How to Bevel Heavy Wall Pipe (3 Simple Tips)
Updated: Jun 21
Whether you're on a jobsite or in the shop, if you're fabricating pipe for industrial plants odds are you'll encounter some heavy wall piping at some point and need to prep it properly to be welded. We've put together this short guide for beveling heavy wall pipe.
Choose Your Pipe Beveling Machine
First, you'll want to choose the right machine for the job. There are several ways to cut, bevel and counterbore pipe both in the shop and field and you'll have to decide what will work best for your specific application. Couple things to consider:
a. What kind of weld prep is needed? - A common weld prep for heavy wall pipe is a 37-10 compound bevel with a counterbore. This is not to be confused with a J-bevel which is actually a curved weld prep that creates a U-shaped weld joint when the pipe it fitted up. The 37-10 bevel can be cut to create a knife-edge finish or a landing can be left (this depends on the type of welding being done and what is preferred). Like it sounds, this bevel begins with a common 37.5 degree bevel then transitions into a 10 degree bevel on the outer most diameter of the pipe. This is done to narrow the weld gap needed as the welder makes continued welding passes. We have the appropriate tooling to create different bevel degrees, shapes and counterbores depending in your project's specifications. Since all our tooling is cut in-house and made in the USA, we can even cut custom tooling for you on a very quick turnaround.
b. Will you have access to air or electricity? - You'll want to consider what types of power sources will be available to you for the project and take this into account when ordering rental equipment.
c. Do you need to cut, bevel and counterbore? - If you need to do all three, there is a specific machine, the "CoHog" splitframe clamshell from Esco Tool that might be the most time efficient especially if in a hard to reach area with limited radial clearance around the workpiece. If you only need to bevel and counterbore, the appropriate model and size Millhog pipe beveling tool from Esco Tool will likely be the easiest and quickest way to bevel the pipe.
We essentially have 2 methods to cutting, beveling and counterboring pipe in the shop and field:
(1) the Millhog line of pipe beveling and counterboring machines. These machines run off pneumatic or electric drive motors, and the different models cover pipe from .5" ID - 36" OD. These machines have been manufactured in Massachusetts for over 65 years and are the original ID-mounted pipe beveling tool. These machines are ideal for beveling and counterboring pipe both in the shop and field. The Millhog line of pipe bevelers are super simple to setup and operate and require no special training. However, if you feel that your fitters would benefit from a training we are happy to facilitate an onsite training to get your crew up to speed. These machines can simultaneously bevel, face and counterbore pipe of various wall thicknesses and materials using their tool blades.
Here is a short video demonstrating how the Esco Tool Millhog line of pipe beveling machines work:
(2) The CoHog Splitframe Clamshell machine from Esco Tool. These machines are essentially a portable lathe that mount to the outside diameter (OD) of the pipe and drive a sever
blade and a bevel blade into the pipe as the rotating ring makes its rotations. These lightweight, yet rigid machines make light work of heavy wall or high alloy applications and are perfect for field service. While these machines do require some knowledge and training, the work flow and end prep quality that these machines can produce in the field is excellent especially compared to flame cutting and grinding bevels. This machine is preferred if you will need to make a cut, bevel and counterbore a piece of pipe in the field. It is especially useful for heavy wall applications in hard to reach areas with a tight radial clearance around the workpiece. These machines are available in pneumatic, electric or hydraulic drive options. We recommend using a one 3/8” parting blade followed by a second 1/4” parting blade to make the sever first. Then attach the counterbore module to the tool slide to create the counterbore. Lastly you’ll create the bevel by attaching the 37-10 compound bevel tool slide, which we now have available in a cost-effective tool insert design as opposed to traditional high speed steel form tooling which doesn’t last as long as our titanium nitride coated high speed steel insert tooling and costs more per blade.
Here is a short video demonstrating the Esco Tool Cohog splitframe clamshell machine:
Find The Right Feed and Speed
Okay so now you've taken into account all the factors for your project and you've decided on the machine you will use for the heavy wall pipe beveling. Now you'll want to determine how fast to run the machine and how aggressively to advance your tooling into the workpiece. Couple things to consider when feeling out your speed and feed:
a. Pipe Material - is this a carbon steel application or a higher alloy material? If higher alloy material, you will want to slow down your speed but be careful not to be too timid with your tooling feed rate. Even with a slower speed, if your feed rate is not aggressive enough you'll end up burning through tooling unnecessarily fast which will cost you more. You should also consider using Esco's Hard Lube blades for high alloy materials; these blades will give you greater tool life and a better cut.
b. Chatter - are you getting chatter when beveling? If so you can try a slower speed with a more aggressive feed rate. You can try a faster speed with a less aggressive feed rate. You can also try using 2 or more bevel blades to spread the load and minimize the tool travel distance. And lastly you can try introducing a cooling/lubricating agent to the operation.
c. Machine size - are you at the maximum end of your tool's pipe size and wall thickness? If so you may want to consider slowing things down quite a bit and using multiple blades at the same time to spread the beveling load and reduce the bevel distance for each blade.
Use Pipe Fitup Tools to Make Life Easier
In today's world, you no longer need to fight with chains, dogs and comealongs to get heavy pipe aligned and ready to weld
. We now have the QF Innovations line of pipe alignment and fitup tools to help make the job easier, especially on heavy wall applications. Created by a Canadian pipeline welder, these tools not only pull heavy pipes together with 15 tons of force, but they also control the push-pull and high-low alignment for a super precise weld-gap. These tools can also be used with the CoHog splitframe clamshell to hold and align the clamshell onto vertical pipes. This allows the operator to square the clamshell to the vertical pipe using set-screws. These fitup tools are modular and can be combined to accommodate any pipe OD size. The QF Innovations line of pipe fitup tools are an excellent tool for pipe fitters working in the field.
Owner - GSI Inc