How to Build a Marble Machine
Marble Machines are Fun
There is something about building a Marble Machine that makes me feel like I could control the world. I have not built one yet, but I want to. Until then I will have to settle for the work of some of these Marble Machine Masters. They have great ideas and amazing wood working skills.
You can tell these guys have the skill to shape wood and wire into a fine oiled machine. They take their knowledge and build something that is artistic. They inspire me to build one of my own. I just think I should use coins rather than marbles. We will see. Enjoy the videos.
The Ball Lifter — You Must Defy Gravity First
There are endless ways to lift a ball high enough to get your marble machine running. If you can get it to the top, gravity will do the rest. Take a look at these awesome videos to get a few great ideas for lifting the balls of your own marble machine.
Take a sheet of paper and draw out some ideas. Think about how you can design your own lifters and get your own ball rolling. The nice thing is that you can use scrap wood and scrap wire and just about anything you can find around your house. If you can find it, you can make your first marble machine for nearly no cost toy you at all. All you have to do is be a little creative.
Shaping the Wire Tracks — You Will Need a Way For the Ball Barrings to Roll
You can make tracks out of copper wire. For one, they are easy to shape and easy to solder together. Another reason to use copper wire is because it is so much easier than trying to dig out channels in your pieces of wood. It is a lot of work and can require machines you can't afford at the moment. I know I can't afford them. I believe you can use other types of wire, but I like the color and flexibility of copper.
I like the wire tracks because you can see the metal balls better. The machine looks more like a machine when you can see the metal on metal action. My problem at this moment is finding that beautiful copper wire he is working with.
Get Your Own Marbles — They Are Cheap and Easy to Find.
I like to get my marbles from the dollar store. When I can find cheap marbles, that is when I buy them. I buy them for several different reasons. I use them on marble machines for one. I use them in the Boy Scout Den I lead. They love to play marbles when it is cold outside. If I find rare marbles, I will add them to my collection.
Marbles come in all kinds of colors and usually, they are cheap. Most of the time they come in small drawstring bags. Sometimes they are just in plastic bags and you have to find a way to store them after you buy them.
Finished Machines — Some Amazing Works of Enginering
If you sit down and take some time, you can also build machines like the ones below. All you have to do is practice. It takes a little trial and error to get some of these ideas working right, but that is half the fun of making these machines.
Let's talk about some of the materials you will need. Most of them you can salvage from junk you are about to throw out.
Motors — You'll be surprised where you can find motors that will work for this project. I found some from old portable cassette players. I bet you could use the motor from a CD player as well. There are plenty of them out there that don't have functioning readers. All you need is the motor.
Scrap Wood — You can use just about any wood. You can even buy the wood from your local hardware store. That is not necessary, though. There are plenty of places that you can get your scrap wood. A lot of times you can go to those same hardware stores and ask for the tiny scraps that are left behind when customers have their plywood cut to specific sizes. The stores will usually give those to you. You can pick wood out of dumpsters from construction sites. Make sure you ask permission first. I would hate for you to go to jail for trespassing.
A Number of the Videos on this Page are from the Denha Youtube Channel. Please visit the link and support him so he will continue to make these grand Marble Machines.
Other Fun Marble Machines — Woodworkers Make the Coolest Machines
There are a lot of people out there who are building their own marble machines. Most of them are not even working from any kind of plans. They build these machines with only an idea in their minds. They wing it, just wanting to see the ball move from one point to another.
Sometimes these machines become something unexpected. They seem to take on a life of their own.
Ronald Walter's Marble Machine
Super Awesome Clockwork Gears
The centerpiece for this marble machine are the gears. They lift dozens of marbles at a time and send them down an amazing track of twists and turns.
At first glance, I thought this creation was some sort of wooden gear clock. The only thing that gave it away was the fact there were no hands on the face, not to mention it was missing numbers.
If you go to the project site (click on the image) you will find an array of chutes and barrels and other things for the balls to do on their way down. I can't tell if he had plans for this one or not.
It inspires me to think about designing a clock that has a marble run aspect. What if the machine can tell time while lifting ball bearings up to a point where they can run down a series of tracks. I think that would be so cool.
I have seen some marble machines that are built to tell the time. Each ball signified a different number so the viewer can tall the time. From what I can tell from the video, it runs smoothly.
I counted the Ball Bearings in the gears. This machine moves 47 at one time. It makes me wonder how often it gets jammed.
Popcicle Stick Marble Machine
A Lot of Work and a Lot of Fun
If you ever find yourself in Abita Springs near New Orleans, you should visit the Abita Mystery House. They have a marble machine made out of Popsicle sticks. I can't imagine what it took to figure out how to get it to work properly.
I can picture tons of dripping glue drying from the edges of all the Popsicle sticks. I can see kids laughing and having so much fun building something like this. Heck. I can see me having so much fun building this.
This model is an attraction for the museum. People want to see how this thing works when they first see it. It looks like a mess. It looks like there was no way it could actually work but it does.
I have seen other people make these Popsicle machines, but I have never seen one on public display. I would worry too much about someone tearing it up or breaking it in some way. I guess if it is securely glues, there would be nothing to worry about.
How to Collect Marbles — There are Many Books About Collecting Marbles
The first thing you have to do if you want to collect marbles is to educate yourself about them and what makes them valuable. The best way I know to do this is to attend collectors shows. If you can't find those near you, then your next best option would be to invest in a book or two.