Design and manufacture a spin top that is both elegant to behold and spins for a long time period


  • Brief: "Design and manufacture a spin top that is both elegant to behold           and spins for a long time period"
  • Period Active: April 2017
  • End User: Individuals

Halo was a short 2-week project that was run through the second semester of 4th year. We were given a brief to design a spin top to enter in a class competition where the judging was based on the length of spin, beauty and innovation.

I approached this project with the aim to improve my digital sketching rendering and work with unfamiliar materials.

My final design had a very competitive spin time of 2:04 on a rough concrete floor (the test surface). Although the top wasn't the longest spinning, I won the overall competition based on beauty and innovation.

I began this project by contacting Paul Miller, a professional spin top manufacturer from Arizona, USA. Paul's Instagram was a huge influence when it came down to selecting my final materials. He has a beautiful range of handcrafted spin tops with varying forms and materials. I highly recommend you check it out!

After some further research into Youtube videos of long spinning tops, I made a short list of guidelines to keep in mind for the duration of the project.

With these guidelines in mind, I tried to think about how the spin top could be unique and have a visual presence. This is when I started to test out my Wacom graphics tablet!

I found the idea of working with resin very intriguing. I also really enjoy the idea that the “light” centrepiece of the top should be transparent. The weight distribution in the top is represented by the aesthetic values of the materials.

I looked into casting resin in steel tubes and then turning the tubes on the lathe.

This was a very experimental manufacturing technique and may not produce the results I want in the short time period. I decided to try and replicate the aesthetics of this design but use high-quality materials and conventional manufacturing techniques. I purchased some solid acrylic and aluminium rods to use in my design.

I then drew up a CAD model on Solidworks. I used the CAD model for referencing measurements throughout the manufacturing process.

First, the Aluminium ring was turned on the metal lathe. The inner diameter of the ring fitted the exact diameter of the acrylic rod.

Next, the acrylic was turned on the metal lathe. This was a lot more complex as a lot more material had to be removed from the stem of the spin top.

After the acrylic was removed from the lathe, extra material from the stem had to be removed by hand before returning to the metal lathe. This was achieved by fixing the acrylic in a hole bit and camping a hand drill in the "on" position and using it as a lathe. I sanded away the bulk material using this makeshift lathe.

The piece was then returned to the metal lathe to get a smooth and more accurate finish.

Both the acrylic and aluminium pieces were sanded using wet and dry paper up to 1500P. They were then polished and assembled using 2 part epoxy resin.

I'm extremely happy with how the final spin top turned out. Although I won the class competition with a time of 2:04, I have achieved a spin time of 4:56 on a glass table.