The Modular Marble Machine

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Project by William posted 04-28-2013 01:35 AM 6366 views 33 times favorited 40 comments Add to Favorites Watch

If you’ve been following the blog, the Modular Marble Machine is finally finished. If you remember from the last blog entry, all I really had left was to apply a finish.

That, because of all the small parts, was quite an undertaking in itself.
I wasn’t sure what to use for a finish. I was concerned about the tight tolerances of the block pieces causing issues with finish getting in the holes. In the end, I decided on a polyurethane rub. It is just a mixture of Minwax polyurethane and boiled linseed oil. The base unit got three coats. The block pieces however, because of my concerns, only got a single light sealing coat.

That left us with a finished project. I wanted to show the front of the base unit in this photo because I love the look of this piece of wood I wound up using on it.
All of the block pieces are inside the base unit. It makes it handy to be able to store them all in there if you wish to put it away. It is a puzzle in itself though fitting them all in there.

You can see what I mean here. They have to be arranged just so if you want to place the base plates in where they belong.

After unloading all the pieces though, you put the elevator column in place, replace the feed chute and base plates, and then you can start having fun building marble runs.

You can build single tracks.

You can use the flipflop pieces and build double tracks.


I made videos. The problem is that I have a lot more patience and skill with wood work than I do with computer and video software. After six hours of messing with Windows Movie Maker and coming up very unsuccessful in putting the four video sections I’d made together into on short video, I gave up and uploaded them to YouTube in four parts. So please excuse me for the way I had to do it and watch all four videos below.
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40 comments so far

View jmartel's profile


8856 posts in 2883 days

#1 posted 04-28-2013 01:41 AM

Awesome. I’m saving this for when I have kids in a few years.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3576 days

#2 posted 04-28-2013 01:47 AM

Why wait?
If you build it now, you can have fun with it until the kids get here.


View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 3110 days

#3 posted 04-28-2013 01:50 AM

I bet i would… i mean my SON would have a lot of fun with that.

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3423 days

#4 posted 04-28-2013 01:53 AM

William, I followed the progress and I am still blown away!

LJs, be sure to watch the videos and turn the sound up! VERY cool!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3576 days

#5 posted 04-28-2013 02:58 AM

Only me, you and your son both could have fun with it. Thanks.

Andy, thank you for following along with this project. It has been a lot of fun, but I have to admit, I’m kind of glad this one is over. It started getting kind of tedious towards the end.


View DIYaholic's profile


19917 posts in 3408 days

#6 posted 04-28-2013 03:47 AM

Marble Mania strikes again….

Glad it only became tedious towards the end….
I would hate to see you lose your marbles, with the machine only half finished!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3576 days

#7 posted 04-28-2013 04:10 AM

Thanks Randy.
It was only tedious because making all those small parts had started getting to my back. I enjoyed building this very much, but I think I prefer the fixed track machines that allow me more tinkering time at the work bench so I don’t have to stand so much.
And I thought it was common knowledge around these parts that I lost my marbles a long time ago.


View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 3347 days

#8 posted 04-28-2013 04:51 AM

William awsome build ,know why you raised your drill press now ,enjoyed the build thanks for sharing

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View hoss12992's profile


4171 posts in 2626 days

#9 posted 04-28-2013 05:12 AM

Great job

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View hunter71's profile


3521 posts in 3920 days

#10 posted 04-28-2013 08:32 AM

I think these are so cool.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View Randall Sly's profile

Randall Sly

48 posts in 2613 days

#11 posted 04-28-2013 09:37 AM

Wow, nice job

-- I could retire nicely if I could sell my experience for what it cost me.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3590 days

#12 posted 04-28-2013 09:57 AM

William seeing the final product is wonderful as is your
blog on the build. It has helped explain some of the finer
I’m sure the boys will have great fun with it :)

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2740 days

#13 posted 04-28-2013 10:50 AM

Watching these machines is mesmerizing! If I had little kids, they’d never get to play with it!

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 4067 days

#14 posted 04-28-2013 11:21 AM

Great blog, great result!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View JL7's profile


8771 posts in 3698 days

#15 posted 04-28-2013 12:07 PM

This is quite the project…....and you nailed it…...

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

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