• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.
  • PLEASE: Read the FORUM RULES BEFORE registering!

Spinning Tops

rwm

Active User
H-M Supporter-Premium Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2013
Messages
1,048
Likes
1,131
#1
One of our members recently piqued my interest in tops so I thought I might make a few. These would be great gifts as well especially if you have younger children in your world.

First check out some of the incredible machining and design aesthetics here:

https://www.billetspin.com/home/

Here's my attempt. Still waiting on bearings. I ordered some SiN balls.









These are both stainless flywheels with interference fit aluminum shafts.

R
 

intjonmiller

Active Member
Active Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
903
Likes
681
#2
This was one of the things I most wanted to try when I first got my lathe, as much to show my kids what the machine was about as any other reason. But all I had on hand that I was willing to use for a top was 3/4" aluminum. I made a couple and they work okay (about like anything you might buy on an average toy aisle), but then there have been too many other projects and I haven't gotten back to it. Now I have LOTS of material options, including an assortment of bearings, and these recent discussions have renewed my interest. I say we make this a running thread and share our projects here.
 

rwm

Active User
H-M Supporter-Premium Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2013
Messages
1,048
Likes
1,131
#3
That was my hope in starting the thread! What did you think of Billetspin?
R
 

ch2co

Grumpy Old Man
H-M Supporter-Premium Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
752
Likes
461
#4
Here's another group offering tops. Quite different. Tops are so much fun!
 

intjonmiller

Active Member
Active Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
903
Likes
681
#6
Foreverspin made a TON of money on Kickstarter when they launched. Like enough to buy all the Tormachs and materials and tooling they could want. Crazy successful, and with an unbelievably simple design. Anyone with access to a lathe and a profile shot of one of their tops could duplicate it to a very close tolerance (as far as to go).

Need to check out Billetspin. Brb...
 

kvt

Active User
Active Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2014
Messages
1,652
Likes
724
#7
Nice, I also made several but only out of Aluminum, with a steel ball for a point. Nothing fancy just something for kids of all ages to play with.
 

intjonmiller

Active Member
Active Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
903
Likes
681
#8
I knew Billetspin sounded familiar. I've seen some of those, and others like them, from videos that collectors/spinners put on YouTube. Gorgeous work. I have always loved the combination of bright, polished steel and copper, and combined in something this well made is particularly attractive.
 

wildo

Active Member
Active Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2015
Messages
381
Likes
346
#9
Foreverspin tops are garbage. Their whole gist is to highlight what the different metals look like- a "library" of metals, if you will. In that respect they are fine. As a top- they are crap. Couldn't even be bothered to put a bearing tip on them... For "high end" tops, they are pretty low end. (And I say that owning one.)


BilletSpin is very cool. I had one of Rich's early tops, but ended up selling it off in order to pay for the flooring in my shop. (Consider that!!) Some of those tops are worth a lot of money. Focus Works is one of my personal favorites as well. If you're even remotely interested, then check out the Pocket Top Talk facebook group. Just about every legitimate top maker is a member of that group.

Steve Robbins of Fiddle Factory is another incredible maker.
John Schipp of Harpuahound Studio is another great. He's more of a metal carver, but also does some turning.

I'm curious how you intend to finish the bearing in those tops. Will you mount the stem in a collet?
 

wildo

Active Member
Active Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2015
Messages
381
Likes
346
#10
Here is a top I made from hardware store parts before my lathe was operational


This is a "spinning coin" from Harpuahound Studio:








Here's a really early BilletSpin. Not too many "turbine" ones out there. I no longer own this guy.






Brian Fellhoelter of Fellhoelter Toolwerks is another great top maker. His are excellent spinners, and a great beginner top at that.






And finally, here's my personal favorite of my collection- this is called the "Supercollider" from Focus Works.








...You can see- the sky is the limit! Or maybe your imagination.
 

wildo

Active Member
Active Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2015
Messages
381
Likes
346
#12
Oh man. Total thread jack. Sorry rwm, I misread your first post!! I thought YOU were the one who recommended some other top groups, but I see that was someone else. Didn't mean to photo bomb your thread! I'll delete those posts if you want. I do think your tops are really cool! I'm super interested in how you intend to finish them.
 

cwr89

Iron
Registered Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2017
Messages
8
Likes
7
#14
I think spinning tops are the reason I can even use my lathe worth anything. The so called 'edc pocket tops' kicked off shortly after I got my lathe and really pushed me to learn how to true it up. (which I'm still fairly rubbish at :D)
They're great fun, I've made probably 20 in the last year. Great quick project. I also just recently switched from stainless steel bearings to silicon nitride bearings. lots of things came together at once. finally getting a collet chuck, moving to a grade 5 bearing, and press fitting them instead of gluing them. I've seen in my latest one, gone from a 4 1/2 minute spin to a 7 1/2.
I'd absolutely agree with the first post, they make great gifts, but for more than just the kids! Most of my co-workers have requested them from me, they're great for fiddling with mindlessly!
 

cascao

Active User
Active Member
Joined
May 24, 2012
Messages
266
Likes
441
#15
When making my top, made the diameter where we put the fingers smallest possible. It give more RPM per "finger stroke". Other consideration is to use the heaviest metal since it give you more inertia.


Few days ago tried (with a small elerctic motor rotor from scrap bin) a compressed air powered top. It spin to hell, had good rotating mass but keep only 4 minutes spinning.... it's due air drag?
 

intjonmiller

Active Member
Active Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
903
Likes
681
#17
When making my top, made the diameter where we put the fingers smallest possible. It give more RPM per "finger stroke". Other consideration is to use the heaviest metal since it give you more inertia.


Few days ago tried (with a small elerctic motor rotor from scrap bin) a compressed air powered top. It spin to hell, had good rotating mass but keep only 4 minutes spinning.... it's due air drag?
I liked your video. Is that a shop-made radius tool? I'd love to have one like that. I also liked how you couldn't wait to spin it. :)
 

wildo

Active Member
Active Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2015
Messages
381
Likes
346
#18
cascao- looks like you used cutting fluid when adding the knurl. I didn't think brass needed cutting fluid, but it's clear in the video that your knurling tool didn't fill with chips. Can you let me know what cutting fluid you used there? Seemed to work quite well!
 

intjonmiller

Active Member
Active Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
903
Likes
681
#19
I haven't done any knurling (just got my first knurling tool with my Shars QCTP set this last week), so I can only repeat what I've been taught, but according to That Lazy Machinist on YouTube (one of my three or four favorite sources for very technical training) you don't want cutting oil for knurling, you want a straight lubricating oil. For brass and aluminum I believe you can use very lightweight lubrication including denatured alcohol.
 

cascao

Active User
Active Member
Joined
May 24, 2012
Messages
266
Likes
441
#20
I liked your video. Is that a shop-made radius tool? I'd love to have one like that. I also liked how you couldn't wait to spin it. :)
Yes, this radius tool is from http://www.toolsandmods.com/library/ralph-patterson (nice site by the way). Just make sure you have it right for your lathe rotation axis height.

cascao- looks like you used cutting fluid when adding the knurl. I didn't think brass needed cutting fluid, but it's clear in the video that your knurling tool didn't fill with chips. Can you let me know what cutting fluid you used there? Seemed to work quite well!
When I knurl, always use cutting fluid to avoid debris build up. In this case was Tapmatic 1 since my top is in yellow brass. Will try plan engine oil someday...
 

rwm

Active User
H-M Supporter-Premium Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2013
Messages
1,048
Likes
1,131
#23
I'm thinking I will mount it on and SS shaft with an interference fit against a flange. I am not sure how to do the finger holder part (whatever that is called. Grip?) I have a knurling disorder so that is out for now. I may leave it polished. The only problem with the brass is it will tarnish and not look as good against the SS. (yes, I know some optimistic people call it "patina.")
Robert
 
Last edited:

wildo

Active Member
Active Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2015
Messages
381
Likes
346
#24
I am not sure how to do the finger holder part (whatever that is called. Grip?)
Robert
The word you were looking for is "stem." That's what all the top makers call it. If you're really good, you might be able to replicate something like the BilletSpin turbine stem I pictured above. No knurling there... Or o-rings like the Focus Works one.
 

tq60

Active Member
Active Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2014
Messages
509
Likes
254
#25
Past wax for floors works well.

Makes it more aerodynamic too.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337Z using Tapatalk
 

DHarris

H-M Supporter - Premium Member
H-M Supporter-Premium Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2016
Messages
99
Likes
87
#26
You could shoot a couple of coats of Automotive Clear paint on it then polish it down to a hard / smooth / shinny finish. You can get spray cans of the clear at automotive parts outlets.
 

RandyM

Lead Man (Mod)
Staff member
H-M Supporter-Premium Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2011
Messages
1,799
Likes
1,340
#27
I thinking I will mount it on and SS shaft with an interference fit against a flange. I am not sure how to do the finger holder part (whatever that is called. Grip?) I have a knurling disorder so that is out for now. I may leave it polished. The only problem with the brass is it will tarnish and not look as good against the SS. (yes, I know some optimistic people call it "patina.")
Robert
I'd clear powder coat it. You got a great start, I like it.
 

intjonmiller

Active Member
Active Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
903
Likes
681
#28
Chris of Clickspring fame just dipped his brass parts in a thin lacquer after polishing. Seems like that should be sufficient, though his pieces aren't meant to be handled as much as a top.

I have only used about a dozen colors of powdercoat, but almost half of those were different types of clear. We never found one that preserved the look of the metal underneath. They all looked like plastic (because, of course, that's what powdercoating is). Of course it also depends on how controlled your application is. If you're very good at it, and your machine is set up just right, you could probably do a thin enough cost to minimize that effect, but even with a top of the line Wagner Sprint AirFluid gun and a trainer from Sherwin Williams own powder division I never saw it. Wouldn't bother me at all to learn that it can be done, though.
 

RandyM

Lead Man (Mod)
Staff member
H-M Supporter-Premium Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2011
Messages
1,799
Likes
1,340
#29
Jon, Clear is clear, not sure what you are referring to with different types of color. The brass gas pump nozzle in this pic is polished and clear powder coated.

Nozzle & Handle.JPG
 

rwm

Active User
H-M Supporter-Premium Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2013
Messages
1,048
Likes
1,131
#30
I was actually thinking about trying to gold plate it. Not sure how hard that would be? I have some scrap gold I could use as an electrode.
Robert
 
Container Above bottom breadcrumb