Tips & FAQ

How to Spin your Top

  • Make sure the surface you’re spinning on is level
  • Place spinning top on surface before spinning. Hold spinning top with index finger and thumb
  • For beginner grip, hold lower down on the stem of the top 
  • For advanced grip, hold higher up on the stem of the top
  • Rotate index finger and thumb in a snap motion (snap your fingers)
  • Length of the spin depends on skill level, weight of top, and spinning surface
  • A perfectly upright and seemingly motionless spin takes practice
  • With practice, you should be able to spin your top for minutes

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a top spin for?

This depends greatly on the surface being used. On a soft, wood table top a spin of a minute or two is pretty good, but it doesn’t compare at all to a good spinning surface. 

On a hard glass or ceramic surface the following times are good guidelines when using any of our tops:  

  • Any beginner should be able to get more than 3 minutes with just a bit of practice. 
  • Intermediate spinners can get over 5 minutes, and with practice regular spins of over 7 minutes are achievable. 
  • On an ideal surface with a powerful and balanced spin, both the brass and fusion tops have spun for more than 10 minutes.

Check out our YouTube Channel for some top times!

 

How can I get a longer spin?

There are three components to achieving the longest spin, and the first two are all about technique:

  1. Impart as much energy as possible to the spin of the top.  Practice spinning the top in different ways until you find the one that results in the fastest initial spin.
  2. Spin the top so that it starts spinning as straight up and down as possible.  Anything less than perfectly straight up and down will cause a more rapid loss of energy as the top will travel in a circular path until it rights itself.  This slows the top down faster than when it is spinning in place.
  3. Reduce the friction between the top and the surface as much as possible.  This means keeping the silicon nitride bearing clean with a soft cloth and cleaning any lint or oils off the spinning surface.  The ideal surface is a clean, dry, hard surface such as a mirror, lens, or glass. A concave surface is needed to center the top in the low point, but the curvature should be the minimum needed to have the top center itself.  Once you have gotten good at spinning the top so that it isn’t traveling in large circles you can use a less concave surface for even longer spin times.

Our longest spins have been achieved on a custom 10-inch concave mirror, and they were high speed spins that started with almost no imbalance whatsoever.  For every spin over 10 minutes, we had a dozen or more that were in the 9-minute range. When everything is just perfect 10+ minutes is doable.

What is the best surface for the top to spin on?

The ideal surface is a hard, dry, clean surface such as a concave mirror, lens, or a ceramic spinning base.  The goal is to minimize friction between the top and the surface, and that means a hard surface since it will have the smallest contact point possible.  Also, a moderately concave surface is good for general purpose use and learning, but the least concave surface possible will result in the longest spins.

What should I do if the top travels across the surface when spinning?

The only way the top will NOT travel when spinning is if the surface is either 1) soft, such as wood, 2) concave, or 3) both perfectly flat AND perfectly level. Let’s break them down a bit:  

  1.  A soft surface will naturally have low spots on it caused by other things that have been set on it.  When spinning the top on such a surface it will travel across it until it settles into a low spot and then will stay in that spot.  This sounds good, and it is fine for casual spins, but the soft surface also has higher friction. You won’t achieve the longest spin times on a wood tabletop, but unless it is very uneven or not sitting level the top will spin on it and find a place and stay there.
  2. A moderately concave surface is great for spinning the top because the top will drop to the lowest point and stay there.  Even if the concave surface is sitting on something that isn’t level, as long as the edges are higher than some point on the concave surface the top will stay on the surface.  As long as it’s a hard surface this is great.
  3. Perfectly flat and perfectly level is almost impossible to achieve.  Even a tiny bit of tilt to one side will result in the top travelling across the surface.  You can always try to achieve this with a small piece of glass but a difference between one end and the other of even a few thousandths of an inch will result in the top slowly working sideways across the glass.

What are the dimensions for the spinning top? What size is it?

The Schulte tops are approximately 1.1” long, just under 1” diameter across the flywheel portion and just under ⅓” across the knurled stem.

What are the parts of the top?

We refer to the largest diameter of the top as the flywheel.  It is where most of the energy from the spin is stored. The portion extending above the flywheel is referred to as the stem or handle.  The top of the stem is knurled, which is the term for the pattern that is cut into the stem to give a better grip for spinning. Unlike traditional tops, the bottom doesn’t have a point, it instead has a ceramic ball bearing that provides a long wearing spinning surface and better performance than a point would.  Even though it is a ball bearing, it does not spin relative to the top, but is fixed in place permanently and spins against the surface on which the top is spinning.

What material are the tops made from?

The Fused version is a lightweight core of 6061T6 aluminum with a shrink fit brass outer ring for high inertia.  The other models are named for the metals from which they are made, brass, bronze, and stainless steel. On all models the bearing is a 4mm silicon nitride ceramic ball that is pressed into place.

Why a ball and not a point, like my top had when I was a kid?

Because a ball actually works better.  First, if the top just came to a point there would be a very small contact point between it and any surface and the metal would quickly wear down until the point was no longer sharp.  The likelihood of the top remaining in balance is extremely low. If we had just machined the brass down to a sharp point, it would be much like the edge of a knife. And just like knives go dull with use, the top would do the same - quickly.   

So, if it’s going to end up rounded off anyway, why not start with a perfectly centered round shape, and use a hard ceramic that will last hundreds of times longer than the relatively soft brass would?  So, that’s what we did!

Which top would be the perfect top for a gift?

If you’re wanting to buy a top for someone who you know will be chasing the longest spin possible, then the Fused Aluminum and Brass is the best choice.  The combination of heavy brass flywheel and low overall weight from the aluminum results in the best spin times of any of our tops. While we think all the tops are beautiful, the solid brass top draws attention with its finely polished and brilliant gold surface.  If you’re buying on looks alone, you won’t go wrong with any of our tops, but the brass takes top spot for most people.

Do you ship outside the United States?

Currently, our tops are available here on our website, on Amazon.com, and on Amazon UK.  Amazon.com does ship outside the United States. We can also ship directly to areas outside the U.S.  Email us at info@brucecharlesdesigns.com with your request and location and we will offer a shipping quote.