Friday, February 09, 2007

Dylan Seneca, Clear Spring High School Junior, wanted to make a "battle board" for tops. The idea is that a concave shaped board would lead tops to the center where they could battle each other for the longest spin. The battle board is made of 1/4" thick masonite, depressed at the center and glued to 3/4" thick particle board. Pretty trim around the edges will come later.

The 9th and 10th grade boys have taken a great interest in turning tops for competition. Shown in the photo above are two tops. The one at right named Mahammad Ali is designed for heavy-weight contention. At left is a top designed and made by Dylan which he calls "the wall," due to its flat side designed to keep other tops from tipping it over.

Making tops is really a study of physics. The students have been working to refine various elements of top design: the diameter of the handle, the mass and where it is placed in the design, choice of wood, shape at the bottom, various kinds of tip designs. Some are turned from octagonal stock so that their flat edges will engage other tops (with hopes of defeat). Then there is work to do on the beauty of it and the quality of finish. It adds interest that the tops can also be spun upside down, bringing new opportunities for refinement, competition and fun.

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