Woodturning Spin Tops




Introduction: Woodturning Spin Tops

About: I love woodworking and making fun stuff on the lathe, I really enjoy making stuff and posting it on this website, and I love the Hobbit

Hello again! Every year my woodturning club will turn tops for a children's hospital. Last year we turned over 3500 tops from July to December. This year the goal is 4000 tops. Every weekend they are holding top-a-thons where maybe 5-10 guys (including myself) will get together and just turn as many tops as we can. A single top will only take 5 minutes...when you do it about a hundred times (which I have) it only takes a minute. Whether you are turning tops for charity or just for the kiddos to play with, this tutorial should break everything down step by step for you. Let's get started!

Step 1: The Blank

My woodturning club gives away pieces of Oak stock that are maybe 2 or 3 inches square and 5 or 6 inches long. First, I put them in between centers and rough it down. I also put a small tenon on one end to hold it in the chuck.

Step 2: Turning Your Top

I put the blank in my Nova G3 chuck. Once secured, I turn the end into a point with my 5/8" bowl gouge. I sometimes use a spindle gouge for this. You don't want the top to be to tall otherwise it will never spin right. You also don't want it to be too low because it will not spin right also. I go for a 45ish degree angle.

Step 3: More Turning!

I always use my parting tool to bring down the shaft. I start my first pass closest to the top and continue to bring down more material, working my way away from the point. Doing that in that order will reduce vibrations.

Step 4: Sanding and Finishing

I don't dilly dally with sanding up to 800. Truthfully, when you turn about 30 of these at a time, you don't want to waste a lot of time with sanding, so I just give it a quick rub with 180, 240, and 320. For finish, my woodturning club makes us use a mineral oil and beeswax finish because that's the simplest finish and the hospital we donate these to doesn't need any specs sheets about what chemicals are in the finish. Just mineral oil and beeswax. This finish just needs some friction to really soak into the wood so crank up your speed and polish your top up. After doing so, I part it off with a skew but you can use a parting tool, hack saw, or whatever you're comfortable with. Now, you are done!

Step 5:

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    In all of my years teaching Art in an all special ed school, top-making was consistently a high favorite project. Woodworking brings in an array of multidisciplinary subjects: math (measuring), biology (different types of wood), geology and geography (where do certain trees grow and what soil nutrients do they need?), science), following directions, reading, writing, etc. The kids love designing and painting them; what they do not love so much is waiting overnight while the finish that I apply after school dries! Make sawdust!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    yep thats awesome! after 4000 tops though......i don't care what the wood is or what size the top is.....just turnin' tops :)