I turned a toy spinning top out of some of the Oak I had sitting around. It’s a pretty simple project. I found a chunk of Oak that had been drying on the shelf for a while and mounted it into the chuck. I quickly turned it into a cylinder and started roughing out the general shape of the lower body.
After finding a shape I liked, I backed the tail stock off and worked on the bottom point. You want to do this before cutting the stem as doing so significantly weakens the support of the piece. I left it relatively blunt to keep from tearing the tip up when spinning it. I need the tail stock to stabilize the piece while completing the rest. To keep from marring the area near the tip, I placed a small square of foam rubber in between the tail stock and body. This allowed me to put some pressure on it without causing damage.
With the piece secure, I started cutting out the rest of the spinning top. Once I was pleased with the overall shape, I sanded it down to 320 and parted it off. To do this, I backed the tailstock off and gently held the spinning top in one hand and the parting tool in the other. Due to the shape of the piece, it could easily break off and go flying without support. The picture below was better centered when I took it but somehow got corrupted. What was left result is what is show below. Doh.
The spinning top is able to be hand spun but doing so doesn’t get it going very fast. Another way to spin the top is by winding a piece of string around it. The spinning top is supported and the string is pulled accelerating it. To support the top I took a scrap piece of pine and bored two holes in the end. One end hold the stem of the spinning top and the other allows me to wind the string. After that I rounded the piece on the lathe. The result is shown below. The top is about 2.5″ in diameter and about 5″ tall.
Here’s a picture of it spinning. Note that I put a small hole through the stem to hold the string. Playing around with is some, I’ve been able to get the top to spin for over two minutes before starting to excessively wobble. That’s no record but seems pretty good for a first try.
If you like to see someone turn a spinning top, be sure to check out YouTube. Here is a video of a talented Amish Man quickly making an ornate spinning top. His lathe is pretty neat as well.