Many industrial welding applications require beveling of surfaces to insure a strong and lasting weld.
This is especially true for large structures, heavy-duty equipment, and pipes that carry extreme loads or
that must withstand difficult or dangerous conditions.
Beveled surfaces allow deep contact in the base metal to be welded and allow molten metal to flow
uniformly within the reservoir that the bevel creates. Larger pipe walls increase the need of the
beveling process to achieve a thorough, strong and uniform weld that will hold up under operating
Without proper uniformity, a weld may have weak spots that can cause eventual failure. At the very
least, non-uniform bevels can make a welder’s job more difficult – especially under trying conditions
such as pipeline construction at a jobsite.
Poor beveling tools and technique can take away your welder’s margin of error at best and lead to time-
consuming and costly defects at worst. For example, a weld that fails inspection or an arc that crosses
outside of the bevel area (known as an “arc burn”) causes a huge disruption in pipeline construction
because of the collective costs of repair and project delays.
To handle a precision welding job properly, beveling tools must be capable of performing to all aspects
of the job specifications.
- Shape and Dimension – A proper beveling tool must handle all shapes and dimensions of both
starting material and finished bevel – including bevel depth and angle, shape (standard angle vs.
J-bevels or compound bevels), pipe inner and outer wall dimensions for pipe beveling, and plate
area dimensions for plate beveling.
- Materials – Beveling tools must be compatible with the material used. For example, if the alloy
used in a particular job contains heat-affected zones that can weaken the basic structure of the
alloy, it is important to choose a beveling tool that does not generate significant heat.
- Uniformity – Uniformity must be held in all dimensions over the entire weld area, which is
increasingly difficult over large plates or unusually shaped junctions. Check the uniformity and
precision specs on automated systems to see if they are adequate for a particular job. For hand-
held units, ease of use is just as important of a factor in maintaining a uniform bevel.
- Appropriate for Conditions – Using a hand-held beveler requires great skill to keep the bevel
to the required uniformity. Automated equipment is generally best for precision welding
preparation – however, there can be repair situations or other restricted space uses where a
hand-held beveler is the only method that can access the part.
- Speed – The best beveling tool will provide uniformity at the highest speed possible to keep
efficiency high. A good unit does not unnecessarily sacrifice speed to maintain a uniform bevel
– or vice versa.
Beveling can be an afterthought in the welding process, but it shouldn’t be. It is a fundamental part of
many welding jobs, and the correct choices of beveling tools can make the difference between success
and failure in precision welding applications.