Welding Bevel Basics – Understanding the Basics of Metal Beveling
For us who know how to weld, we know that welding metals together can be easy. Like if you want to join together two flat bars or two metal pipes all you have to do is tack weld two spots along the line where the two metals meet followed by MIG welding.
However, we also know that simply welding two ends of the metals is not enough for the solid fusion to take place because the welding material may not be able to penetrate the gap which leaves the welded part vulnerable to breakage.
So there have to be some ways to make the joints not prone to fracture and one of the best solutions that welders do today is creating welding bevel prior to joint welding.
What is Bevel Welding?
Bevel welding is the process of edging the points of two metals where they are supposed to be welded together. This simply means creating a space by reducing parts of the butt ends of two pieces of metals so that there would be a place for the welding electrode to settle and penetrate the gap.
For example, if you want to weld two flat stainless steel bars, you have to cut each bar’s square edge into a slope so that when these pieces are put on end to end the space they form will shape like the “letter V” or “letter U”. This gap is where you could fill the weld electrode during welding.
In essence, welders know that welding bevels can soften the edge of any metal so that what could be produced after welding is a wear-resistant metal structure with better aesthetic appeal and have more metal fillings.
Beveling can be done even on thin metal sheets before the welding procedure. For flat bars and rods, you can either use an angle grinder for a quick angling job. You also have an option to use automatic beveling machines if you need to bevel a lot of thick metals altogether.
Bevel welding requires only less current for your MIG welder which is just enough to melt the electrode, fill the groove and fuse the metals. You can either use a low-amp MIG welder or TIG welder on 110 volts and this is good news for those who want to practice welding bevel before they could start with larger projects.
Types of Welding Bevels
Some welders who do bevel welding call the points to where they fuse the metals the “weld joints” or the “butt joints” simply because these are the endpoints to where they will be trimming, shaping and welding up the metals.
There are also a variety of bevels that welders do. We have the single bevel where only one end of the metal pieces is angled up, the double bevel where the end of the metal is beveled on both sides, and the bevel shapes that can form the letters J, V and U.
These welding bevel designs are believed to have tougher constructions compared to the square and closed square welding methods. The square welding is proceeded by creating a small gap between two metals for the weld to settle while the closed square gap is the welding of the two edges without the gap.
As such, the letter bevel welding designs also have some pros and cons which every newbie in welding should know.
The V Bevel
The single bevel requires that the endpoints of both metal pieces should have constant angles relative to each other thus forming the letter V. Such design is known as the V bevel and the gap that is formed will be filled with molten electrodes that can provide the tight bond between the two metals.
The good thing about this type of bevel welding aside from having a more solid hold is that this design is easier to accomplish because of the simplicity of the procedure. However, you have to be accurate in creating the V bevel as both the angled points of each metal piece must be exactly equal in measurements.
Moreover, the disadvantage of this design is that the gradient or thickness of the weld on both sides of the metals will not be uniformed. This means that if the top layer of the weld is thick, the welding on the bottom with the gap would only be minimal. The V bevel is also thought to require more weld filling because of the large gap which can translate to larger welding cost.
If you are to weld thick metal pipes, the V bevel is more acceptable since you cannot weld the inside of the pipe. But for flat metal bars, you have the option to go for the single V or the double V bevel.
The U Bevel
Another popular design among the welding bevels is the U bevel. The single U bevel is done by shaping both of the metal pieces’ endpoints into slopes so that when they meet on ends they form a gap like a letter “U”.
For most newbie welders, the slopes can be a bit difficult to create but once you have done the U bevel twice or thrice you are good to go.
The J Bevel
The J bevel cut is shaped like the letter J in which the edge of the metal is trimmed up by creating a sliding cut which forms the letter J. Unlike with the V bevel that forms a sharp 22-degree angle, the angle of the J bevel is not consistent as the upper part is sharp but it curves down the slope.
If there is the single J, there is also the double J bevel which means the single endpoint of the metal is J beveled on both sides. While the design of this welding bevel can also hold a firmer joint, some welders say the double J takes a lot of electrodes in filling up the gap compared to the V bevel. You may also need a beveling machine to do two smooth curves on a single piece. So literally the double J bevel takes a lot of skills and can fatigue your hands easily especially if you have to bevel lots of joints.
Nonetheless, the advantage of doing the single J bevel is that the bonding layer can be more uniformed while it covers a larger section of the joints and only requires less welding materials.
Can Sheet Metals, Square Tubes or Pipes Be Beveled?
Like everybody else, you may be wondering if you can bevel flat hollow bars, metal sheets and pipes. Well, any metal that is ¼ of an inch thin flat or round can be beveled.
Sheet metal as thin as a 20 gauge (.81mm) can be difficult to bevel using an angle grinder. However, you can now buy a manual beveling tool that will let you bevel sheet metals as thin as an 18-gauge sheet.
There’s also the pneumatic version for beveling for thin metal sheets that can give you a hand for faster beveling. Without beveling thin sheets, you have no choice but to weld the surface of the metals and create an ugly like-scar on the metal surface.
Doing welding bevels on square tubes is also not a problem. If you know how to do flare bevel welding which is the process of welding two square tubes or welding a bar to a flat metal without cutting any part of the metals, all you need to do is fill up the gap or any opening you can find on the curves.
For metal pipes in preparation for bevel welding, most welders only use angle grinders to create sloping bevels right on the circle of the pipes so that when the ends meet they form a sloping gap. Once this sloping gap is filled up, you can refine the weld using an angle grinder to produce a more streamlined surface.
Creating a welding bevel is seen as a very complicated work especially for beginners because it may require a lot of measurements, calculations and trials and error. But once you get to know how to measure and calculate bevels you can use your angle grinder like a magic wand and you’ll be able to bevel any kind of metal with various thicknesses.
Judging from what you have learned here, I supposed you now understand the significance of doing a welding bevel and how each of these welding bevels could give you the toughness you need for your metal construction.
My advice is that if you are to bevel thick metals and you can’t afford to do it, better take your metals to large machine shops that have automatic beveling machines. These machines can create any kind of bevels with accurate measurements and can bevel up metals up 48-inch thick.
You can also watch the actual process of welding bevels on Youtube and I am pretty sure you will learn lots from them.