Learning Yoyo Design - Refreshing My Old Taig Lathe

January 10, 2021

Learning Yoyo Design - Refreshing My Old Taig Lathe

The year was 2006, I was pretty new to yoyoing back then and as a kid I was really active on the forums. I had a weird obsession about how different yoyos felt even more so than learning tricks itself. I think a lot of people who like collecting are similar - they tend to appreciate the feel of multiple yoyos which entices them to build up a library that represents their own taste. In 2006, this was less of an option.

A metal yoyo release was a spectacular event. 14 year old me saved all my weekly paper route money to buy new ones to add to the collection. I was active the most on "Theyo.com" which unfortunately does not exist anymore. There was a section on that forum that was dedicated to modifying yoyos, which at the time blew my mind. I figured that instead of purchasing these expensive yoyos maybe I could make my own feel the way I wanted to. Things like silicone recesses would mean that I wouldn't have to deal with pads that wore out constantly. Or cutting up cheap plastic yoyos to put metal rings on them which sometimes made them play better than even an aluminum counterpart.

I found my dad's old drill and used that to first make different finishes on things like FHZ, and delrin Yoyojams. But I could only do so much - so I asked my parents to buy me this very lathe on my 15th birthday. It opened so many doors, I was able to cut so many different yoyos up and mash them together. I could do silicone recesses so much quicker and easier, id throw metal rings on any plastic yoyo I could get my hands on. Later on I was cutting up aluminum yoyos and making different shapes entirely from scratch. By doing this I was unknowingly learning the importance of weight distribution at a very young age - which affects how I design even the Luftverk yoyos you see today.

A lot of these were machined between 2005-2010, I have a few folders of these but below were some memorable ones.

At the age of 18 I got into cars, and the yoyo hobby just sat on the back burner. I used this lathe for a few other projects but mainly just sat in the basement. When I started 3d printing yoyos, and then later designing for full scale production I had no more real use for the smaller lathe now. Yoyo quality skyrocketed after Yoyofactory's red alert project and the rest was kind of history - yoyos today don't really need these kind of modifications since they just perform so well straight out of the box.

For the past 5 years I've been kind of all over the place, but this lathe just sat in my parents basement and collected dust. I remember it was very gritty and the tolerances were not great since components became so loose over hours of use. I decided to pull it out of storage and bring it back to its former glory. Unsurprisingly it started up (using a modest 1/4hp treadmill motor) and after a full disassembly and lubing feels as good as new. I even found a small shaving of Yoyojam Delrin - likely from a kickside. Trippy to think its more than a decade old...

One of the most important things I learned as mentioned earlier, was weight distribution. I would cut up all sorts of yoyos and just make it for fun because I genuinely enjoyed it. But it taught me what happens when a yoyo was too wide. Or not wide enough. The difference between a rim weighted yoyo vs a center weighted. When I learned CAD to make the Evora, I knew exactly where to put the weight because I was lucky enough to spend all those hours on this very lathe to help me intuitively figure out how to make the correct changes. 

I think modding is now somewhat a lost art. With yoyos being as cheap and good as they are now compared to back then, there seems like theres less of a drive to do what we few did back in the day. With my lathe refreshed sitting next to my 3D printer Ill have the option of revisiting that nostalgic feeling once again. But theres no doubt in my mind that this impacted and shaped what Luftverk is today, and I am forever in debt to this little Taig lathe because of that. 

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