Saturday, 9 June 2012

Homemade spinning tops ... ...

After what seems like ages I have managed to use my lathe, after I pulled it apart and cleaned it, it was a little dusty.

No I didn't make a box or a pot, this time I thought I'd make something I've wanted to make for a while, spinning tops.

I've made 5 in all, the tops themselves have all been turned on my lathe, and made from odd little bits of wood left over from various other turning excursions.

These were the first two I made -

They are quite rough, but they work.

As I said I made them from scrap wood, if you look at the Birch one (on the right) you can see a large crack in it, the Pear wood one is okay though (the one on the left) I figured that because they are wood the ends would eventually wear down and perhaps stop the tops from spinning so well, so I used upholstery tacks on the points, I made sure they won't come out by gluing them with some impact adhesive, I fixed the tacks whilst the tops were still on the lathe to make sure I got them in the center.

The tacks - 

The tacks make them spin quite well.

Then, as is usually the case I started to wonder about designs and ways to actually get the tops spinning, and spinning fast, I've seen various methods for doing this, so I thought I'd try some out adding my own 'spin' (see what I did there) to them.

This next one is based on a similar spinning top that is some where at the bottom of the large toy box in the front room.

It uses a launcher and a bit of string to make it go, and it can get up some speed, as you can see from the short video of it in action.

The top and launcher - 

It's made from pine, and uses a tack in the base.

And here's a short video of it in action (no sound) - 

As you can see it spins quite fast and for quite a while, it would spin for longer if it was heavier, pine isn't very heavy and perhaps not the best wood for spinning tops, I have started planning a much larger version of this, maybe as big as 20cm across.

These next two tops are much more polished than the others, and although I made both of them so that you could use string to make them spin, only one of them works as well as I wanted.

More tops - 

They are both made from cypress.

They can both be spun quite easily using your fingers but I figured you could get them going much better with the help of a length of string, which is why both these tops have a large groove running all the way round them.

With the string wound round - 

The groove on the darker one needed to be deeper.

The idea is that you hold the top with your finger and then pull the string to make it go, another thing I changed was the end, the darker one as you can see has a flat end, this made it difficult to hold it and get it spinning, so the next one (the lighter one) I made with a slightly pointed end, you can see in the picture below what I was trying to do.

Ready to spin -

See the frayed string, I have a cure for that.

 I'm always getting annoyed at the ends of bits of string, some string is worse than others, but a little super glue on the frayed end will solve any threading issues you might have been having with it, just give the offending end a twist and then add one or two drops of super glue, just drop it on, and make sure the string isn't touching anything else, once it's dried you should be able to thread it easily, and if you should get super glue on your fingers a little warm soapy water should sort it out.

Like so - 

Super glue is great stuff, but be careful with it, it will stick fingers together.

Here's another video of this top in action (no sound) -

I didn't get it going very well in this video, but you get the idea, it will spin almost as well as the one that uses the launcher, all in all I'm quite pleased with the ones I've made so far, and my kids love them, in fact they seem to spend more time playing with the stuff I make than the gadgets we have.

Thanks for reading.