Spin Tops

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Project by Bob A in NJ posted 02-03-2013 10:36 PM 2039 views 7 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Ok Super Bowl Sunday, had a few hours to kill before the big game. Made a few string style spin tops, 1 out of the colored plywood and 2 from walnut. Takes a bit to figure how to make make them spin but I have that down now. Fast, easy project, look great, fun to play with. Will be making lots of these. Will be great gifts for my nephews.

The one on the left is solid plywood. Does not spin well, too top heavy. It was one first one I made last weekend.

The others have a 1 1/4” wide inch hole drilled in the top and work much better. The hole is about and 1 1/2” deep. Then drilled a hole in the point and inserted a brass metal point. Finished with Mylands turners finish. The brass tips makes a huge difference how well it spins.

Bob Feb 3, 2013.

-- Bob A in NJ

13 comments so far

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1927 posts in 4678 days

#1 posted 02-03-2013 10:50 PM

Looks like loads of fun to me!!!!

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4583 days

#2 posted 02-03-2013 10:59 PM

View Hacksaw007's profile


620 posts in 4195 days

#3 posted 02-03-2013 11:19 PM

Wow, they look great, but hard to make? Hard to get them to spin I would think.


-- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1339 posts in 5005 days

#4 posted 02-04-2013 12:11 AM

Hi mike, actually very simple to make. Take a square block, drill a hole with 1 1/4” wide forstner, chuck that hole in spigot jaws, taper off the point till you get to the width of the brass tip , drill a hole for the shaft on the tip, finish shaping top and bottom, a few easy cuts on the taper to help the string not slip, sand a finish. Whole project is about 10 minutes. Give one a try, or 10 or 12!

-- Bob A in NJ

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1339 posts in 5005 days

#5 posted 02-04-2013 12:25 AM

Hi, for those that want to give these a try, check out the link for Spintastics for the brass tips. The owner, Dale, provides great customer services, pointers and products.

-- Bob A in NJ

View lew's profile


13311 posts in 4761 days

#6 posted 02-04-2013 01:10 AM

Looks like more fun than watching the game.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Jeffery Mullen's profile

Jeffery Mullen

355 posts in 3824 days

#7 posted 02-04-2013 06:37 AM

Nice Job!

-- Jeffery Mullen

View StevenAntonucci's profile


355 posts in 4944 days

#8 posted 02-04-2013 08:31 PM

So, do you throw them right side up, or upside down? Regardless of what Michael Hosaluk says, I throw mine right side up…

-- Steven

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1339 posts in 5005 days

#9 posted 02-04-2013 08:50 PM

Hi, they seems to work best if you hold them between your fingers with the tip pointing up, then throw, the tops then flips and lands on the point.

-- Bob A in NJ

View LesB's profile


2858 posts in 4449 days

#10 posted 02-05-2013 12:04 AM

Nice job of getting the shapes down. I have not seen one with a lip on the crown but I don’t know why it would not work although it is not needed.
I have made a few of these and as kids we played with them quite a bit. They are still fun.
It looks like Bob used some commercially made metal tips. I have used double headed construction nails . The ones framers use to hold braces and such temporarily in place; the second head makes them stick out half an inch so they are easy to pull out when no longer needed. I cut to size and glued into a pre drilled hole at the tip of the top. The first head of the nail is ground to a point before gluing it in. The second head acts as a stop so the nail will not go further into the wood.

Steven is correct you wind the thread (you need a hard twisted cord like string for this) as shown starting with a knot in the end of the string which holds one loop around the knob at the top (he has it loose in the picture but the knot should be close to there the string that lays over it. In the same wrapping motion bring it down and around the pointed end just avobe the metal point (there should be a small rim there to stop the string from going off the tip) and wrapping back up until you have most of the string around the top. I would have a bit more string than the picture shows so it wraps up a little higher on the top. You need a button or something on the tag end to put between your middle and ring finger so you don’t lose the string at the end of the throw (on the inside of your hand).Those two fingers are folded into your hand. Holding the top point up between your index and little finger, against your folded fingers, with your thumb on the out side you are ready to throw it. The top is thrown over hand (towards the ground) or under hand (away from you) and just as it reached the end of the string you give a little tug which flips to top over on it’s point and it spins away. With practice you can get near pin point accuracy and quite a bit of velocity.
We would have accuracy contests trying to land you top on the lid of a small food can (aluminum drink cans are too thin) or other small target. Also we played a game similar to marbles trying to knock other tops out of a circle. In more aggressive contests we would even try to land on top of your opponent’s spinning top and split it apart not just knock it out of the circle. That plywood top Bob made would probably be hard to split however.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1339 posts in 5005 days

#11 posted 02-05-2013 12:35 AM

Hi Les, thanks for the pointers. Like that idea with the framing nail. I have also seen one with a pop rivet.

On the length of string. I hear the best length is about 5 feet. I like your idea about wrapping up higher on the top. Suppose I’ll have to keep experimenting. I still need throwing practice for accuracy.

As for the button idea, it seems to work best for me to have a loop in the string as the small plastic button that comes with the string keeps slipping out of my hand.

Glad this brought back some fond memories for you.


-- Bob A in NJ

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3182 days

#12 posted 02-05-2013 03:38 PM

Love these beautiful spin tops, reminded me of fun times playing them. We used nails also and just a simple adjustable knot to insert fingers in. Great turning!


View boomfiziks's profile


42 posts in 2937 days

#13 posted 03-19-2013 08:25 PM

Last weekend, I tried making one of those tops. It doesn’t spin well. From your experience, have you noticed any features that makes for a good/poor spinning top? I’m wondering if mine may be too top heavy. Mine is about 9.5cm (3 3/4”) tall with it’s cg (center of gravity) is about 5.5cm (2 1/4”) from the bottom. I’m not sure if there is any good ratio of top height to c.g. for a good spinning top. I’ll try to post some pics of my top when I get them loaded.

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