How-To: Make an inverting top

Education Fun & Games

An inverting or tippe top is a classic physics toy: a spinning top that spontaneously inverts itself to spin on its handle at high speed, then rolls back over onto its base when it stops. Turns out, four spheres joined in a close-packed tetrahedron will do the same thing, and this quick video tutorial from YouTuber VTK9990 shows one made from four marbles and some epoxy. [via The Automata / Automaton Blog]


12 thoughts on “How-To: Make an inverting top

  1. adcurtin says:

    It’s not inverting, it’s just flipping up on its side.

    p.s. why is the the blog still on movable type, I thought make was switching (i want a username without a 2 at the end).

    1. Sean Michael Ragan says:

      But the classic tippe top does, in fact, invert.

      1. Sean Michael Ragan says:

        When I watch the video closely, I see a tetrahedron composed of two orange and two green cat’s eye marbles. The video starts with a green marble “up” and, while the top is spinning in its “excited state,” it has another green marble “down.” But I think they are not the same green marble.

  2. says:

    Neils Bohr and Wolfgang Pauli with tipee top, U. Lund Sweden on May 31 1951. Photograph by Erik Gustafson:

    Also search for “Superegg” of mathematician-poet Piet Hein

    And try the “Oloid” by P. Schatz

    Reuleaux Triangle of F. Reuleaux

    My own contribution is “Square Wheels” (on

    – Naive you are
    if you believe
    life favors those
    who aren’t naive.

    1. Sean Michael Ragan says:


  3. Devenda says:

    I made one 2 years ago, with the help of this video, cuit funny and intriguing.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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