Perhaps woodturners should sell naming rights. The field has never standardized the names of woodturning tools (or measurements of their widths or how to describe their angles), so they often go by different names. One tool stands out in this regard: Whether it’s called a spindle gouge, detail gouge, shallow-fluted gouge, fingernail gouge, lady-fingernail gouge, contour gouge, forming gouge, long-and-strong gouge or just plain “gouge,” no other woodturning tool has as many names. To avoid confusion in my woodturning classes, I call this essential tool the detail/spindle gouge because those are the two most commonly used names. In some cases, a detail gouge may be slightly thicker under the flute than a spindle gouge, but essentially they’re the same tool.
This little gouge is hands-down the best choice for cutting coves (concave shapes), rolling beads (convex shapes) and shaping ogee curves (“S” shapes—which combine cove and bead cuts) in long-grain turning (when the stock is mounted so the grain runs parallel to the lathe’s bed).