Tops, Tops, and More Tops

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Project by Underdog posted 09-29-2018 03:55 PM 931 views 2 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I bought Michael Cullen’s book “Tops: Making the Universal Toy” a few months (years?) ago, and have wanted to turn a bunch of them ever since.
Opportunity knocked in the form of a demo request from my wood turning club. The first request was to turn the parts for one of the Model T cars I’ve made. I figured that’d be boring so I suggested tops. Then the counter-request was for Christmas ornaments since it was getting to be that time of year….
And that’s when I suggested a dancing Santa top. And so I designed a top based on the Ballerina top found in the afore-mentioned book.
I also turned several other tops in the book, and the result you see here.

The grouping with the snowman top shows my first Ballerina top and the first Santa top. Ididn’t quite hit the mark with any of them. The Ballerina top departed from the given dimensions and behaves as a too-tall dancer. The first Santa suffers from the same problem, and frankly the snowman top doesn’t spin well at all because the “handle’ doesn’t lend itself to a good spin.

So then I turned the three ballerina tops to specifications, and they were MUCH better. And they look good and spin well. I’m very pleased with the texturing and coloring. They even spin well.

Then I drew out the Santa top and tried to stay within the given sizes even though I modified it a bit. These turned (see what I did there?) out well and spin well. And they are very Christmas-ey, yes?

The Martini Tops are a hoot, and spin well too!

The five Party Tops in the star configuration photo are fun and easy. They were good spindle practice.

The wizard top. The shape looks good, but I’m no fan of the handle because it doesn’t lend itself to a good spin.
I’m of the opinion you should make the handles straight and as thin as practical. Makes for a good olympic spin.

And last and my most favorite top, is the chatter top. You can see examples of similar tops in my projects pics. These tops are like snowflakes – no two are alike. The shape, texturing, and color schemes are different on every single one. And if you get the handles right, with a snap of the fingers, they’ll spin like nobodies bidness….


The demonstration was a success and was enjoyed by all. Including me!

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

10 comments so far

View GR8HUNTER's profile


7672 posts in 1521 days

#1 posted 09-29-2018 04:05 PM

TOP JOB get it LOL … GREAT JOB :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View a1Jim's profile


118104 posts in 4386 days

#2 posted 09-29-2018 04:30 PM

Very cool,super designs. They look like fun projects.


View Woodknack's profile


13442 posts in 3189 days

#3 posted 09-29-2018 04:45 PM

Tops with arms, cool idea.

-- Rick M,

View oldnovice's profile


7599 posts in 4176 days

#4 posted 09-29-2018 05:50 PM

Nice bunch of tops!
The color schemes are beautiful when stationary and must really be dazzling when spinning.

And, top are the universal toy and also the oldest known.
When I lived in Germany, way too many years ago, I had a large metal one that hummed as the spin speed changed.

It’s going to be difficult to TOP this project.

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

View Pjonesy's profile


377 posts in 1635 days

#5 posted 09-30-2018 04:12 AM

They are brilliant, well done.

-- Don't tell me it can't be done.

View therealSteveN's profile


5963 posts in 1383 days

#6 posted 09-30-2018 05:06 AM

Since childhood I have always loved a top. The shape, and weighting certainly do affect the spin, sometimes they are a no brainer they will spin well, sometimes you may think winner till you let it go. All of them look great at rest though. Nice work, they are great.

Thanks for posting.

-- Think safe, be safe

View ralbuck's profile


6556 posts in 3075 days

#7 posted 09-30-2018 04:39 PM


Fantastic paint jobs too.

Superb project.

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View ChrisK's profile


2046 posts in 3890 days

#8 posted 10-01-2018 10:47 AM

Nice looking tops.

-- Chris K

View bushmaster's profile


3940 posts in 3091 days

#9 posted 10-02-2018 05:10 AM

Outstanding and beautiful.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View crowie's profile


3822 posts in 2760 days

#10 posted 10-03-2018 09:35 PM

They are excellent sir…love them!

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

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