Bowl Gouge vs Spindle Gouge

Bowl Gouge vs Spindle Gouge: Which is Right for Your Turning Projects?

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Woodturning is a special craft in which a wood lathe is used along with some tools to cut out a specific shape around the rotary axis. many different items are made such as tool handles, candlesticks, knobs, and many more. 

One of the most important parts of woodturning is a gouge. It is a chisel-shaped tool used to cut out curves and hollows with its rounded or angular tip. There are two main types of gouge: Bowl Gouge and Spindle Gouge. Here’s a brief on the definition of both Gouges.

Bowl Gouge

A Bowl Gouge is a hand tool that consists of a handle attached to a sturdy metal shaft. It is used to shape and cut bowls on a lathe. There is a central group in the metal shop present at the top portion which is also known as a flute. The flute can be U-shaped, V-shaped, or parabolic in shape. A bowl gouge has a sharp cutting edge at the tip which is ground with an angle bevel. This helps cut wood as the sharp tip rotates on a lathe. 

Pros and Cons of Bowl Gouge


  • By using a bowl gouge the material can be modified to rough out very quickly. The shaping and finishing of the wood bowl can be done quickly and efficiently.
  • The bowl gouge can be used as a multi-tool because of the presence of its side-cutting wings 
  • It can be used to remove the material very quickly after the spindle turns.


  • A bowl gouge has a bulky cutting edge and thus can’t be used in tight and closed spaces.
  • It can’t be used for intricate and delicate work
  • Since it is used more frequently, it has to be sharpened more often. 

With the help of a Bowl Gouge, one can cut various sizes and grinds without the help of any different turning tool if needed. A Bowl Gouge consists of a bevel, flute, heel, wing, and cutting edge. 

Spindle Gouge

A spindle gouge is a mainstay tool that has a round metal shaft and a less fortified tip as compared to the bowl gouge. This tool was specifically made for turning and shaping spindle projects and creating detailed cuts. 


  • Spindle Gouges are perfect for use in tight spaces and for making short details on the woodwork.
  • They can be used for making intricate textures and delicate patterns on bowl exteriors.
  • The perfect shape of the Spindle Gouge allows the material to reach compact areas where the bowl gouge can’t. 


  • Spindle gouges have a reduction of metal at the tip due to which it is advised not to use them for turning bowl interiors. It is considered dangerous.
  • A spindle gouge has a delicate cutting edge, so it can’t be over-extended beyond the tool rest support.
  • Since the tip of a spindle gouge is very delicate, it can’t be used for removing or turning material away more quickly.

Spindle gouges are also known as shallow flute gouges because they consist of shallower flutes. A fingernail gouge can be applied to shape the gouge end, which is then termed a fingernail gouge. 


While both the gouges look quite familiar, they have many different qualities and should be used for different turnings. They differ in the type of edges as well. Here’s a detailed description of the differences between Bowl Gouge and Spindle Gouge. 

Bowl Gouge Spindle Gouge 
It is used for the removal of a large amount of wood from the curve sides of a wood-turning bowlA Spindle Gouge can’t be used for the removal of bulk Wood. They are widely used for performing detailed work such as beads, ogee curves, and cove.
Bowl Gouges are used to make wood howls, and hollow or closed forms by cutting and shaping them. Bowl Gouges can be used without the help of any other chisels. They let you add the finest details and finishes to the woodwork.A spindle gouge allows you to create detailed work such as beads, coves, and many more on long and thin spindle workspaces.
In a bowl gouge, the flute is U/V or parabolic shaped. The V-shaped gouge also comes with a fingernail grind for various processes like detailing, finishing, and roughing.The spindle gouge has a shallower flute as compared to the bowl gouge. 
Bowl Gouge was mostly made of High Carbon Steel. But due to the disadvantage of wearing down, there’s an upgrade in the material. The cryogenic treated M2 steel is now used to prepare Bowl Gouge since it lasts longer.The spindle gouge is mostly made from round stock and is usually fluted in the same process as the spindle gouge by using a relatively strong tang. Spindle gouges are made from High-speed Steel. This type of gouge is relatively flatter than the bowl gouge. 
The bevel angle for Bowl Gouges usually is at 40-40grind, fingernail grin, traditional grind, micro bevel grind, and sept back grind.In the case of a spindle gouge, the bevel anger is much lower than that of the bowl gouge. It is normally at 25-35° angles and can also go up to 45°. 
A bowl gouge is much stronger than a spindle gouge because of the hardbound stock material used for its creation. Along with the material, the bowl gouge is stronger because of the shape of the flute. The V-shaped flute has a lesser chance of getting bent as compared to the spindle gouge.The spindle gouge is not much stronger because it has a U-shaped flute. It can be bent more easily than the bowl gouge.
A bowl gouge should be sharpened more often because it is widely used on the stronger as well as the larger portion of the log.The spindle gouge doesn’t have a longer usage time, because it is mostly used for details and finishing. Therefore they don’t require to be sharpened regularly.
The cutting edge of a bowl gouge isn’t as sharp as the spindle gouge since it is mostly used in larger spaces on the woodwork.The cutting edge of a spindle gouge is thinner and sharper than that of the bowl gouge. It helps in getting finer and more intense work.
A bowl gouge has a bulky tip as compared to a spindle gouge. This doesn’t allow the gouge to work in tighter and more intense places of the woodwork.A Spindle Gouge has a pointed sharpened tip which is perfect for intricate work in tighter and closed spaces in woodwork. It also comes in handy when you require a close deep cut since a bowl gouge can’t be used here.

Thus, both Bowl Gouge and Spindle Gouge have their advantages and disadvantages. However, both gouges are required in order to get more efficient and perfectly finished woodwork. 


Q: Can we turn the spindle by using a bowl gouge?

The spindle mostly can be turned by the use of a bowl gouge. However, you won’t get the sharp and detailed cuts that are possible only with spindle gouges.

Q: What is the biggest disadvantage of a bowl gouge?

The biggest disadvantage of a bowl gouge is that it can’t be used in closed and compact spaces during the woodwork. This results in the failure of getting finer and more detailed cuts. 

Q: What is the bevel angle for a spindle gouge?

The most common bevel angle for a spindle gouge is 25-35° angles. It can’t also be extended up to 45° angles when required.

Q: What is the best bowl gouge size?

If you are working with different-sized bowls, a ½” Gouge is ideal, whereas, for a bowl between 12″ to 15″, a ⅝” bowl gouge should be used. And for bowls with a larger size, a ¾” bowl gouge should be used.

Q. What is the best spindle gouge size?

The best size for a spindle gouge is ½” since it helps to get a much finer and more detailed work for shaping.


Woodturning is a complicated process and can be dangerous as well. Thus, take adequate precautions such as using a face shield, and riding the bevel at the given angle in order to avoid catches. Use the Bowl Gouge and Spindle Gouge for their respective works. A spindle gouge should be used for more intricate works whereas a Bowl Gouge should be used for roughing out the surfaces.  

Refer to the article for a detailed explanation of the difference between the bowl gouge and the spindle gouge. 

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Hi, my name is Charles Winn, A DIY enthusiast, Mechanical Engineer. I was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri. I am also a father of two troublemaker kids, a terrible photographer, and I love to play chess.

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