I’ve just moved to a new house and with that comes all of the new decor and furniture. (Especially since we’ve had two intercontinental moves, we’re starting almost from scratch in the furniture department.) As an avid crafter, I love being able to customize everything, so I gravitate to unfinished wood items whenever possible. However, those things can be really tricky to finish — all of that rotating, flipping over, letting one side dry while you’re eager to get to the next — it can be hard to cope, especially if you have several projects in the queue.
As a former (and hopefully soon to be renewed) potter, I have learned how having a rotating surface can make life much easier for painting, decoupage and other finishing projects. I have a few lazy susans that have followed me around the world, but let’s face it, they’re not ideal. So when the VersaSpin 360 entered my life, I was eager to put it through its paces.
The VersaSpin is a plastic turntable on a bearing system with some pyramid-shaped holders and some flat triangle holders with a grippy surface. Â Here is how it is described by the maker:
VERSASPIN 360Â is a unique and versatile project support system that allows you toÂ securely elevateÂ andÂ effortlessly rotateÂ projects toÂ improve results,Â save timeÂ andÂ save effort.
Included accessories, Painter’s PyramidsÂ® and Grabbersâ„¢, enable use across a wide variety of projects. Both accessories can be placed to offer customized support for every project.
The VersaSpin 360 comes in two sizes: 11 inches in diameter and 16 inches in diameter. The 11 inch model can hold up to 25 pounds of weight while the 16 inch (which is what I have) can hold up to 200 pounds according to the package, although the FAQ says 100. I have not had enough weight on it to be able to tell how it holds up to more than 100 pounds. The Painter’s Pyramids and Grabbers can be used without the VersaSpin 360 base and can hold up to 200 pounds.
The Painter’s Pyramids are little plastic pyramids with holes in the bottom that fit onto the pegs on the VersaSpin 360′s base. You get 8 of each with the 16 inch and 4 of each with the 11 inch. Â It takes at least 3 pyramids to balance an object, the more you use the more stable the object will be in my experience.
I couldn’t quite figure out why you’d need both, so I played around a little bit. The Painter’s Pyramids are needed when you want the underside to be exposed to air while you are working on the other sides, such as if it is drying or getting tacky. It make leave little blemishes where the Pyramids were supporting the object but depending on the finish that may not show much or it may be quite easy to fix.Â You can always let that side dry before turning the item over, if you want to avoid these little blemishes. Pyramids are also crucial if you are working with an item that does not have a flat base, such as a bowl. Anything that can stand up steadily while balanced on the Pyramids’ points can be used with the VersaSpin 360 system.
The Grabbers, on the other hand, give maximum stability when you are doing something that involves a lot of movement or friction. While I found I did not need them for doing hand-sanding, they are recommended if you are going to be using a mechanical sander. I don’t have one of those in my toolkit at the moment so I was unable to test that part out. The Grabbers can also be paired with the Pyramids so that they can be used on surfaces other than the VersaSpin 360 base. Put a Grabber in the base of a Pyramid and you have a Pyramid that will hold fairly steady even though it is not being held in place by pegs. I found it is best if you do not try to do this on a very shiny surface, the Grabbers need something more porous or rough to get a good grip. I think the combination would be fine on a shiny surface such as a drop cloth if you are just painting, but for sanding I found they wobbled on me a little.
Let’s see this baby in action!
First I wanted to try the Painter’s Pyramids, mostly because I was a bit dubious about how well they’d hold things steady. If you just look at them, you’d think tiny little points would allow the item to slide around, right? Well I had to find out.
The Pyramids were a little tricky to get fitted onto the base. I’m a bit daft and it took me a while to figure out how to find two pegs spaced the right distance apart in the area where I wanted the pyramid to be. I don’t honestly think this is hard, but I still can’t quite wrap my head around how to get them exactly where I want them. Fortunately, this is the hardest thing about using the VersaSpin 360 and the whole system is so forgiving that it doesn’t matter if the Pyramid is half an inch to the left of where you wanted it to be, unless you have a very small and oddly shaped item.
Once those were on, it was time to see how well the Pyramids would hold. A sturdy, wooden box seemed like an ideal thing to test out and I happened to have three in need of work.
There’s a lot of clearance under the pyramids, I can see why this would be good if you needed to have all sides drying at the same time.
The box and drawers weigh about 8 pounds total, yet I could spin them around on this base with one finger. I was very impressed at how smooth the rotation is. I hadn’t even been all that fussy with the placement of the Pyramids. It turns out is is more important to have the weight distributed over the center of the base but not as important how far apart the Pyramids are spaced. You do want them far enough out from the center though so that the item does not topple over.
How is it with more weight? Well, I grabbed the nearest heavy-ish thing I could find. My cat.
So now with 15 pounds of nearly solid fat on top of the wooden box, it still spun without effort. When the cat jumped off in terror it sent the whole box spinning around and around and around. I was laughing too hard to get any video. However, the way the bearing system works I feel this would be very easy to spin even at much heavier weights, as long as the weight is fairly evenly distributed over the base. But even after the cat jumped off and the box spun around uncontrollably, it never wobbled or moved at all from its position on the Pyramids, despite the force of her jumping.
I then used the Grabbers instead of the Pyramids. Unfortunately, when the Grabbers are underneath the project, you can’t really get a good photograph of it. The Grabbers themselves have a base with some grippy material and three recessed holes. Those holes will fit over pegs on the base on the VersaSpin 360 and makes for a very snug and secure placement. The other side of the Grabbers is covered entirely with the grip material so when you place a flat object on top of it, that object is not going anywhere, not even if you break out the power tools.
I almost didn’t want to take the Grabbers off as the whole thing was so sturdy, but I decided to try hand-sanding the box while it was on the Pyramids. After all, the Grabbers only work for flat things so I needed to know how well the Pyramids could hold the item steady in the face of some movement and pressure. As I started to stand the box, I realized that it makes a lot more sense to do this on a table, and maybe not in full sun. So I moved to my porch where, alas, the lighting is not as good.
The box stayed firmly in place despite my best efforts at sanding all of the surfaces. I was genuinely concerned that the box might slide around but it did not. The only wobble I experienced was from the table I had put it on, whereas on the ground it had been rock steady. I think the moral of the story is that I need a more stable table!
At this point I was starting to think that maybe the Pyramids were the magic ingredient rather than the base. What if I just used the Pyramids and Grabbers on my old lazy susan?
I don’t know if you can see it but each Painter’s Pyramid is resting on an upside-down Grabber. The grippy part of the Grabber is face down against the lazy susan. Just a few seconds of sanding and I could tell that this contraption was considerably less stable than the VersaSpin 360. Indeed, the Grabbers couldn’t get a good grip on the slick surface of the lazy susan and the Pyramids started wobbling.
Another thing the VersaSpin 360 has it its favor: the entire base is level and the rotating section is underneath the entire base surface area. See how in the photo above the lazy susan only has a rotating section in the very center of the platform? This means the lazy susan is very unsteady if you are putting any pressure or movement on the outer edges. The VersaSpin 360 does not have this problem in its original form.
However, the VersaSpin 360 does have the option for you to drill out a few pilot holes (in conveniently marked locations on the underside) and then attach a larger platform to the top. For instance you could screw a piece of plywood to the VersaSpin 360 and then the entire surface would rotate. In this situation you’d have the same issues as with the lazy susan. You’d need to be very careful that you keep the weight primarily on the VersaSpin 360 base and be careful with downward Â and sideways force. Hopefully if your extended platform does not have a glossy surface the Grabbers might get a better grip and not wobble around as much, but I was unable to test this personally. I would still recommend caution if using an extended platform.
I’m only at the sanding stage for all of my projects, so I have not yet gone on to paint. I was concerned about how much of a mess there might be if I used primers and paints or stains on the VersaSpin 360 base and the instructions said that I could use “gentle solvents” but not “harsh chemicals”. It has been a long time since I had a chemistry class so I wasn’t sure what counts as a “gentle solvent” but the FAQ on the website cleared this up: you can use any cleaner typically used in woodwork, but you should avoid any acids. In addition, the way the Â plastic pieces are made many things can just be wiped off easily without any cleansers required. Further, the website suggested that you use plastic wrap on the VersaSpin 360 base to avoid any drips or spills getting onto it at all. There is one warning, though: if the product (paint, glue, etc.) you are using is meant to stick to plastic, it won’t be removable from the base or components. The maker recommends that you avoid using things like superglue or crazy glue as they will adhere permanently. I would suggest avoiding paint designed for glossy surfaces too. You wouldn’t want to get paint caked around the pegs and thus have a hard time fitting the Grabbers or Painter’s Pyramids to them in the future.
In all, I think this platform system is a vast improvement over a traditional lazy susan. Because it retails for $34.99 for the 16-inch model and $24.99 for the 11 (although it can be found cheaper online), it is good investment for anyone who regularly works with 3-D objects that require painting, staining, decoupaging or other finishing. It would probably be good for working with greenware clay and other sculpting applications that do not require tremendous force. I would even think it useful for glueing items together or just about any application where you need to hold the base of the object steady while you apply other things to it or gently remove things from it.
Even if you don’t need for an item to rotate, the Painter’s Pyramids and Grabbers will hold your project steady while you work and are a valuable addition to a finisher’s tool set. They can be used independently on a floor or other level surface if you just want to support an item while it dries or glue sets up.
There are some things that I think are missing from the package. I wish the maker would come out with an extended platform that would seat snugly on the existing base but provide more pegs so that you could attach the Pyramids and Grabbers to it securely. I also would like to see a way to prop up, clamp or otherwise support objects that are tall and thin. For example, I have an old corkboard that I would like to spray paint. I could lay it down flat but it’s much easier to work with spray paint if the can is upright, so I’d like to be able to stand it up. It doesn’t look like this is going to be possible with the current VersaSpin 360 components.
I’ve got a lot more sanding to do and then half a dozen pieces of unfinished wood furniture to paint and seal. Â What would you do with a VersaSpin 360?
Disclosure: Sample provided for review.