Spinning Tops


Figure 1: Different Wooden Spinning Tops.

“A spinning top is not just a child’s toy. It is also an adult toy. Besides, some adults DO play with spinning tops, and some make very elegant ones. A spinning top is remarkable because it tends to defy gravity while it is spinning. If spun fast enough, a spinning top will rise to a vertical position and happily stay there, despite the fact that it will fall over if it stops spinning.” (Cross, 2014)


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Figure 2: Different spinning tops with different design ideas.



Figure 3: Acurate Measurements for spinning tops.

In order for the spinning top to spin, a ratio has to be considered, approximately it’s length has to be similar to it’s width, as you can see in figure 3.



“A simple explanation of precession can be given in terms of the diagrams below. Suppose that a top is spinning counter-clockwise viewed from above and suppose it is upright, as drawn on the left side of the diagram. Now suppose that gravity causes the top to fall to the right, as viewed from the front. Viewed from the rear, the top falls to the left. The red dot on the front edge represents a small part of the top, and it is moving left to right at high speed. The blue dot on the rear edge of the top is also moving left to right at high speed, when viewed from the rear. Any object that is moving at high speed left to right will continue moving left to right due its momentum, although it can also move up or down if an up or down force is exerted while it is moving. For example, a bullet fired horizontally will continue to move at high speed in a horizontal direction while it falls slowly to the ground under the influence of the vertical gravitational force.” (Cross, 2014)

Figure 4: The right position in holding the spinning top.

“Gravity causes the whole top to tip to the right when viewed from the front, but the red dot will tend to move in a straight line since it is moving at high speed. Imagine that the red dot is a small bullet attached to the disk.   The result is that the front edge of the disk lifts upward as the disk falls. The two dashed lines represent the components of the velocity vector – one parallel to the edge of the disk and one perpendicular, showing the front edge lifting up.

Similarly, the momentum of the blue dot tends to carry it forward in a straight line. As a result, the rear edge of the top tilts down. The whole top therefore tilts up at the front edge and down at the rear edge, which means that the top tilts into the page when viewed from the front. That is why the top processes by moving sideways (into the page) when it is spinning rather than falling straight down due to gravity.  At least, that is how precession gets started when a spinning top starts falling. With steady precession, there is no falling motion at all.” (Cross, 2014)


Figure 5: Stimulating the Spinning Top’s Movement.


Wood Turning:


Case studies:


  1.  Wooden Spinning Top – Spaghetti


Figure 6: The spaghetti wooden spinning top.

Limited Production

Item #:  MAD02450

Maker:  Mader Tops

Size:  3″ x 1.5″ Diameter

Shipping:  Ships Immediately

Recommended Age:  5 – Adul

Price: $15.00

“A modern spin on an ancient toy that provide endless hours of fascination.  Handcrafted in limited quantities in Austria, these wooden spinning tops are a best seller.  The tops are made from a variety of woods native to Europe and produced in unique color combinations.  So beautifully balanced, they spin for minutes at a time.  And, when finished spinning, each top is worthy of display in a glass case.

A clever conversation piece, display a collection of these beautiful little works-of-art atop a mirror on your coffee or dining room table for your next dinner party, or display a few on top of your desk and use them as stress relievers throughout the day.  Perfect for someone who has everything.  They are ideal for birthday parties (kids and adults alike), gift bags and corporate gifts.  Each top comes with its very own beige, micro-fiber suede pouch.

About the Spaghetti Top…
This “Spaghetti” spinning top is smooth running finger top wrought from premium grown Maple wood.  Considered the little brother to the “Ara” top, the “Spaghetti” is a bit smaller, a bit brighter and a bit easier for little fingers to twist.  Its record running time is one (1) minute, 45 seconds (can you break this record?).

The top is made from a single piece of wood, painted in the traditional pastel design and varnished, and complies with European safety standards.  You will also find the company’s trademark burn line along the equator of the top.

Wood(s) used to make these tops:
Maple ”


2.  The 3D Printed Metal 10-Gram Ghost Spinning Top

(Amazingly Spins for One and a Half Minutes)

Figure 7: The Ghost spinning top.

“Sure, there are thousands of spinning tops out there, and surely pretty much everyone has spun one of these mesmerizing objects at one point in their lives. I remember as a child, playing a game with my brother where we would both spin identical tops and see whose could spin longer. Usually they would end up toppling over within several seconds of one another, and the winner usually was the one who could get their top to spin faster without allowing it to lose control. We spent hours on end playing this silly, entertaining game.

Michiel Cornelissen, a Dutch designer, with “a passion for innovation and functionality”, evidently has the same fascination with spinning tops that my brother and I had as children. He runs a Shape ways shop, selling everything from iPad stands to sunglasses to rings and even lampshades, but one of his recently added items is for something called the “Ghost Top“.” (Hipolite, 2014)

“Ghost is a lightweight, 3d-printed stainless steel spinning top unlike any you’re likely to have seen,” the site explains. “Ghost looks pretty good when it’s resting; but take it for a spin and it creates a fascinating, semi-transparent outline of a top. And that’s not all. Ghost’s wiry structure also makes for a very efficient spinning top geometry.” (Hipolite, 2014)




Figures List:





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