How to make a wooden spinning top toy

Written by matt scheer
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How to make a wooden spinning top toy
(Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Spinning tops are near-perfectly balanced toys that spin on a single point about an axis. The player twists the top with his finger on a string, and the weight of the top perpetuates a rotational motion. Most spinning tops have at least three distinct parts: a thin handle that you hold to spin the top; a wide, disclike middle that offers most of the weight of the toy; and a conical or cylindrical head upon which the top actually spins. Spinning tops are simple to make as long as you have the right tools.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Lathe or mini-lathe
  • 1/4 inch wide dowel
  • 2 inch wide dowel
  • Gouge
  • Hand saw or circular saw
  • Power drill with 1/4 inch drill bit
  • Spray glue
  • Spray varnish
  • 600 grit sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Cut your 1/4 inch thick dowel so that it is a few inches longer than the height you want for your spinning top.

  2. 2

    Cut your 2 inch thick dowel so that you have a section about 1 inch tall.

  3. 3

    Drill a hole all the way through the centre of the 2 inch thick segment with your power drill and the 1/4 inch bit. Insert the 1/4 inch dowel segment through the hole. The friction between the two dowels should keep them together, but spray on a bit of glue to ensure an attachment if the connection feels loose.

  4. 4

    Put the 1/4 inch dowel with its larger segment attached into your lathe and turn the lathe on.

  5. 5

    Use your gouges to strip away the spinning wood of the 2 inch thick segment until you're happy with the shape of the spinning top's middle section. Disc and bell shapes are common.

  6. 6

    Sand the surface of the middle section with your sandpaper while the lathe is still rotating to get an even, smooth finish.

  7. 7

    Hold a marker against the surface of the middle section to add a decoration in a circle shape to your spinning top if you want your toy to have some colour. Spray on the varnish to seal in the colour.

  8. 8

    Turn off your lathe and play with your new spinning top.

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