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This is a fun and easy little top

Step 1: What You Need

at least one milk carton (or cardboard)
a pencil and ball-point pen
scissors, pencil sharpener
tape

Step 2: Cut Disks From a Milk Carton (or Cardboard)

Print out the pattern on this page  (You could also use a plastic soda lid to trace) . Only 4 patterns of the six we want fit on a page, so if you don't want to reuse a couple of the patterns, print out the page twice. Although it is possible to make the top work with just one disk, I have the most success when using six disks. The combined mass seems to create tops that are less fickle.

Step 3: Punch Holes in the Disks

I offer this idea for punching the holes in the center of the disk, which I think is the safest way to do it: First, put on a table about 4 layers of a wash cloth, towel or anything sort of soft like that. Lay the disk on top and punch a small hole with a ball-point pen. Then pick up the disk and enlarge the hole to the diameter of a pencil by pushing and twisting the pencil in. With the small hole there, our fingers can feel exactly where the pencil is coming through, and we place our hand so it goes in between our fingers.

Step 4: Assemble the Top and Try It Out

Skewer all six disks onto a long, sharpened pencil. Push the disks close together and tape them together in at least four places. Push the disks as far toward the point as you can without them falling off. Test it on a scrap of white paper. Hold the pencil between your palms, spin and let go. It should not only spin, but also scribble little circles that will record every vibration of the top on the paper. Now experiment. For a simple toy there are some very complex things going on. Try it with the disks pushed up more toward the top (although you are unlikely to get it to work with the disks on the upper two thirds of the pencil). A move of half an inch can make the difference between wobbling around uselessly or working. Try different sized pencils. Sometimes the top will spin. Sometimes it won't. Experiment.

Cool. Who's going to clean the pencil off of the table? :-D

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