Bowl Gouge Vs Spindle Gouge: What Are the Differences?

At first glance, both spindle gouge and bowl gouge look very much similar. But that’s all there is to them. Apart from looking similar, they perform very different tasks. That is why using them for their intended purposes is not only efficient but also safe.

In this article, we’ll have a look at the differences between bowl gouge vs spindle gouge in a detailed way along with their advantages and disadvantages of use.

What Is a Bowl Gouge?

A bowl gouge is used for producing wooden bowls, dishes, platters, and other hollow forms. Nowadays, bowl gouges are manufactured with very high standards. It is the most commonly used tool for woodturners.

This tool has a metal exterior shaft that is round. Its interior is curved, known as a flute. The exterior round portion is known as the rod. This solid round rod makes the gouge extremely strong. The internal flute can be of different shapes, for example, U-shape, V-shape, etc.

A bowl gouge has about 16″ long handles for increased leverage. This tool is used to extract or remove a large amount of material as well as finesse the smooth cuts of the interior side of the bowl. You can create an entire wooden bowl with this diverse and versatile tool.

Types of Bowl Gouges

Bowl gouges are multiple types in terms of their cutting-edge profiles. You can easily identify the different bowl gouges by looking at their cutting tips.

This is the entire curved area at the top edge of the tool. You can check the sharpness of this edge by gently rubbing your finger around it.

Now, this shape of the cutting-edge is also called the tool’s grind. There are three types of grind; traditional grind, fingernail grind, and Irish or Ellsworth grind.

What Is a Spindle Gouge?

A spindle gouge, unlike the bowl gouge, has a wider and a shallower-U shaped flute, which divides the metal shaft in half. This round metal shaft is also called cutting-edge. It is a traditional turner’s tool and a workhorse for all except a dedicated bowl turner of course.

The spindle gouge is used for all kinds of spindle turning, such as chair legs, jugs, flower vase, balusters, and the like. The cutting-edge of this tool can be sharpened to a fine and thin tip, which would be ideal for detailed cuts on spindles.

Moreover, the tip of the spindle gouge is less fortified than that of bowl gouge because of less material surrounding it.

Types of Spindle Gouge

A spindle gouge’s bevel can also be sharpened to a variety of angles like a bowl gouge. This angle will tell how much control can the turner have while cutting and also the specific details of it.

Every woodturner has multiple spindle gouges with different bevel tips. The radius of the cutting tip can vary, but the overall design remains shallow. The different types of this gouge depend on the angle, and it typically ranges from 1/4″ to 1″ in width.

Difference Between a Bowl Gouge Vs Spindle Gouge

As we have mentioned earlier, although it looks similar to an inexperienced person, both bowl and spindle gouge are quite different in their tasks.

Flute Shape

The biggest difference both has is with the shape of the flute. Different flute structure affects how the nose presents itself to the wood.

The spindle gouge has shallower flat-across grind than the bowl gouge, with a bevel usually between 25 to 40 degrees.

As a result, the tip comes to a point. This shallow size allows a better shaving clearance and is more helpful for details and spindle turnings.

A standard bowl gouge, on the other hand, is curved with wings and has a fingernail grind. Its flute is deeper, and the bevel falls between 40 to 60 degrees. The fingernail profile ensures the wings are well back from the workpiece allowing maximum maneuverability while cutting.


One of the reasons for inventing bowl gouges was because, while turning a bowl’s inner side, the longer section remains unsupported. The bowl gouge has a deep flute which makes it stronger. But if you use a spindle gouge to hollow out the bowl, it could easily get bent.

The form of the spindle gouge makes it difficult to be used inside a bowl. Its pointy tip and high corners could wander into the wood, scratching the surface hard.

In addition, the tool will also get slammed onto the rest with a great force, eventually breaking the handle, bending the whole thing.


You will hardly ever find a bowl gouge with a pointed nose or bevel angle like a spindle gouge. Similarly, a spindle gouge with such a flat nose angle wouldn’t be too efficient or useful.

Now, if you want to grind them the same, you might get a similar outcome out of their job. But the high wings of the bowl gouge make it way easier to grind than spindle gouge.

That is why, a bowl gouge comes in many forms of grind, namely Ellsworth grind, Irish grind, etc. Although, the tip of an Ellsworth gouge can only cut a rounded inside corner.

Besides, since the flute shape makes all the difference in the cutting-edge angle along with these high wings, so even if the gouges were swept back the same amount in the grind, the spindle gouge will still have a more acute-angled edge along with its wings.


As for the thickness, the deep flute makes the bottom thicker in the bowl gouge than on the sides. And on a spindle gouge, the metal is close to the same thickness all around.


Apart from finishing the surface of a wooden bowl, you can modify the bowl gouge to rough out material and shape intricate curves.

The extra metal on its tip makes it possible to extend it beyond the tool rest edge. This attribute is crucial while turning a deep bowl’s inner side.

On the other hand, a spindle gouge directly picks up where the bowl gouge cannot reach on the bowl exterior. In order to make intricate textures and patterns besides doing delicate spindle works, spindle gouges do wonders.

A bowl gouge has many different cutting techniques making it valuable for using a swept-back bevel angle on a bowl gouge. A spindle gouge is able to cut an inward dovetail angle easily, which is impossible to do with a bowl gouge.

Another great advantage of spindle gouge over bowl gouge is that it doesn’t require to be sharpened as frequently as a bowl gouge.


A bowl gouge is bulkier than a spindle gouge. So, it is not ideal for detailed works and tight spaces. Besides, since the tool is used to clear off a large amount of material, it requires to be sharpened often.

On the flip side, you should never use a spindle gouge to turn the inside of a bowl. Due to the reduced amount of metal on its tip, turning bowl interiors with it is dangerous as the tip could be snapped off, causing accidents.

Final Words

We hope this article was able to explain to you fully the differences between bowl gouge vs spindle gouge.

Although each of them has a few disadvantages, their usefulness far outweighs them. That’s why you can accomplish great tasks by capitalizing on their strengths.

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