Marble Machine #1 - Cherry Marble Automation Machine

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Project by Elizabeth posted 12-31-2016 04:04 AM 3179 views 4 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been wanting to build wooden machines for decades. My four year old has recently become fascinated by “contraptions” so I felt it was my parental duty to finally get up and make one.

Inspired by a marble staircase machine kit advertised on Tinker Crate, I looked around for plans and found some at Scrollsaw Workshop. I had a couple of days off for the holidays while the kids were in daycare, so I took advantage of the time to try to build two machines in this style.

I got one of them finished, and also made a few adjustments to the plans to accommodate the lack of a working router and my apparent inability to cut a straight interior rectangle on my scroll saw. I learned how to cut an angled channel using my table saw, and some creative methods of making compound cuts using a gripper and a whole lot of careful attention. I’ve also got some more plan modifications in mind to incorporate into the second one, and maybe to add on to the first one.

Everything is glued except the cams (which are a pretty tight press fit) and the two uprights which are screwed to the base with two countersunk #6 screws each. I put some stickyback felt on the bottom to prevent scratching furniture and cover the screw holes.

This one is mostly made of cherry but I don’t know what wood the five dark “step” blocks is. I have a healthy supply of random lumber in my shop now so was able to find pieces that could be sized for all parts without having to buy anything. I also discovered that I don’t own any rasps, and could stand to get some small woodcarving tools.

This was a lot of fun and I’m hoping to do more. I’m also hoping it won’t be too long before I manage to finish the second one – there are no more days off for quite some time. Weekends don’t count, as daycare is closed!

Update – after a few days the press fit cams were no longer tight due to wood movement, so they are now glued in place. I ended up applying a finish as well; the last picture is with the finish on.

5 comments so far

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4610 days

#1 posted 12-31-2016 04:31 AM

Nice job, that should keep him busy.

View DocSavage45's profile


9069 posts in 4084 days

#2 posted 12-31-2016 05:15 AM

Two kids playing with toys! Just yours are more dangerous? You’re going to have two happy kids. LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View ToyMakingDad's profile


85 posts in 3253 days

#3 posted 12-31-2016 02:43 PM

It looks great and super solid. Definitely on my list list of things I want to try.
Really good job.

-- Toy Making Dad, Northern Virginia,

View ralbuck's profile


6771 posts in 3508 days

#4 posted 12-31-2016 06:33 PM

Toy making is a joy of it’s own.

Nice work.

The kids (even some taller/older ones ==20’s -30’s and above) will play with that!

I still play with every toy I make.

Plans are MERELY a place to start the process FROM!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Pointer's profile


465 posts in 2353 days

#5 posted 12-31-2016 10:45 PM

I agree with Doc, playing with your toys to make other toys is a wonderful thing woodworkers do. I know your son will enjoy this as each of us would have loved it at that age as well.

-- Joe - I am not entirely worthless, I can always serve as a bad example.

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