Woodworking in the great white north.

Marble Tower – makin’ music

After riding the rails around the tower, the marbles get to make some music.

After falling out of the rails the marbles will tumble down a xylophone staircase.  This consists of a base which fits between two opposing uprights, a pair of stair supports that the xylophone keys are attached to and some dowels to keep the marbles corralled along the keys before guiding the marbles through a hole to drop into the next section.

This looked simple enough to build, but once again I found reference in the plans to double check my measurements as my tower may not be exactly the same size at the same height as the one in the plans.  They were right and this was my first inkling that I was deviating from the plans (see the previous post where I talk about the mistakes made in the previous step).

Originally I thought I’d like to liven things up and paint the keys in bright colours to improve the appearance.  I lightly sanded, primed and enamel painted the keys.  They looked ok, but once I started running marbles across them, the paint began to show signs of distress.  Eventually I got a paint chip come off one key and decided to strip them back down the bare metal and polish them up a bit.

The keys came with a small hardware kit that Lee Valley carried, consisting of the xylophone keys and a bell (which gets used later).  The one flaw I have with the hardware kit was a lack of consideration for how the hardware was going to be attached.  The xylophone keys need a spacer that will not dampen the ring of the key too much, I made some out of some hard plastic tubing and attached the keys with some nice shiny screws used in the auto industry to attach car interiors.

Rails and xylophone video

Xylophone video from a different perspective.

The next step was to be a spiral track made from thin plywood strips cut in a spiral and glued to a cross-member to act a bit like a funnel.  Being interested in turning as well, I reached another point of delay while I debated whether or not to do as the plans called for, or try and turn a proper funnel.


2 responses

  1. What a cool project. I guess I have another to add to my to-do list for my kids. Let’s see if I can get it done before their weddings. Nicely done.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:30 pm

  2. Thanks Dyami,

    I’m guessing you score big ‘spouse’ points if you get it done while they’ll still enjoy using it.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:44 am

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