Laser etched YoYos and Tops

Ever since I was a kid had a fascination with wooden yoyos and tops. Even used yoyos as a stress reliever when thinking about a technical problem at work. In the mid 80s I came across Tom Kuhn yoyos, one of which is pictured below. He uses laser cut patterns including mandalas on his wooden yoyos. The Glowforge would be well suited to engraving this type of thing since the surface curves at the edge. (much like that seen in the MacBook demo) Making a wood yoyo or top on the lathe is easy, carving a personalized image much harder. I see next years Christmas toys starting to come into focus.



You can turn your own on a lathe, but at $1.90 each, (cheaper if you want quantities larger than 250) not sure it’s worth my time to turn on the lathe.

I can’t vouch for their quality or the site these are on, but I am sure there are other suppliers.

Thanks, you are correct that turning on a lathe is more of an exercise than what makes economic sense. If I were to start pumping out more than just a few I would need to purchase from a bulk supplier. Not sure about the supplier listed but would want a material like hard maple. I’ve seen a bunch made out of some really trashy material. I would twist the yoyos apart, remove the inferior axle and replace with a good hard maple axle. Doesn’t matter how cool they look if it only plays like a $2.00 yoyo. Also want to do wooden spin tops. Lots of other stuff on the brain.


Good motivation to get my lathe fixed. The step pulley on the headstock spindle was broken off and missing. Haven’t been able to find a replacement part.

What model/make of lathe? You might try for help at WoodCentral turning forum. There are a lot of knowledgeable people there.

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American Machine and Tool 5300. Got it at an auction and thought it would be easy to replace the cone. I’ve never done the forum because I hate to just post and run for one thing. Doesn’t seem fair. Just never got around to it as other projects took over. Now that I have the GF on order, I’m getting my shop all spiffed up to prep the wood Ill use. Hadn’t thought of yoyos but @rpegg comes through again.

Also had in mind these types of two piece spin tops with laser designs or patterns. Lots of other simple toys but you get the idea.

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Like this one?

Couldn’t find an image of the drive setup, standard v-belt?

Yep. That’s it.
It’s a v belt. I can’t figure it out because it’s broken between the shaft and the bearing. Like there is a small insert thats part of the pull that goes between the shaft and bearing. Never found a parts diagram. Don’t want to hijack this excellent thread. The tops are pretty too.

I was at a conference last year where someone was doing mindbending yoyo tricks. I asked to try his and was dumbfounded - I couldn’t get it to come back up. I’m not a pro but I used to be pretty decent.

He explained that this was a $100 yo-yo, one of his least expensive, and that the world was different now; in the past decade or two, serious yo-yo folks were minimizing friction at all costs and even getting the darn things to return to you took superhuman acts.

I might be misremembering and he might have been exaggerating, but for what it’s worth: there are some really expensive yo-yos out there that operate in a whole different league.


Yes, the one pictured has a ball bearing assisted axle, I bought it in the mid 80s and cost about $35 then. The manufacturer currently sells models between $10 and $150.

Lol, I found I’ve picked up using Yo-yos at work to battle stress while thinking too. My co-workers - all high tech buts - think I’m weird for having such a “dated” hobby. Makes me laugh when they try it, though. :slight_smile: Happy to hear someone else out there has the same tick. :slight_smile:


For a while I had a single person campaign to bring back the yoyo, but I didn’t get very far. I just bought a new one when I was in CO for the holiday, so maybe I’ll bring it into the office and show off my couple of tricks.

Cool, I have easily 300 yoyos. Many vintage, a bunch are new high tech very balanced, etc. Can do some tricks but honestly it’s mostly the up and down that allows my mind to focus on other technical issues. Kind of like that hover board in the office.