Normally I make spinning tops on my lathe. However one day while camping I thought to carve them by hand. The first few didn't work all that well but over time they got better with practice. The important part is they are fun to make and play with.
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Step 1: Materials
You will need
* a good knife
* a stick
The stick can be green or dead wood. It doesn't even have to be a stick, it can just be a piece of wood. Green is normally easier to carve but may warp later.
Step 2: Round It.
Try and get the diameter of the end of the stick and round as possible. A lot of the time a stick will be naturally that way.
Step 3: The Tip
Carve the end to an even point. Its important that the point is even, otherwise your top will wobble when it spins.
Step 4: Shape the Body.
Now cut the diameter above the even point where you want the start of the handle to be.
Step 5: The Handle.
Continue to carve down keeping the handle in the center until you have the handle as small as you want it. Now cut the handle at the length you want it. Remember you can always make the handle shorter if you need to later.
Step 6: Test and Enjoy.
That's it, now to test it. If its nice and even it will spin smoothly. If it wobbles that means that it is most likely not even, but you can shave it down until it is even. Just keep working at it till it works. Don't worry about if it doesn't work perfectly and you will get better with practice. Remember the important thing is just to have fun.