Spinning tops

tops-may-31.jpgPrecision spinning tops–also called pocket tops, or finger tops–are small and are meant to be held between thumb and fingers and spun with one flick.

My interest in tops goes back a long time, but not to my childhood, as I don’t remember having tops back then. I might have got my first top about 20 years ago. It was a little metal top from Germany. It’s only been recently that I found machined metal tops with bearing spin points. It seems this type of top first started being made late 2013 and early 2014. Thanks in part to Facebook, communities of both makers and buyer/collectors have sprung up and really blossomed. There are over a hundred makers of precision spinning tops, and a couple thousand people who buy and collect them. Makers and collectors live all around the world.

Once I got interested in these new tops, I started making spin stations out of wood. Tops spin best on a slightly concave glass surface, and it’s convenient to hold the glass lens in a wooden “bowl”. It protects the glass, and looks good. I bought a lathe and started making spin stations, or what I call bowls (because they made the same way as wooden bowls, just with a shallower recess to hold the glass lens.) Here’s one of my favorite bowls:


Padauk spin base with 6″ double sided concave lens

I then started making tops myself, out of wood. Wood tops are very traditional, and many people will remember a wood top from their youth perhaps. Wood tops are often quite simple, made of one piece in a simple “ball and stick” shape. Like these:


Tops made by Dave Earle

Now I not only make my own wood and resin and sometimes metal tops, I continue to collect metal tops as well as wooden tops from other makers, acrylic resin tops, and glass tops. My collection has over 900 tops in it, with almost 800 metal tops.

You can find me on Facebook at my Spin In Style group.