I love fingerspins. They are one of my favorite things to do with a yoyo. They're simple to learn, hard to master, quick to impress, and you can add so many layers to the trick with hops or fancy binds. As I've been designing yoyos I've found myself more and more including a variety of fingerspin features, but there is one that I just keep coming back to. I call it the Hit it or Hate it hub.
First, here's a variety of throws with some fingerspin-centric hubs:
Obviously I'm not the first one to love fingerspins. I think it's safe to say that Jeffrey Pang popularized the design with the Skyva, and over the year there has been a real rush to jump on the design bandwagon. That's fine! With the Skyva, suddenly everyone could fingerspin like Paul Kerbel. Emulation is the most sincere form of flattery, but more importantly, when something is done right then the most logical thing to do is to try to do it better.
With so many variants of the fingerspin dimple, it's best to make some fast and loose categories:
- Recessed Bowl (Skyva, Superstar Pivot, C3 Vapormotion)
- Expressed Bowl (Joyride, Interlagos, Marvel)
- Flat Recess (Hashtag, Vacation)
- Walls (Pound)
Recessed Bowls are definitely the most common. The Skyva, and all the variants therein, have varying widths and depths, but have the same basic bowl shape recessed into the metal or plastic. Typically this adds a lot of center weight with the intention of making the cup lead directly into the bowl. Personally, this is my least favorite type of fingerspin hub, but it's the most popular because it is the easiest to learn with.
Expressed Bowls are probably the second most common variant. Instead of filling the cup to lead the finger to the dimple, they raise the bowl and keep the cutaways in the cup to remove some of the weight. They're harder to land, and since it isn't recessed your finger is likely to slide out into the cutaways. Once that happens your finger is likely to hit the rim or inner profile, and you're out of luck.
Flat Recess cups are not very commonly used. For the most part designers don't like to keep the cup flat unless they're going for a deliberate minimalist design like the UNPRLD Corruption. Minimalist designs and fingerspin dimples don't normally go hand in hand. The Hashtag gets away with it because of its unique form factor; there isn't that much space from the inner profile walls and the center of the cup. I stuck the Recess Vacation in this category as well but it's a bit of a stretch. I don't believe that the Vacation was specifically designed with fingerspins in mind, particularly because of how wide the recession in the cup is.
Walls are by far my favorite style of fingerspin design, and the Pound is the definitive throw for this category. This is what I mean by Hit it or Hate it. Either you land dead center and have one of the best fingerspins available, or you land outside of the walls and have to try again. The flat bottom leads fewer points of contact than a bowl, which means less friction, which means longer fingerspin times. The walls keeps the fingerspin from going wild like you normally would in a completely flat cup. In my mind, after using just about every yoyo mentioned above, this is the best combination of difficult to land and easy to maintain fingerspins.
Okay. That's out of the way. Fingerspin cups are just a gimmick, they'll die down eventually, right? Fortunately, there are some very real benefits from walled finger cups when it comes to durability.
To put it very simply, longer axles means more threads which means a more durable yoyo. More threads protects the axle from deforming the yoyo when you ding it, and also means it is more difficult to strip threads from over tightening. This is part of the reason there are so many yoyo nipples out there. It's a simple way to increase the length of the axle, which has some very real impacts on durability and reduction of vibe.
How do walled hubs help with thread length? In a recessed bowl, you have to keep the bottom of the cup above the recess, this means you're adding material to cover the distance between the bottom of the cup and the bottom of the bowl. That material adds weight to the area you typically want to minimize. In order to minimize the weight, while still maintaining the needed curve, you lower the dimple as much as you can get away with. Since you don't really want to go any shorter than 6mm axles, you have a maximum depth you're allowed to get away with.
To make it clear you'll want to look at a cross section of some yoyos, so here you go:
You can see the problem pretty clearly here. It's hard to create a deep enough recessed bowl while minimizing the center weight and keeping a sufficiently long axle. An expressed bowl lets you cut away a lot of weight, but to compensate for the round shape you need more area to be a little more forgiving with your soft finger spinning. The flat bottom of a walled hub gives you plenty of area to spin on, while the walls keep it centered enough to minimize wobble. Further, you can bring the center of the yoyo out, while adding minimal weight due to the thin shape of the walls compared to the necessary size of expressed bowls. Essentially, a walled hub gives you the benefit of a yoyo nipple (longer axle) while adding functionality (fingerspins) for very little added weight. It obviously isn't the right choice in every design, but it does give you more options.
I'm sorry if all of that got a little more technical than you wanted. Hopefully you enjoyed the read, or skipped over it and went back to doing something more enjoyable, like fingerspins! The long and short is simple: There is no majorly wrong way to make a fingerspin hub. All of them have their own merits, and how they play will largely come down to personal preference. When I was starting out, the ease of getting pushed to the sweet spot of a Skyva was fantastic, but now the Hit it or Hate it aspect of a walled hub is so satisfying. It forces me to focus on the relative positions of the yoyo and my non-throw hand to land as close to center and as softly as possible, instead of just letting the design do all the work.
If you haven't played a Pound yet, track me down at Virginia States next week. I'm hoping to have a Yanasi prototype with me as well, but unforeseen delays are always possible. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy your weekend!
Corrections: A previous version of this post erroneously referred to Jeffrey Pang as Jeremy Pang. The author was wildly embarrassed. In addition, his wife scolded him for the use of "it's" instead of the grammatically correct "its" one time. Both errors have been rectified.