REVIEW – There are fiddly little things that we Gadgeteers like to see, touch, and have around us. For some, it’s little (or big) action figures, trade-show tchotchkes, or gaming miniatures. For some, it’s a stress ball, worry stone, or a fidget spinner. And, for some, it is highly precision-made things of beauty. The Schulte editions of spinning tops from Bruce Charles Designs hit several of these categories. I was sent models in both brass and stainless steel to review, along with a 100 mm Fused Silica Glass concave spinning base.
What is it?
Precision spinning tops CNC machined from solid metals.
What’s in the box?
- Finely crafted spinner in bronze or stainless steel
- Velveteen drawstring pouch
Bruce Charles Design Spinning Tops are designed and manufactured for the joy they provide the creator, user, and observer through form, pattern, design, and beauty. Their ultimate goal is for you to share it with a friend, who will spin it and say “That’s cool!” I like that as a product goal!
Each spinning top is individually milled and fitted with a silicon nitride ceramic bearing. This lowers the friction, which makes the tops spin longer and with less wobble, which makes them more enjoyable.
Design and features
The tops are milled from a solid piece of metal, with a base about 24 mm in diameter. You could call it 7/8” or so. The base is about 5-6 mm thick on the outer rim, but tapers in several millimeters to make the outer ring heavier. The stem rises from the base about 18 mm, and is knurled for the last 9 mm. The tip under the base rises slightly from a similar taper as the stem, and is fitted with a rounded silicon nitride ceramic bearing. The bronze model I was sent weighs 35 grams, and the stainless steel one weighs 33 grams. For the size, they have a nice heft in your hand, and the knurling makes you want to bring it up to your eye and examine it more closely. They are things of beauty.
While I have used spinning tops in the past, I have not used one that is this heavily designed or precision balanced. When I was a kid, tops were a thing for a summer or two, and my friends and I spent hours competing in how long we could make ours spin. Apparently, this is still a thing in some circles, and there are collectors of hand-crafted tops. After spinning these a few times, I can see some of the appeal, but they spin quite a long time. The light box shots (blue fabric background) accompanying this review were all shot during one spin, and I wasn’t in a hurry. I’d say it spun for a good 5 minutes, which I never got to with my childhood wooden tops, even when I replaced the metal tip with a new Teflon one. So they really spin a long time, if you get the angle just right.
The glass lens spinning base makes a big difference, in that it causes the top to drift toward the center, rather than off the surface you’re spinning on. While you still have to be pretty good about starting a decent spin to keep it on the base, those “iffy” spins are frequently saved by the concave surface of the lens base.
What I like
- Spins for a magically long time
- Weighty and well-balanced
What I’d change
- Not a thing
Many of us spend a large amount of time at desks. Whether it’s in video conference calls, customer support calls, tech support for our issues, or just surfing the news media and social networks incessantly, we’re logging some serious desk time. During these times, we frequently need something to do with our hands. Sure, some of the time we’re taking notes, or writing up support cases for escalation. But often you’re just letting your caller vent, or trying to understand the difficult problem they are going through, or letting a conference call go on without trying to make assumptions and think of your next comment. This calls for something to fidget with.
I found these tops to be very soothing and fun. Spinning them takes a little practice and patience. Soon, you’ll have a spin that just goes and goes and goes, and you start to understand the attraction.
Price: Schulte Brass and Stainless Steel models are $29.99 each, and the spinning base is $17.95. There are other metals and packages available on the website.
Where to buy: brucecharlesdesigns.com and Amazon
Source: The samples of these products were provided by Bruce Charles Designs.