The spin tool in Blender extrudes and rotates selected geometry around a pivot point. It causes the selected mesh to uniformly “spin” in the way we instruct it to. The Spin Tool serves an important role when 3D modeling in Blender.

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The Spin Tool in Blender 3D is a MUST KNOW for modeling

Here’s a five minute video on the Spin Tool or continue for instructions with images.

The Blender Spin Tool Explained

The spin tool extrudes geometry while simultaneously pivoting it. This can be used to get perfectly curved pipes and anything else you want to have turn or “spin” at a certain angle.

There are a number of settings that can be adjusted and all of them are covered below.

The spin tool can be activated in one of two ways. It can be activated from the Extrude Menu by using a shortcut. Or we can activate the spin tool from the toolbar on the left side of the 3D viewport.

Industrial 3D Models in the Blender viewport.
Industrial greeble assets in Blender 3D viewport.

Using the Spin Tool Hotkey

We activate the spin tool in edit mode by selecting a portion of the mesh, pressing “Alt + E” and then choosing “Spin” from the extrude menu.

Read on for more details on how to use and control the spin tool.

Using an Orthographic View (Recommended)

Orthographic Views in Blender 3D (Micro Tip)

The spin tool is best used in an Orthographic View.

An orthographic view is a straight-on view from either the front, back, top, bottom or sides of an object.

In orthographic view there is no perspective so how far away an object is will not affect how large it appears in the viewport.

Watch the above video to learn orthographic views in 34 seconds!

Placing the 3D Cursor

Because the 3D cursor will act as the pivot point for spinning our geometry, we want to place it in approximately the right place before we start.

In the Blender 3D viewport, a cylinder is viewed from front orthographic view with the top geometry selected. The spin tool will be used to pivot the geometry at the location of the 3D cursor.

Imagine we will be spinning our geometry on a hinge. That hinge pivots wherever our 3D cursor is placed. We can adjust it later, but having it in the right place to begin is recommended. Here’s a post about using and moving the 3D cursor in Blender.

Run the Spin Operation

In orthographic view with the 3D cursor in the proper location, press “Alt + E” on the keyboard to open the extrude menu. Choose “spin” at the bottom of the menu.

The extrude menu is opened in Blender using the shortcut "Alt + E" and the spin tool is selected at the bottom of the menu.
Spin is selected from the extrude menu

Now the selected geometry will spin 360 degrees around the pivot point (3D cursor).

The spin tool in Blender has spun the selected geometry 360 degrees by default in the 3D viewport.
The spin tool defaults to 360°

To control the settings of the spin tool, we open the operator panel which appears in the bottom left corner of the 3D viewport after we use the spin tool.

After using the spin tool in Blender, the operator panel opens in the viewport with controls for steps, angle and pivot point of the spin operation.
The spin tool operator panel shows controls for the spin operation.

Spin Tool Angle Setting

By default, the spin will occur at 360° but we can adjust it with the angle setting in the operator panel. Below is what it looks like at 90 degrees.

The spin tool was used on an object in Blender and the angle setting is at 90 degrees.

Spin Tool Steps Setting

The steps setting controls how many segments will be extruded to complete the spin. A higher number of steps will create a smoother spin but will add more geometry. In the above example, 12 steps were used. Below are examples of different amounts of steps.

Two cylinders in Blender are compared. The left had the spin tool used with four segments. The right had the spin tool used with 36 segments and is smoother.
A spin with 4 steps (left) and with 36 steps (right)

Adjusting the Spin Pivot Point

By default, the location of the 3D cursor is used as a pivot point for the spin tool in Blender. In the operator panel, the “Center” setting contains 3D coordinates of the pivot point. These can be adjusted along each axis.

The center settings for the Blender spin tool have been adjusted to offset the pivot point and change the shape of the extruded geometry.
The center settings have been adjusted to move the original pivot point.

No matter where we move the pivot point center to, the last extrusion is at the angle we put in the “angle” setting – in this case 90 degrees.

Two 3d human models
Human Generator Add-On for Blender

Adjust Spin Axis

The last setting in the operator panel is to adjust the axis of the spin. We can adjust how much the geometry rotates along the X, Y and Z axes.

Each axis can have a value between -1 and 1. Zero will be no rotation on the axis. 1 will be full rotation (as defined by the angle setting) and -1 will be full rotation in the opposite direction.

If an orthographic view is used and we only want to spin along one axis, no adjustments need to be made here. Two of the three axis settings will be zero.

If we want to have the spin rotate along more than one axis, we can adjust the settings. See an example in the next image.

The axis settings are adjusted on the spin tool to cause a cylinder to spin along more than one axis in the 3D viewport.

Spin Tool “Use Duplicates”

In the operator panel for the spin tool, there is a box labeled “Use Duplicates” that is not checked by default. When this box is checked, each step of the spin will create an unconnected plane rather than the connected geometry in the examples above. Below is what it looks like when “Use Duplicates” is checked.

The spin tool is used on a cylinder in Blender and the "Use Duplicates" box is checked in the operator panel. This causes unconnected geometry to be formed with each extrusion.
“Use Duplicates” is checked resulting in unconnected planes being extruded.

Spin Tool Auto Merge

In almost all cases, the auto merge box in the Spin Tool operator panel should remain checked. If the spin tool rotates 360 degrees, this will close the geometry at the end so it does not overlap. If this box is not checked duplicate geometry will be created at the starting / ending location of the spin.

Spin Tool Flip Normals

There is an option to have the normals flipped when using the spin tool. This can also be done separately at any point when modeling in Blender. If you want to reverse the direction of the normals when using the spin tool, check the box “Flip Normals.”

Blender Spin Tool in the Toolbar (With Gizmos)

There is a second way to use the spin tool that you may prefer (but I don’t). It’s using the spin tool found in the toolbar on the left of the 3D viewport. You toggle this toolbar open and closed with the keyboard shortcut “T.”

While in Edit Mode, scroll down on the toolbar until you find the spin tool. Its icon looks like a pie cut into slices.

The Blender spin tool icon is pointed to in the 3D viewport toolbar.

The benefit of using this tool is that we can use it from any view. There is no need to be in an orthographic view using this method. The downside is (in my opinion) it is not as easy to use – but you may disagree.

The spin tool is activated in the 3D viewport and settings appear at the top of the viewport. A gizmo appears to manually spin the selected geometry along an axi.

When the spin tool is selected, some familiar settings appear at the top of the 3D viewport. The steps setting is where we tell Blender how many steps to use when extruding the geometry.

We will also notice a “gizmo” appear. In the above example, the Z axis is highlighted so there is a gizmo to rotate (spin) the geometry along the Z axis. We do so by selecting one of the “plus” symbols at either end of the gizmo and dragging it with our mouse.

Below is what it looks like when we grab a gizmo handle and start dragging.

The gizmo for the spin tool shows additional visual icons when it is dragged and the operator panel opens in the bottom left of the viewport.

As you see, the operator panel opens and more lines appear in the viewport to show how the geometry is spinning. When we lock in the spin operator, clicking again will create another spin operation. I find this way of using the spin tool to be fairly confusing.

I prefer to use the shortcut “Alt + E” as described earlier in this post.

Final Thoughts

That’s about all there is to know with the spin tool in Blender. It extrudes geometry a certain number of times and rotates it around a pivot point. The pivot point defaults to the location of the 3D cursor but everything about the spin tool can be altered in the operator panel.

If you really need more, here is a page from the Blender Manual about the spin tool.

I hope this was helpful. Please feel free to share it! Have a look around the site for more useful Blender tutorials and I also have a YouTube channel you might like. Stay Creative!

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