Former scientists eye spin-top title
If you asked Warwick Smith or Murray Jansen what makes a good spinning top, you’d get a lecture about aerodynamics and weight distribution.
The pair are members of the Guild of Woodworkers Wellington and have been creating spinning tops for years, entering competitions and coming out on top with the longest spins.
But their background stems from something completely different.
Before they retired, the Porirua residents worked as scientists for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
Jansen and Smith said woodwork had always been a hobby and that making a top always came back to getting the physics right – something that kept the interest alive.
‘‘We wanted to know what made tops slow down and what affected them spinning,’’ Smith said.
‘‘There’s definitely a sense of curiosity behind my interest,’’ Jansen said.
‘‘Maybe it’s because we’re kids or because there’s a challenge in creating the optimum design.’’
For the past few years, Jansen and Smith have put their heads together to come up with winning designs as part of the biennial Woodturning Plus Exhibition and Festival of Woodskills.
Jansen and Smith spin only once and their record is 14min 16s.
They did toy around with the idea of it being a world record, but decided to let it go because it is just a hobby.
In this year’s competition, Smith is carrying the flame and will attempt to better their record.
Asked what kind of design he had in mind, Smith said ‘‘ watch this space’’.
‘‘There’s a lot of research that goes into it,’’ he said.
Jansen explained that it came down to careful woodworking on the lathe and making sure everything was absolutely centre.
At the last event, guild rep- resentatives from Manawatu proved to very competitive, but left without a win.
Smith presumed they would be back on the attack this year and hoped his design would spin well.
Murray Jansen, left, and Warwick Smith are working on a new spinning top for a woodskills competition in July.