- Making the Universal Toy
Published by Linden Publishing Inc, Fresno, CA USA
As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 142
How many kinds of toy tops can you think of? Maybe two, three, even four? Michael Cullen presents instructions for making no less than 16 of them!
In fact, there's probably a question or two for your next Trivia night in this book.
The first part of Cullenís exploration of toy tops is called Getting Started; it briefly covers Tools and Equipment, Sharpening, Materials, Stock Preparation and Making a Mandrel.
At the other end of the book, Part 3 deals, even more briefly, with Finishing.
The rest of the book - more than a hundred of its 128 pages - is devoted to the 16 projects.
The Disk Top, perhaps the simplest design, is made in two parts, a spindle and a disk.
The Cube Top is much more sophisticated. It is described as the only one of these tops which appears asymmetric when at rest. If you haven't seen one, imagine a cube with a spindle rising from it diagonally at one corner. It spins on the opposing corner.
Then thereís the Bead Top that looks a bit like a short pencil with a fat 'bead' part way along its shaft.
The Dreidel Top is more famous. At least it is to those who celebrate Hanukkah. Michael Cullen says that, technically, it falls into the category of teetotums which this reviewer has just learned is the name given to 4-sided tops with marked sides that are used in games of chance.
Then there's the Tornado Top (one of the type launched by hand and string), the Party Top, the Wizard Top, The Ballerina Top (with articulated arms that fly out when it spins), the Pentagonal Top, the Benham's Top (the one on which black lines are drawn that show colours when the top spins)...
Of course, there's a Classic Top and, as you might also expect, a Tippe Top - one of those tops that is spun on its base but flips over to spin on its stem.
Of course, most of the tops involve turning in one way or another, but there are other skills involved too. None of the projects would absorb much in the way of time or resources but it should be enjoyable work that would probably be rewarded further by the delight of the children who eventually receive the toys.
The book is well illustrated with photographs (and, where, necessary, rendered line drawings), while the text is kept to the minimum necessary to impart the required instructions.
Units of Measurement: Imperial
I: Getting Started Tools and Equipment
II: Turned and Non-Turned Tops
III: Finishing Shellac