Homemade spinning tops—5 easy, fun ways to make your own tops

by | Spinning Tops, Stress Relief

As a precision machinist, I make spinning tops on a lathe. It requires special tools, metal stock, machining skills, and – of course – a lathe. But you don’t need to be an experienced machinist or have your own machine shop to make your own homemade spinning tops.

There are countless ways to make a spinning top. Many of them don’t require any particular skills. And many of them can be made with materials that you already have around your house or can easily obtain.

Here are five do-it-yourself spin top projects that can be completed in less than an hour, but produce many hours of fun!

Bottle cap top

A bottle cap top is a great craft for kids (as long as there is an adult available to poke the hole!). Bottle cap tops are both inexpensive and educational. This type of top won’t spin for all that long, but will provide plenty of enjoyment nonetheless.

What you’ll need:

  • Plastic bottle cap
  • Toothpick or wooden skewer
  • Thick needle or small knife or scissor
  • Quick-drying glue or glue gun


Use the needle, knife, or scissors to make a small hole exactly in the middle of the bottle cap, enlarging it as needed to accommodate the diameter of your toothpick or skewer. Insert the toothpick or skewer into the hole so that no more than about one-third of the length comes out the opposite side of the cap. Then glue it in place.

After the glue dries, the top can be decorated with stickers, markers, paint, or colored tape.

Compact disc top

This method is one of the quickest, simplest ways to make a top. It’s not much of a craft, per se, but is very satisfying to play with and spins for a surprisingly long time. It’s also a great way to get another life out of a dried up pen and an old CD.

What you’ll need:

  • CD
  • Cheap ballpoint pen
  • Glue gun


Remove the cap from the pen. Dispense a thick glob of glue around the entire circumference of the pen approximately 2 inches from the pen tip. Working quickly, insert the pen through the hole of the CD. The line of glue should fill the hole; if it doesn’t, add a dab more glue to secure the pen in the CD hole. Let it dry.

Rolled paper top

This artsy DIY spinning top is a lot of fun to make. It uses the principles of a type of paper art called quilling. These tops can be made of varying sizes, shapes, and colors.

What you’ll need:

  • Colored paper
  • Scissors or a paper cutter
  • Hat pin or quilling tool
  • Paper glue
  • Toothpick or wooden skewer


Use scissors or a paper cutter to cut long, thin strips of paper anywhere from 1/8″ to 1/4″ in diameter. The number of strips you’ll need depends on how wide you want the body of your top to be. I recommend cutting lots of strips! You can always make another top if you end up with extra.

Take one end of a strip of paper and begin wrapping around a hat pin or quilling tool, creating a tight, flat coil of paper. Once you reach the end of the paper strip, add on the next one by overlapping the end of the first strip with the start of the next strip. You can use a tiny dab of glue if needed to hold the strips in place as you work.

Continue to wrap strips of paper around one another until your coil is close to an inch in diameter. Glue down the end of the final paper strip so that the coil can’t expand when you let go. Remove the pin and insert a toothpick or skewer in its place, applying a small amount of glue to hold it there.

Once the glue is dry, use your fingers to “fan out” the paper coil, pulling the outermost paper layers upward and exposing all the paper colors within the coil. You’ll end up with a cone shape.

Origami spinning top

Origami is the art of paper folding. Folded paper is so versatile, it can even be made into a spinning top (with the aid of a toothpick, that is)!

What you’ll need:

  • Two light-weight squares of paper
  • Toothpick


Step 1

Fold the paper square into thirds so that you have a long rectangle.

Repeat with the second piece of paper.

Step 2

Fold down one corner to reach the opposite side.

Repeat this with the diagonal corner.

It should now look like a parallelogram.

Do this with the second piece of paper.

Step 3

Rotate one of the pieces of paper 90 degrees and place it on top of the other piece so that you have a star-like shape.

Step 4

Fold a corner from the paper in the back across the center of the paper in the front.

Step 5

Fold a corner from the paper in front down over the corner that was folded in on the previous step.

Step 6

Fold the second corner from the bottom paper across the center.

Step 7

Fold in the remaining corner toward the center of the piece, tucking the tip into the pocket that was formed in the previous steps.

Finally, poke a toothpick through the center and it is ready to spin!

Acorn spinning top

Acorns are nature’s spinning top. It’s possible to spin an acorn like a top without doing anything to it at all – just hold it upright on a level surface and give it a spin. However, with just a bit of alteration, you can turn it into a true spinning top.

What you’ll need:

  • Acorn
  • Thin twig
  • Wood glue
  • Drill with a small drill bit

Remove the cap from the acorn, if it has one. Use the drill to make a hole in the center of the acorn’s top, drilling no more than about halfway down into the acorn. The drill bit that you use should approximately match the diameter of your twig.

Cut a piece of twig about 1.5 to 2 inches long. Insert it into the drilled hole, trimming it as needed to fit snugly. Once you’ve ensured a good fit, remove the twig. Dab a bit of wood glue on the end of the twig, reinsert it into the acorn, and give it time to dry.

If you like these DIY tops, you’re sure to enjoy precision metal tops, too!

I hope you were inspired to make a spinning top using one of the methods above! If you’re having fun playing with your homemade tops, you may have even more fun with a precision machined metal top that is perfectly balanced and virtually indestructible. Check out the tops I make in the Scovie top shop!

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