Labyrinth Game for Two Players

  • Advertise with us
Project by Brit posted 05-06-2012 08:57 PM 12165 views 17 times favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the first of a number of woodworking projects my wife asked me to make for the street party she is organizing for 235 residents on 6th June to celebrate Queen Elizabeth ll’s diamond jubilee. Apart from using a router to hollow out the lid of the ball delivery system and a cordless drill to drill around 200 holes to screw the walls of the labyrinth to the board, it was all made with hand tools.

This labyrinth game is for two players and you need a good dose of coordination and concentration to successfully navigate the maze. You also need to communicate with your partner as neither player can see all the holes from where they stand. The only rule is that you cannot tilt the game in any direction more than 45 degrees.

I designed the labyrinth route in Sketchup and used it as a guide to measure and cut all the pieces which are made from pine. They are joined at the corners with hand-cut box joints and a few halving joints for good measure.

I added a turnstile to the game for a bit of variation which is made of hard maple and beech dowels.

The frame (4ft x 2ft) is made from pine joined at the corners with through dovetails. The grooves in the frame were ploughed with a Record 044. There are three levels; the top is 4mm clear perspex, the labyrinth and bottom layers are 4mm MDF.

I designed the ball delivery mechanism to convert 8mm of sping-loaded linear travel between two stops to 90 degrees rotational movement. This lifts the ball from the bottom layer after it has fallen through one of the holes and puts it back into play on the labyrinth layer. It took quite a lot of experimenting with MacDonalds coffee stirrers and sewing pins before I got the linkage lengths and pivot positions worked out correctly.

Here’s a quick and dirty video of the finished mechanism with the covers removed. It is made from hard maple with a sapele knob operated by the player’s thumb. There are two fixed pivot points and three moving pivot points, one of which has a slightly elongated hole as it connects a link moving in an arc with a link moving in a straight line.

<iframe src=”” frameborder=”0” height=”480” width=”640”></iframe>

This project was never meant to be ‘fine woodworking’, but it was great fun to make and quite challenging to design.

Thanks for looking!

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

37 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17325 posts in 3702 days

#1 posted 05-06-2012 09:28 PM

Wow, Andy! Totally an amazing job, your talent is incredible. Congrats on a job well done!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3511 days

#2 posted 05-06-2012 09:30 PM

You will have to pry the game out of the hands of the block partygoers, that looks like a lot of fun, well done!

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3682 days

#3 posted 05-06-2012 09:32 PM

Yes Andy, well done. I am sure it will be enjoyed.

View Don W's profile

Don W

20055 posts in 3651 days

#4 posted 05-06-2012 09:41 PM

Andy, that is amazing. Can I order one?

How many hours do you think you have into it?

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Brit's profile


8324 posts in 3926 days

#5 posted 05-06-2012 09:54 PM

Thanks guys!

Don – Hard to say. I was snatching 1/2 hour here, an hour there. If I had to guess, I’d say about 45 hours. I was kind of making it up as I went along which was silly really. I should have worked it all out properly beforehand. For instance, I cut through dovetails in the frame and then ploughed the grooves with the Record 044. As you know the blade is mounted in a skate, so I had to plough straight through the dovetails, which meant they no longer looked pretty. That’s why I covered them with the corner pieces.

Also, when I started the labarynth, I was just going to stick a box on the end to catch the ball which could then be manually fed through a hole back into the labarynth layer. However, I realised that since the player’s hands were both occupied holding the handles, they would have to balance the frame on their knee while they fed the ball back in. So I gave myself more work designing and making the mechanism.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Brandon's profile


4381 posts in 4035 days

#6 posted 05-06-2012 10:08 PM

Nice Andy! It looks hard! Now all we need is a video of it in action.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View waho6o9's profile


9019 posts in 3661 days

#7 posted 05-06-2012 10:20 PM

I knew you could bring the astronauts home Andy! Great job.

View TechRedneck's profile


770 posts in 3941 days

#8 posted 05-06-2012 10:23 PM

Looks like a lot of work, but the result is amazing. Post a video if it in action.

I have two pinball machines in my house from the late 60’s and early 70’s. They are always a hit at parties and with the grandkids when they visit. This will be cherished for years to come.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View Brit's profile


8324 posts in 3926 days

#9 posted 05-06-2012 10:24 PM

Brandon – I was going to shoot a proper video of it in action, but the light was fading. I’ll take some video on the day of the street party and add it to the project to give it a bit of context.

Waho6o9 – LOL. Actually she did tell me that she thought I’d done an amazing job once I’d finished it.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Brit's profile


8324 posts in 3926 days

#10 posted 05-06-2012 10:39 PM

Tech – Always wanted a pinball machine. Funny you should mention them because when I was making this, I thought it would be rather cool to have an all wooden pinball machine. Now that would be a challenge!

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3924 days

#11 posted 05-07-2012 01:38 AM

This is in the style of the originals. Andy this would keep me mesmerized for hours. I love that you can’t see all the holes from one perspective. The launching mechanism is flawless. You have built a wonderful machine. Job well done. And I hope your wife was thrilled.
Well done, bravo!

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Brad's profile


1147 posts in 3824 days

#12 posted 05-07-2012 03:46 AM

That’s amazing Andy. The real question is, did you step into a phone booth to change into your Superman outfit before you worked on this project, or did you tackle it as mild-mannered Clark Kent? You should be working for NASA or CERN. The only downside is that nuclear physics would eventually bore you. Once a man figures out the mysteries of the universe, well hell, hand planes are the final frontier.

The video of the mechanism is cool, though it ended before I had a chance to see you and your wife beat the Labyrinth. I dare say, the Queen would be quite proud of her ingenious subject. Three cheers to you Andy.

Should be fun to see what other stuff you build for the event.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View llwynog's profile


288 posts in 3663 days

#13 posted 05-07-2012 06:57 AM

Andy, this looks like a ton of fun both designing it and playing with it.
Special award for the launching mechanism.

-- Fabrice - "On est bien bête mais on sent bien quand on se fait mal" - my grandfather

View Brit's profile


8324 posts in 3926 days

#14 posted 05-07-2012 10:17 AM

Dave – Thanks. That mechanism did stretch me a bit. You have to be incredible accurate with the linkage lengths and the holes for the fixed pivots. Even if you are out by 1/2 mm, you can affect teh rotational movement by 5-10 degrees.

Brad – I definitely felt like Superman when I finally designed a mechanism that I kew would work, but I felt like Clark Kent trying to make it accurately enough with hand tools. :-)

llwynog – It is great fun. When I finished the labarynth layer, I dry fitted it in the frame and we had a go. I thought it was too easy, so I drilled more holes at strategic points to make it harder. Since then, I haven’t been able to do it yet, but there’s one consolation when the ball goes down a hole and that’s that I get to use my mechanism. I’m just amazed it works.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4418 days

#15 posted 05-07-2012 11:06 AM

Great work Andy and it looks like great fun too. This game is sure to be a hit on the big day. I think your ball insertion mechanism is very clever. Well done on all counts!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

showing 1 through 15 of 37 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics