Marble Run

marble run
my marble run

A marble run that fits into a case that can be fixed to the wall. The marbles are actually 8mm steel balls that are collected at the bottom and fed in the top.

The box was made from 12mm thick MDF and then painted with blackboard paint.

The design for the marble run was then sketched out with chalk pens. Actually looking back I got fairly close to this design in the end.

marble run drafted out in the box

The “pins of chance” were made from 12mm diameter aluminium round rod, machined on the trusty Hobbymat. Fixed to the board from behind with 3mm countersunk bolts. These pins were a good choice as they are robust and they just work.

Some of the other parts of the design took a couple of goes, an example of this is the staircase.

Wooden Staircase

My thinking for the staircase was to have a fast way out, rather like the game of snakes and ladders.

So, another go at making the staircase. This time I made individual steps from mahogany with an ash stair guard rail.

This image shows 3 sections of the staircase fixed together with one of the 8mm balls balanced on a landing.

The steps were actually made in long sections and then sliced on the bandsaw. The hard part was the assembly process, lots of patience needed.

One of the big concerns with the staircase was making it square and getting the marbles to run. I tried to get around this by building onto a flat surface as you can see in the images above and using a ruler along the edge. When I left the staircase overnight during the build I arranged weights on top to ensure it didn’t move out of shape.

The staircase was assembled with 4 corner posts that run through from top to bottom.

This allowed me to build the staircase on a flat board, with weights holding it all in place.

Once I had enough staircase parts to make a working section it was then just wonderful to hold and feel the amount of work that I’d put into it.

The resultant size of the staircase is shown here. It is still not fully assembled and it is quite delicate at this point, even though the centre corner posts are in place.


I made the “flip-flop” from a laminate of oak and mahogany. The shape was cut out roughly using the bandsaw and then sanded using a special block I made to work in the pillar drill.

The rocking was achieved with a steel post bolted to the board from behind. The oak rocker has a brass tube.

About Nigel 319 Articles
Have been making models since I was around 7 years old and using a lathe from the age of 11, a self taught engineer with a passion for making model engines.

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