Spindle Gouge vs Roughing Gauge: What’s the Difference?

Most woodworkers are aware that spindle gouges and roughing gauges are common tools used to shape the many components on a lathe. But do you ever wonder what their difference is? Spindle Gouge vs Roughing Gauge! This article will answer this question for you as well, showing where each type can be useful with tips about pricing too!

Spindle gouge


A spindle gouge, also known as an inside-bowl turning tool, is the most commonly used of all woodturning tools. You may find spindle gouges in various types and shapes, such as tapered or spoon-shaped spindles. Which helps with different types of cuts. These spindles are usually made out of high-carbon steel but can also be found in other types such as a spade or skew shapes.


Woodworkers usually use a spindle gouge is for hollowing work and shaving away the waste to create spindle-shaped components. Hence its name “spindle”. It’s a very versatile tool, so you can also use it to shape spoons, bowls, and other vessels. You can use it at any angle or direction while turning on your lathe. However, you should be careful not to gouge too deeply into the wood when hollowing out because this creates unnecessary tear-out.

Spindle gouges are great for beginners since they’re easy to handle yet very effective. They’re also easy to replace if you accidentally chip the edge or bend it out of shape, which is more likely to happen with spindle gouges rather than roughing gauges, for example.


You can buy spindle gouges individually or in sets of different shapes and sizes. You’ll find the price to vary from about $40 for a single spindle gouge up to around $300 if you’re looking for an entire set that includes all types such as skew, round nose, chisel, parting tool, etc.

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Why do you need a Spindle Gouge?

An essential tool for woodturning is the spindle gouge. With this tool, woodturners can create a variety of shapes from wood. The two types of spindle gouges are straight and bent. They are essential tools for woodturning since they are used to cut and shape the wood.

The Straight Spindle Gouge

With this type of gouge, wood is shaped into a straight shape. There are many uses for gouges. A bowl gouge is the best tool to use for turning bowls, vases, and trays. This type of gouge is also known as a flat gouge.

The Bent Spindle Gouge

With this type of gouge, you can cut wood in curved shapes. You may also know it as a round gouge. You can make bowls, vases, candleholders, and other similar shapes with this gouge. The bent gouge is also known as a V-gouge.

The V-Gouge

V-gouges are used to shape wood into any shape. These types of gouges are ideal for making bowls, vases, candle holders, trays, and other items. It is also used for making the letter “V”.

How to Use a Spindle Gouge

Different kinds of wood can be used with this gouge. You can use this tool to turn almost all types of wood such as maple, birch, pine, oak, cherry, etc. But before using it, you need to prepare the wood by sanding it or removing the rough parts. Once you have designed the wood, you can use this tool to shape the wood in the desired way.

Roughing gauge


You can use a spindle gouge to create spindles and other shapes effectively, but the process requires much practice and patience. This is where roughing gauges come in! You may have heard of these before since they’re often confused with spindle gouges which we just learned about. But while spindle gouges are inside-bowl turning tools, roughing gauges are outside bowl cutting tools.


Depending on your preference and comfort level, you can use a roughing gauge while the lathe is either stopped or spinning. One end of the tool has an edge that creates cuts similar to spindle gouge, but its shorter side makes it less likely to gouge into the wood as spindle gouges do.

However, roughing gauges are not as versatile as spindle gouges, so it’s best to only use them on softwood or green blanks if you want a quick project since hardwoods require more effort and experience with this tool. Since they’re smaller versions of spindle gouges, roughing gauges also tend to be cheaper than spindles.


Since roughing gauges are smaller versions of spindle gouges, you’ll find that they’re cheaper. The price range is about $20 to around $300 for a single unit or an entire set if you purchase them from the same brand and model.

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The difference between spindle gouge and roughing gauge

So, what is the difference between spindle gouge and roughing gauge? We’ve already discussed how spindles are inside-bowl turning tools while roughing gauges are outside bowl cutting tools, but there is more to it than that. As you can see from their names, spindle gouges have a curved end which makes them appropriate for spindle work, while roughing gauges have a straight side which makes them best for removing large amounts of wood from the outside of bowl blanks.

Here are a few more other differences between the spindle and roughing gauge,

  • spindle gouges are versatile inside-bowl turning tools, while roughing gauges are mainly outside bowl cutting tools.
  • spindles have a curved end making them suitable for spindle work, while roughing gauges have a straight side which makes them good at removing wood from the outside of bowls.
  • spindle gouges are great for beginners, while roughing gauges require more experience
  • spindles can be made from high carbon steel or other materials, but roughing gauges only come in one shape and material.
  • spindle gouges are generally cheaper than roughing gauges.
  • spindle gouges have a shorter spindle which makes it easier for beginners to control.

What is the best angle for a spindle gouge

The standard method of holding a spindle gouge is with the fingers on one side, the thumb on the other. A depth gauge can be used to ensure that cuts are at a consistent depth between centres.

What angle is a spindle gouge

Rolling is the most common method of using spindle gouges. As a result, the cut becomes smoother and more scalloped with fewer ragged edges. A rolling method involves working into an edge at an angle perpendicular to it, moving parallel towards it with purposeful strokes about 1/4″ at a time. Once you have achieved the desired shape, you tidy up small gaps and imperfections in your edge with short finishing strokes in the same direction as your original strokes.

What is the best size roughing gouge

To avoid catching on the corner of the form, use a roughing gouge with the smallest diameter.

It is used to shape large areas like chair seats, table tops, plaques, and other concave shapes with hardwoods. .

FAQ: Spindle Gouge vs Roughing Gauge

Is a roughing gauge the same thing as a bowl gouge?

No, they’re different tools and serve different purposes. Roughing gauges are outside bowl cutting tools while spindle gouges are inside bowl turning tools. A roughing gauge doesn’t have much curvature to it which makes its side perfect for shaping large cuts of wood.

Is a roughing gauge better than using just an ordinary parting tool?

Yes, if you’re using a roughing gauge correctly then it will save you time even if your final result is not as clean. However, you should only use this tool on softwoods or green blanks which makes them more tedious to use with hardwood projects due to their difficulty level.

What are the benefits of using spindle gouge compared to other tools?

Spindle gouges are versatile inside bowl turning tools which you can use for either roughing or finishing tasks. They also tend to be cheaper than roughing gouges.

What is the difference between high carbon steel and other materials used for spindle tools?

High carbon steel has a higher level of toughness, which means it can take on more abuse before breaking or bending. This makes them suitable for heavy use without fear of ruining your tool over time since they can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

What are the disadvantages of a roughing gauge?

You can’t use it for fine sanding since it’s difficult to control and has no smooth finishes.

Are spindle gouge and roughing gauges interchangeable?

No, these tools have different purposes so there is no way they’re going to work in place of each other.

What are roughing gauges made of?

Roughing gauges only come in one shape and material. They’re mostly steel, but you can get some that are made from high carbon steel or other materials depending on the brand and model.

What is the best use for a roughing gauge?

Roughing gauges are mainly outside bowl cutting tools, but you can also try them out on softwood or green blanks if that’s your goal. You may want to experiment with it until you find what works best for your project needs.

Is there a difference in price between spindle gouge and roughing gauge?

Yes, you’ll find that spindles are cheaper than roughing gauges by about $20 to around $300 depending on the brand and model. You can get them both from most woodturners’ tool kits though!


This article should help you understand the difference between spindle gouges and roughing gauges, as well as how to use both tools in combination. Remember that each tool has its strengths. If your goal is a fine finish on a piece of wood, then choose either side for this task.

But if it’s more important to remove material quickly without worrying too much about surface quality, then go with the other end! It may take some analysis before you find which one does what is best for you and your project needs, but we hope this article helps get you started down the right path.




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