Crafting simple toys is a niche within woodworking, perhaps the most popular Amish industry.
Today’s video shows an Amishman in Shipshewana, Indiana, demonstrating the art of woodturning as he creates that classic toy of yesteryear–a wooden top.
It’s an eleven minute video, but if you watch just the first couple of minutes you’ll get a sense of how it works.
It’s actually quite captivating watching the wood melting away like butter, as the man skillfully maneuvers his cutting tool while the lathe rapidly spins. Gradually a top emerges from what began as a nondescript block of wood.
According to the sign seen in the video, the business is called The Turning Point, it specializes in “Old Fashioned Spinning Tops and Games,” and is run by a Henry Detweiler.
A couple of minutes in, the video maker asks Detweiler how long it takes to create a top. He guesses “six to eight minutes, maybe ten.”
“How did you learn how to make this?” another observer asks.
“The hard way” he replies, to hearty laughter. In contrast to what many Amish craftspeople do, he explains that he had no one to teach him–but he did have “an old book.”
As Detweiler continues, putting the finishing touches on the toy, the skill required is further evident. How many tops has this fellow crafted in his life? I would guess more than a few.
Skip to about the 10:30 mark to see the fun part, as he spins the final product using a string.
Amish are often described as “old-fashioned,” which can be a generalization. But it does seem to fit when considering many of the crafts and skills they continue to practice today.