it takes a bit more rearranging.
If this does not seem like a big deal to you, then a single bevel miter saw will probably suit your purposes. But let’s take a look at why this matters!
Why Does A Dual Bevel Miter Saw Matter?
You may wonder why a single feature differentiating the two types of miter saw can make such a big difference and why it matters.
The two main advantages that a dual bevel miter saw offers over a single bevel saw are efficiency and accuracy.
One of the main advantages of a miter saw is creating repeatable cuts, which often requires placing stop blocks or jigs in place to repeat the cuts.
If you have to remove the workpiece and turn it around, it takes time and may require resetting any stop blocks or workpiece securing mechanisms.
This increases the time required to make opposing bevel cuts, reducing the efficiency of the process when making many similar cuts for a job. On such task where this is relevant is installing crown molding, which will require many opposing bevels to be cut for a single job.
While this reduction in efficiency may not be an issue for the home woodworker, it can make a difference to project timelines and deadlines on large projects for contractors.
The second aspect of a dual bevel saw is accuracy.
Moving the workpiece to achieve opposing bevel cuts allows discrepancies in measurements. With repositioning the workpiece, you may not clamp it exactly right or may not align it to the fence or the cut line accurately.
All these discrepancies can lead to bevels in corner joints not matching up perfectly, which affects the overall quality of the project.
While this level of accuracy in the cut may not be required for some projects, projects with visual appeal, such as picture frames and crown moldings, benefit from a higher level of accuracy. The more accurate the cuts are, the more visual appeal the final product will have.
The Difference In Price Between Single And Dual Bevel Miter Saws
Most major power tool manufacturers off both single and dual bevel miter saws in their range of products.
Dual bevel miter saws are typically more expensive than single bevel miter saws, usually adding $100+ to the cost. This is due to the additional tooling and additional parts required to enable the dual bevel miter saw to swivel both ways.
Do You Need A Single Or A Dual Bevel Miter Saw?
The first question you should ask yourself: Do you plan to cut a lot of trim and molding?
If the answer is no, then a single bevel miter saw will probably be fine.
I have a single-bevel Ryobi miter saw, and while I’ve frequently wished for a nicer miter saw, I’ve never felt I needed one that was dual-bevel.
That said, I don’t cut much trim. I only use the bevel feature on my saw about once a year.
If you think you’ll use the bevel feature more often, then it might be worth getting a dual bevel saw so that you can use stop blocks and other accessories to make beveled cuts quick and repeatable.
Additionally, if you are pumping out projects professionally, and efficiency and time are important aspects of your job planning, a dual bevel miter saw is the best option for your woodworking needs.
But for the average home woodworker, a single bevel miter saw is probably fine. I’d put the extra money you’ll save by skipping that feature into other upgrades of the saw – like a sliding miter saw that can cut wider boards, or a nicer brand saw that has better accuracy.
Someday, when I upgrade from my Ryobi, I’d love to have this Bosch model, which has a unique sliding mechanism that can go up against the wall.
Note that it is a dual-bevel, because most higher-end miter saws are. But that feature is an extra bonus, not the reason I’d splurge for the saw.