Reviews: Axis Micro
The Axis Micro Hand Spinner has a strong place within the pantheon of "available" hand spinners; debuted originally in a composite form, the design itself made a strong early impression with its heavily tapered poles, spherical weights, large grips and table spinning functionality. From there Alexander White of Last Room Standing sought to take this early promise and push it further with a full metal version and a hugely successful pre-order campaign. The metal Axis Micro was to be produced via third party machining and with a choice of stainless steel and copper for the bodies and tungsten, stainless or brass for the weights. Now that all those initial orders have been fulfilled, a brass bodied version is on the horizon and following some issues with the difficulties of sourcing an ideal machine shop for the future, it looks as though the Axis Micro has a long future ahead.
From the outset this design just screams fidget-friendly ergonomics, but there's more to the Axis Micro than just that. Sure, this is a compact design in many regards but it has some heft in the hand that lends it a real sense of substance and the mix of press fit steel spheres set in smoothly curved dishes, sweeping chamfers and concentric circle inlaid grip design make for a rather complex overall look. On top of all this, the Axis Micro was intended to be a breeze to service and customize where the 608 bearing is concerned, which brings me to one of the things that leaves me conflicted with this spinner; the bearing is secured by a single, hex-type grub screw. I think it's fair to say that at this point this method of bearing fixture is viewed with skepticism, with the feeling being that a close glue fit is the optimum setup for performance. However, that does take away the option for bearing swap outs and arguably makes cleaning your bearing a little less intuitive and, perhaps most importantly, there is a certain character lent by the set screw bearing method, particularly with a single pressure point as seen here, that is absent in other designs. The greater the level of torque imparted on the screw, the more the bearing becomes slightly misshapen under the pressure and the more tactile feedback that imparts to the user, albeit at the expense of objective smoothness and spin time. From a purely personal point of view, I would much rather have seen multiple set screws here, as employed in something like the Vorso Flat Top, thus allowing greater ability to tune the balance between tactility and spin performance. All that being said, the eleven individual parts that make up the Axis Micro still come together to form a beguilingly attractive package and the visual effect of the reflective spheres during the spin is beautiful in of itself.
Having touched upon the impact the set screw has on the performance of the Axis Micro, let's move on by saying that I've judged the following based upon setting the screw with just enough pressure to avoid the bearing slipping during use, but not so much that the deformation of the bearing shape is highly noticeable during the spin. This thing is just such a pleasure to use; it launches beautifully with any flick method and progresses into a very tactile yet smooth spin. This isn't the smoothness you expect from a finely tuned, glue-fit r188 based spinner as it's nothing like as evenly balanced but in the the form of a fidget-focused, 1-2min spin time piece like this, it's just compellingly addictive. The strong center weighting, negative arm taper and rounded contact points are all huge pluses for the ergonomics, but sadly this myriad of riches is marred slightly by some less than perfect machine finishing. There's some notably sharp edges here, particularly on the fine ridge that leads into the sphere hollows, and a multitude of fairly course tool marks that seem incongruous when set against such a fantastic, well considered and ergonomic design. In line with these concerns are some small issues with the grips/buttons also; they share some of the less than ideal finish work but also sport a curiously short thread and a female side that becomes very difficult to remove from the bearing once inserted. Less than ideal on a design where bearing swap out and maintenance is a key feature.
As you may have guessed in reading the above, I have very mixed feelings about Last Room Standing's Axis Micro. On one hand I see a spinner with some finishing issues, a less than perfect bearing fixture and a few details which feel like a compromise to meet deadlines more than what was truly intended. On the other hand, this is one of my absolute favorite hand spinners and has been in constant use since its arrival in my collection. The design itself is a minor work of aesthetic and ergonomic genius in my opinion and even with the issues, that side of things seems to shine through and overshadow any other concerns. As such, I find myself willing to enthusiastically recommend the Axis Micro on its merits while advising caution in your expectations of its finish quality.
I firmly hope that any further machine shops that Alexander White uses for future production take the Axis to even greater heights and hopefully supply will increase accordingly also. Currently you can Pre-Order the Stainless Steel Axis Micro version 2 from the Last Room Standing website and I would advise you keep an eye on the corresponding Facebook group for further production updates.
Model Reviewed: Stainless Steel Body & Stainless Steel Weights - Bones Ceramic Reds 608 bearing
Posted By: Stuart Robson