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post #1 of 15 Old 03-09-2009, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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First Tops

Made some tops today for my 1.5 year old. They're pretty small, but the smaller one works really well. I was making a larger 3" one out of some laminated oak, but it broke on the lathe. I think my tools were dull already. After sharpening, I tried again on some pine scrap.



Today I learned the frustration of losing a bunch of time to a break, but also learned that tools must be sharpened more frequently than I expected.
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post #2 of 15 Old 03-09-2009, 06:39 PM
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Looks very nice...Im sure the small fry loves them...and yes...A sharp tool...is a must...I have also found this out.
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post #3 of 15 Old 03-09-2009, 09:00 PM
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Very cool! I'll bet the 1 1/2 year old loved them! And to think you could build a toy out of wood to hold his attention rather than a video game or cartoon on tv. Good for you! They look very nice.

John
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post #4 of 15 Old 03-09-2009, 11:24 PM
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Good job. I too have learned the pleasure of working with a sharp tool is well worth the time to sharpen it.

Tim
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post #5 of 15 Old 03-10-2009, 12:14 AM Thread Starter
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My 1.5 year old loves them! Since I got the lathe last week, I've come out of the shop with a new toy for him every other day. When he gets up from his nap, he looks all over to see if there's a new wooden toy hiding on his toy shelf. :P

I'll have to hone my skills at honing my tools. I ran them across my bench grinder a few times today and they don't come off as round as I'd hoped. I guess I'll have to practice that, too!
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post #6 of 15 Old 03-10-2009, 10:33 AM
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Dano,
good job on the tops. I think the adults have as much fun with them as the kids do. At our turning club, someone did a demo the year before last on making tops. So the next meeting we had a top spinoff to see who's would spin the longest. We did it again last year and it will probably continue to be an annual event. We have two categories, under 3" diameter, and over 3" diameter. In the over class, you can also make the stem long enough to make it a two handed spin. For the smaller ones, try using the densest wood you can get or have lying around. The winner the first year made his out of ebony. Keep the center of gravity low, so don't make the point very long (<1/2"). After that, it's all in the finger snap. I have seen them spin for more than a couple of minutes.
Mike Hawkins
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post #7 of 15 Old 03-10-2009, 01:40 PM Thread Starter
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I made another one today. This one is the laminated oak that I failed with the last time. With sharpened tools and a slower hand, I found this top in a chunk of wood. I also got [part of] my order from Craft Supplies USA () that had a bottle of Shellawax friction polish in it. I used that on this top. The polish went on easy and shined up fast. And it doesn't have to sit for hours and hours to dry! It's ready to go right off the lathe!





Lessons learned today... leave more tenon for parting (the bottom of this top still has a small dimple from the tailstock center). Also, have a plan for polishing the ends that were parted. I think I'll need to set up a polishing wheel for my drill press or something like that. I just touched the ends up by hand and they aren't nearly as shiny. Lastly, thorough sanding goes a long way. I probably spent less than a third of my time on this top shaping it on the lathe. The rest of the time was sanding and a minute for the polish.

Mike, thanks! I sure wish we had a club here, the spinning competition sounds fun! As I was working on this last top, I figured there are probably some mathematics and physics involved in shaping an efficient top. Someday, I might learn them, too!
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post #8 of 15 Old 03-12-2009, 08:08 PM
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I handed out tops to all the grandkids, eleven of them, for Christmas last year. They had a blast with them if you could keep the adults from hogging them. Dean
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post #9 of 15 Old 03-13-2009, 10:26 AM
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Tops are very coll, make great gifts. Like Dean said, grown ups like 'em as good as the kids.

Jason Porter
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post #10 of 15 Old 04-06-2010, 11:50 PM
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Have any of you made a top that you put in what looks like a wooden slingshot but with a hole in one of the arms. You stick the shaft through the hole wind on two, three feet of string give it a quick pull and they spinnnnnnn for a very long time.
Jerry
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post #11 of 15 Old 04-07-2010, 12:03 AM
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I wish I had thought of that

I think I will have to turn up some tops. I have some Hophornbeam lying around that would probably be perfect for it. Definitely the densest wood in my neck of the woods.
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post #12 of 15 Old 04-07-2010, 08:48 AM
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I had started some rattles but got sidetracked on house projects. Now I'm going to have to do some tops in the very near future for all the new babies coming around us. Great idea.
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post #13 of 15 Old 04-07-2010, 03:33 PM
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Very cool. Quick, easy, fun and um, for the kids, ya, the kids.
It does give me an idea of what to do with the smaller left over pieces from other turnings.

There is a very fine line between a "hobby" and a "mental illness"
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post #14 of 15 Old 04-07-2010, 10:28 PM Thread Starter
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Oh yea, these finger powered tops are easy and fun to make, and great for using up scraps. I also made some throw tops this past Christmas for a customer. I've seen the kind that have the handle and the pull string - I think they're called 'pull tops', but I haven't made any of them yet.
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post #15 of 15 Old 04-08-2010, 08:54 PM
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I made 23 tops for my 9 yr olds class at Christmas. They were so excited and had so much fun with them. The teacher even asked if she could have one because she used to play with a top at her grandmothers.

They had so much fun spinning them. It was a blast to watch them.

John
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