August 22, 2022
If you are a seasoned woodturner, you will quickly recognize the difference between the bowl gouge and spindle gouge. But if you are a tyro in woodworking, you might mistake the bowl gouge for the spindle gouge and vice versa. Apart from seemingly looking the same, the bowl gouge and the spindle gouge are starkly different. Thus, it will be best to know the difference between these two gouges and their intended usages at the onset of your woodturning career. In this way, you can safely use them as well as maximize their usage.
You will quickly recognize the difference in their shapes when you hold the bowl gouge and spindle gouge up close. The bowl gouge’s flute is more of a “U” shape, while the spindle gouge is more like an open flat curve. Moreover, they have different intended usages. Hence, as you read on through this post, you will learn about these differences.
The Stark Differences Between A Bowl Gouge and Spindle Gouge.
There are obvious differences between the bowl and spindle gouges. As you gain experience in woodturning and become familiar with the different woodturning tasks at hand, you will soon understand these differences. Below, I have delineated the obvious and subtle differences between these two woodturning gouges:
Their Flute Shapes Differ
As mentioned above, the most obvious difference between these two gouges is their flute shapes. This difference in the flute shape determines how the nose presents and touches wood. On the one hand, the spindle gouge features a shallower and flatter-across-the-grind flute than that of the bowl gouge.
It also has from 35- to 40-degree bevel angle. For this reason, its tip is a bit pointed compared to the bowl gouge. Moreover, its shallower size offers a better clearance. It is also more suitable for detailed and spindle turnings.
On the other hand, the bowl gouge features a more curved flute with wings. It also features a fingernail grind. Moreover, it has a deeper flute, and its bevel is between 40-60 degrees. Plus, its fingernail profile makes sure that the wings are well onto the workpiece to allow for maximum maneuverability during the cutting process.
As you begin to use different types of bowl gouge, you will discover that there is hardly any bowl gouge with a characteristic bevel angle or pointed nose. The reason for this is that the bowl gouge with a pointed nose will not be that efficient.
Similarly, a flat nose angle spindle gouge will also never be as helpful and efficient as that of a pointed bowl gouge. Moreover, you may get the same outcome out of these two different gouges if you grind them. Nevertheless, the bowl gouge’s high wings facilitate better the grinding process as compared to the spindle gouge. For this reason, the bowl gouge comes in different forms of grind, examples of which are the Irish grind and Ellsworth grind.
Moreover, the flute shape affects the cutting-edge angle as well as the high wings. Hence, although the gouges got swept back in the grind, the spindle gouge will still achieve an edge with a more acute angle with its wings.
When you turn the bowl’s inner side, you will notice that the longer section stays unsupported. It is one of the reasons the bowl gouge got invented. The bowl gouge, of course, features a deep flute that makes it very strong for hollowing out the bowl.
On the other hand, if you utilize a spindle gouge for hollowing a bowl, the spindle can get easily bent. This is because the design of the spindle gouge makes it challenging to engage the inside of the bowl.
Its high corners and pointy tip tend to wander into the wood and scratch the wood’s hard surface. It also gets slammed into the tool rest with great intensity, which will eventually break its handle and bend the whole thing.
When it comes to thickness, the bowl gouge’s deep flute leaves the bottom thicker than the sides. Nevertheless, the metal of the spindle gouge exhibits almost similar thickness throughout.
The use of the spindle gouge is not without disadvantages. Here, I have delineated the advantages and disadvantages of spindle gouge:
Advantages of Using Spindle Gouge
The spindle gouge fares well in tight crevices and when gouging sharp areas as compared to bowl gouge. The reason for this is that the bowl gouge has a slightly larger cutting tip. Moreover, you can use the spindle gouge to access any area that the bowl gouge finds hard to access. You can also use the spindle gouge when working on bowl exteriors.
Besides, you can use it for creating a perfect tenon. Another thing is that since woodturners use more frequently the bowl gouge, it needs frequent sharpening as compared to spindle gouge. Plus, cutting any inward dovetail angle is a piece of cake for the spindle gouge. Lastly, you can utilize the spindle gouge to make an area of flat tenon shoulder.
Disadvantages of Using Spindle Gouge
The spindle gouge has a reduced tip. Hence, it is not advisable to use a spindle gouge for turning bowl interiors, for it is pretty dangerous. Because the spindle’s cutting tip is more delicate, you should not overextend its use beyond the tool rest’s support. If you extend the spindle gouge over the tool rest at a significant distance and a catch occurs, the tip of the spindle gouge can snap off.
The precise and delicate spindle gouge’s nature does not make the spindle gouge ideal for removing away material. Lastly, if you are making large removing cuts, you should not use the spindle gouge because you can get injured.
Advantages of Using Bowl Gouge
The efficiency of the bowl gouge is paramount. Moreover, you can enhance it to gouge out more material with ease. Besides, it can create complicated curves and render a great finish to the wood bowl’s surface.
Since the bowl gouge is metallically massive at its cutting tip, you can extenuate the bowl gouge reasonably beyond the end of the tool rest. Such capability is crucial as you gouge deeper into the bowl.
You can utilize the bowl gouge’s side wings for shear-scraping as if you are using a multi-function tool. Lastly, the bowl gouge can perform various cutting techniques that can come in handy when bowl turning.
Disadvantages of Using Bowl Gouge
One downside of the use of bowl gouge is the bulkiness of its cutting tip. Hence, you will find it hard to use it in tight crevices. You can use the spindle gouge instead for such a task. The bowl gouge necessitates frequent sharpening because it is often used, and hence, its tip quickly dulls.
Woodturning or bowl turning nowadays are already easy, thanks to the advancements in tools and lathes. Moreover, many woodworkers at present have now discovered the fun and excitement that accompanies the turning of a green wood chunk into a beautiful and artistic product.
As mentioned above, two of the most useful tools you can use for woodturning are the bowl gouge and the spindle gouge. The bowl gouge has three parts, the flute, rod, and handle. If your bowl gouge has a solid rod, it is very strong. Moreover, the rod’s flute improves the chip-cutting action.
The spindle gouge, on the other hand, is also called the “detail gouge” The spindle gouge, as said above, features a shallower flute and is designed for shaping smaller elements. You can also use it for shaping rims, feet, and bases in bowl turning.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.