The difference between single and double bevel compound miter saws

When you consider purchasing a compound miter saw it may not be immediately obvious what type of saw you should get. There are many different types and models of miter saws and the differences between them can get a little blurry. Knowing that you want to be able to do bevel cuts as well as miter cuts is the first step. At that point, you know you are going to be looking at compound miter saws. After that, however, it can start to get a little tricky.

One question I get asked fairly often is, “Should I get a single or dual bevel compound miter saw?” The short answer I normally give is, “It depends on the job you want to do.” But I know that isn’t the answer you’re looking for here because, honestly, I know it isn’t much help. So in this article I’m going to go over the basic features of both single and dual bevels, how they differ, and what type of tasks each one is best suited for.

Single Bevel Compound Miter Saws

For projects that require you to make angles cuts in two planes like crown molding and picture frames, a single bevel compound miter saw will usually be sufficient. This type of miter saw has a pivoting function that lets you make angled cuts on the left or the right. It can also make bevel cuts, but only in one direction, which is why it is called “single bevel”. You can also manipulate the saw on both axes when you want compound miter cuts. The Makita LS1040, which I reviewed elsewhere on this site, is a good example of a single bevel compound miter saw.

Basically, you can use a single bevel compound miter saw to make miter and bevel cuts independently or at the same time, but the bevel cuts can only be made in one direction, either left or right. If you need a bevel cut on both sides of your material, you will have to physically flip over your workpiece. When you do this, you have to be very careful to get the angles correct. If you mess up the angle on one end, you will have to discard your material and start again with a fresh piece. Needless to say, this can cost you more time and money than necessary and it can be extremely frustrating.

Dual Bevel Compound Miter Saws

The main difference between a single bevel and a dual bevel compound miter saw is that with the dual bevel you won’t have to flip your workpiece to make bevel cuts on both sides. This is because you are able to swing the saw itself to make your matching bevel cuts. A dual bevel, such as the Milwaukee 6955-20 (which I also reviewed), makes it a lot easier to make matching multiple cuts. This is especially helpful for making repeat cuts when working with pieces like crown molding, as it will allow you to get the job done much faster than using a single bevel saw.

If quality is what you are after, though, a dual bevel is not necessarily your best option. In my experience, while a dual bevel will certainly help you make cuts faster, a single bevel will usually be more accurate. You will also find that there is a difference in price between the two types of saws, with dual bevel models typically being more expensive.

The Bottom Line Regarding Bevels

For me, it all comes down to convenience. A single bevel compound miter saw is capable of doing the same jobs as a dual bevel, but you have to put a little more work into it and it will take you a bit more time to do the job. If you don’t want to spend the extra dollars to buy a dual bevel model, you absolutely don’t have to. I used a single bevel saw for several years and was able to use it to make my compound cuts just fine. I actually think it helped me become a better craftsman because I had to make the adjustments manually to get my cuts right. There is no denying, however, that a dual bevel is more convenient and will let you do the same types of jobs faster.