How to Make Top That Spins for 5 Minutes

About: Showing the world what can be made with God's creation.

Today I'll show you how to make a metal top out of parts from your local hardware store.
This idea was originally from Nathan Schmoekel on a facebook group called pocket top talk. His design has been replicated by me and several others, and I can confirm that his top can spin for times exeeding 5 minuets.
Let's get started!

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Step 1: Parts?

first you will need some parts, so I made you a list:
1) a 10x32 button head Allen bolt, about an inch long will do.(be sure to check that they are quality bolts and have no lip around the key hole so that you can drill the hole on center, the one I made in the 'ible was way to wobbly due to the hole being off center)
2) 3 3/16inch to 1inch washers.
3) a 10x32 nut.
4)a 5/32 ball bearing
(NOTE: of you can find all these in stainless steel you won't have to worry much about rust)
5)some green painters tape.
6) a cheap 5/32 drill bit.
( if you have a digital caliper you can check that the drill bit is just slightly smaller than the bearing, because you want the ball to be held in by a press fit. Nathan also suggests a #28 drill bit.)
7) a drill.
8)a vise.
9)a1/8inch hex key.

Step 2: Assembly: Stage 1

Now that you have the parts we need assembly can begin.
First thing we notice is that the washers won't center on the bolt well enough to get a good smooth spin. You don't want tight fitting washers because they too will be slightly off center. So what you can do is use tape to get it near perfect.
Start by measuring out the thickness of the three washers stacked together. Now use that measurement and mark the tape and cut a long strip of that width. (try to aim for a little taller to be sure the washers can fit tight.)

Warning! This may take several tries and will test your patience.
Now that you have a strip of tape, start wrapping tape snugly abound the bolt keeping the edge of the tape flush with the head of the bolt. after you have wrapped the strip of tape enough to be thicker than the hole of the washer cut off access tape. Now, here is the tricky part, you have to test fit the washers and see if they will got on without to much force. They most likely won't on the first try, so you have to remove small amounts of tape in till the washer fits just right, don't try to force it if it won't go, take your time and go slow. It may take some force to get it on snug, but the tape should not be wrinkled or crushed, otherwise your top will wobble and drive you crazy.

Step 3: Assembly: Stage 2

Now you can tighten the nut into the bolt. What I did was put the hex key in my vice and tightened it with my wrench. be sure to add a drop of super glue to the threads where the nut will be so it doesn't come undone.

Step 4: Assembly: Stage 3

Now get your drill bit and drill the hole just so the ball bearing can fit just past half way in.(Or drill in till the hex shape is just barely there in the bottom.)
After that pop the bearing in and your all set.
Note: Because the top I made here had issues with a ball being off center, I took a picture of the good one I made before for the last picture.

Step 5: Final Thoughts

Nathan, the origanial creator of this design posted a simple picture step by step instructional on Facebook and gave me permission to make it into an instructable. I give him full credit for the design. He makes and sells these tops to high standards by polishing them to a mirror finish before construction. You can find him on a group called pocket top talk.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this and try making one yourself.
Be sure to check out my other instrucbables and follow for future projects.

Step 6: Inspirational Tops From Others

UPDATE: 5/29/16

The hobby of making spinning tops made out of hardware parts is rapidly growing. Here are some photos of tops made by fellow spinners.

Here are some details about Jeff Brown's hardware top from Jeff himself:
"Ball bearing, SS Allen bolt (1/4-20 I believe), bronze washer, copper washer, 6 zinc washers, copper washer, bronze washer, zinc castle nut, zinc threaded wood insert. I got undersized washers and reamed them out to JUST big enough. Then drilled out the Allen head for the bearing. Drilled too large and had to epoxy the bearing."

Some details about Nathan's top: Assembled from hardware with two copper washers in the middle, finished on a lathe, and a machined stem grip to finish it off. He sells his for around $30. spin time around 6 minutes+

Thanks for viewing!



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8 Discussions


3 years ago

These are blast to make and equally fun to spin. Great weekend project for kids and adults alike. I can't recommend these projects enough! Thanks again for the great writeup!

2 replies

Reply 2 years ago

not fun to make dont know what you are talking about. ours didnt even spin for 10 seconds. just wasted 10 hours of my life and now i am going to fail physics.


Reply 2 years ago

The fact that it took you 10 hours to finish this may be why you are failing physics, but I digress. This is a great simple project and a ton of fun to make. Maybe try building one again and modifying the design.


2 years ago

thanks a lot for wasting my time. the top only spun for 30 seconds and now we are going to get a 50 for our project grade. thanks a lot. really. not fun and enjoyable at all.

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

I'm sorry to hear that.
But I assure you this is legit.

This project takes a few tries, and patience. Experiment with different brands of parts, and check the hex slot is centered on the screw head.

I found that if I spin a top, and touch a marker to the disc as it spins, then I can find which way the disc is leaning, and can ajust it a little to balance it out.

I hope this helps.


3 years ago

Easy and fast, great idea for a top. FYI I watch a video a while back - Engineers vs Master craftsmen challenge each other to build a top. Here is a link:

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

I've not seen the video but i read about it, on pocket top talk it is common to see tops that spin for longer than those did.


3 years ago

Great looking top... Simple but awesome! Thanks for sharing