Bahco Sliding Bevels Keep on Sliding After Lockdown
For more information on the Sliding Bevel, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.
Sliding bevels can be had on eBay as easy as wink and I have been testing them out for a while. I pretty much know which ones work well but I wanted some up to date info on ones available. The first ones I chose to purchase appeared to look fine; models you might buy on appearance or by a reputable name.
One thing I think is most important is that once the locking mechanism is locked down it should indeed truly lock. If sliding bevels means slipping and shifting beams then that can translate into inaccurate cut and pencil lines and then there’s the risk in transferring angles from one critical point to another.
The first thing I look for in using a sliding bevel is a lock mechanism within itself that requires no second part to cinch everything down. I bought the two shown top right because I thought these might satisfy my requirement. The first one I tried was the Bahco sliding bevel. I was surprised that this tool was made in China first of all. The tool looked solidly built and I slipped the beam back and forth and locked it via the mechanism expecting it to make the beam totally immovable. Not the case at all. What I always wonder, especially with reputable makers, is how they can allow a product to come into the hands of a consumer that simply doesn’t work. I mean why risk their reputation on such incompetence when the product they are having made could actually be made to work in the first place.
I did have high hopes for this one, one because of the price and the other because of the name of the maker. I set the angle and twisted, the thumbscrew pinched the beam and it shifted with hardly any pressure at all. I tried many times and even with my strong fingers and thumbs could not lock the beam to the stock. Finally I took a spoon handle inside and realised I was doing the very thing I wanted to avoid and introduced a second entity to lock the beam. The extra leverage made almost no difference at all though. The beam shift was just too soft, too easy and too much. I know it should work and other similar looking products do work, but this one doesn’t work well at all.
The second sliding bevel was a third of the price at just over £4 with free shipping and taxes included. This one has a knurled nut lock down that’s made from stainless steel like the Bahco but the stock is made from hardwood that looks like and could be rosewood and stainless steel fitments. The beam has both metric and imperial measurements for measuring and all seemed to be acceptably made until I cinched the setscrew tight and lo and behold it seems about the same as the Bahco. Overall I felt this tool might be a working tool so I cut off the sides of the locking nut on both sides at an angle so that I could apply better leverage and that worked just fine. This took only a couple of minutes to do with a hacksaw and a flat file. I’ll keep this one.
The last one was one I was used to and an old model I have used for a couple of decades made by another maker from the early half of the last century. This one locked down fine, probably because of the good leverage that optimised purchase.
I wonder how many Bahco sliding bevels have been sold to unsuspecting purchasers? Do you think that Bahco cares at all? I think not, but then I have to wonder to myself, why?
I did hear back from Bahco straight away and they said:
“Thank you. We contacted immediately our product management for this issue. We will contact you again very soon.”
As soon as I hear more I will post on the progress. I appreciate the fact that Bahco responded so positively.
Hi Paul, I bought a Bahco bevel like the one in your post just recently and I couldn’t get it to lock solidly either. I’m new to woodworking and I bought it because it had an end locking mechanism like the Stanley #18 which many reviewers claim to be superior because the end mechanism allows you to lay either side of the bevel flat against the work without the locking mechanism getting in the way. Is this realistically an issue in your experience? Also, is there a particular size bevel that’s appropriate for someone starting out with smaller projects. I was looking at a 10″ Shinwa bevel but it seemed to be getting rave reviews from roofers which lead me to think it might be on the big side.
Thanks for the amazing resource that is your blog btw. I check in every day.
It can be and that’s why I wanted to give Bahco a chance because I liked the look and feel of it out of the package too. They should be ashamed, but they are too big to be ashamed. Some execs just do not know their products and neither do the sales staff either. The man that designed this should be ashamed if his lack of interest. He wanted the look but not the function. This is when function follows fashion.
There are many times you want the sliding bevel to lay flat in a situation for really practical reasons and that’s when wing nuts, though they do cinch tight, get in the way some times. You can’t beat the screwdriver at the end of the day. `they may not be quite so convenient, but for something immoveable and not too expensive, they do the trick.
The Shinwa sliding bevel also comes in a smaller 8 inch size. Which I like better for wood working.
I would assume that there are no woodworking craftsmen on any of the teams; marketing, sales, design, or manufacturing. If there are any on these teams, I hope they are trying to improve quality.
Such a shame….. I have several Bahco files, a card scraper, and a small hacksaw and have been pleased with them, especially the files (which I believe are made in Portugal). Why must companies like them and Stanley sacrifice quality to make a few extra dollars?
It’s funny though, the Stanley 5025, even though plastic, locks really well. I have used one of these for decades and it was one of their first plastic ones. I still lament the loss of wood and the production of goods in plastic though.
I have an older plastic Stanley. It’s ugly but it works. Not sure who gave it to me or where I got it. The blade was rusty. I cleaned it up and it worked on the dovetails I cut at Christmas time.
I’m OK for now. But I’ll keep my eyes open for a nice old Stanley model. The 18 is the one I want to look for?
As far as I can see this isn’t a quality control issue its a design fault, whoever designed the thing hasn’t got a clue about its function and has no interest in how it is used. They just wanted to make it look a certain way and have a particular look and that was enough. It is very sad that more and more tool manufacturers are going this way and its not about manufacturing costs either. This sliding bevel is a classic example of something that could have easily have been made perfectly functional without increasing manufacturing costs.
This is as I said when function follows form instead of form following function. I doubt that Bahco wants to produce a non functioning tool but I do know that someone somewhere needs to take responsibility for it. Imagine Rolls Royce producing what is currently the world’s most efficient aero engine, the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB, which powers the new Airbus A350 XWB and then when someone asks for a demo they say, Oh, it doesn’t actually work. Look at the shape and the size. Isn’t it lovely looking?
Like you, I used a cheap plastic handled bevel for many years, as the only affordable option at the time. Mine was unfortunately a Chinese copy, but worked well enough. However, the large wing nut did sometimes get in the way by extending beyond the sides or end of the stock, and I ended up shortening the ‘wings’ to try to remove that objection. The result of that was that it became difficult to lock sufficiently firmly.
I now have a nice old rosewood stocked bevel with no manufacturer’s name, but in every way similar to a Rabone one, with the single locking lever like the one you now use. This projects from the side to be handy for a thumb but lines up with the stock when locked, and never a hint of not locking firmly.
The Bahco bevel you show has the additional fault that it will not lie flat on either side, if the loop on the bottom finishes up across the stock. Did you investigate how that system works, and whether it could be improved in some way, inside?
I always had a great regard for Bahco tools, and use some of their files, saws and a combination square. I am very disappointed to hear of the bevel letting you, and all of us, down.
I understand your frustration with the Bahco sliding bevel.
If I may say, I would strongly you to get the Shinwa sliding bevel. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
All the best,
Sorry everyone. Don’t feel sorry for me. The point in this was to find out which of the sliding bevels do or don’t work. I have about 20 sliding bevels and all of them work just fine. In the process it was interesting to see how poorly some of them work because of bad design.
Sorry, here is a link for you:
Paul, what was your criteria for choosing these three bevels?
As Aidan mentions, the Stanley 18 is solid when locked. When I got mine I IMMEDIATELY tore into it to see what alien technology held that blade SO securely.
Then onto my next question – If Stanley and Shinwa can do it, why not some little guy in a hut in Asia???
There is a ton of sliding bevels on Ebay starting around $7.00 USD. One or two 6″ bevels are like the one I inherited from my father; about 80+ years old and still going. The bevel that is.
I had a similar experience with a Bahco product – a 6″ combination square. It wasn’t even remotely square. I could draw a line with it, flip the square over and draw another, and after 6 inches the lines were well over a millimetre apart. I sent it back, and got a refund, but I felt almost personally affronted, because I have various Bahco gardening tools (bowsaw, loppers, axe) which I’ve been happy with, and it’s always nice to find a brand that you think you can trust when you’re buying online (which I generally do, because I live a long way from any shops).
Bahco tweeted back this morning and said they were looking into the product and will get back to us shortly. When we have more info we will let everyone know.
I found my sliding bevel in the basement of an antique store for five dollars. Rosewood handle, nice arm. When it is locked down it is not moving. It seems as though it is very old but I am not sure. Antique stores do not always have good deals, but sometimes they surprise you!
This strikes a cord Paul, I stood on a stand at last years Harrogate show and went through all 8 Bahco bevels, but couldn’t get one to lock properly, so left without buying. I also saw similar bevels in other brand colours whilst there.
I saw what looks like the same orange bevel with Swanson Savage branding, in the U.S. at Home Depot and Amazon’s websites, good to know that it doesn’t lock down like my Stanley and Shinwa.
Glad to see a post tackling this issue. I bought a no-name aluminium stock, steel blade bevel with that dubious assumption, “how could it possibly go wrong”? I had the same issue as you have outlined here Mr Sellers, but more than that I found that the sharp edges on the blade cut into the groove in the stock and over time made it even less effective. Now the slightest tap will move the blade and I will need to buy another.
I am always grateful for the advice you offer for free through this blog, the more people who are aware of exactly this sort of issue, and what to look for before they buy, the fewer will end up finding out about it when it ruins their work.
I have seen other tools from Bahco being reviewed on You Tube and blogs. They did not fare well there either. Looks like a brand to avoid.
A bit late to be commenting here, perhaps, but the following might be useful to someone even though it’s rather obvious.
It’s possible to fix a slipping wooden bevel by putting in a star washer next to the blade, then tightening up hard so the washer beds into the wood. Thereafter, the blade will lock with little effort. I don’t know how long this fix will last, but it’s working for me on an old ebony bevel.
Do you recommend the veritas sliding bevels? They are pricy though.
I do indeed. Lifetime, top quality equipment. I love mine through and through. The adjustable lockdown means rock-solid with a single handed thumb press. Amortise the cost over a lifetime and it will put things into perspective a little.
Well, 3 years and 4 months have passed now. Did Bahco ever resolve the problem and get back to Paul? I had hoped – but not expected – Bahco to uphold higher standards than other bigger names, so sad to read this.
I was impressed by Faithfull’s response to a complaint I made: they responded immediately, changed the product & sent me one of the improved models later. It was indeed a much better product; they did not address all of my points but they addressed the most important ones.
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