Woodworking in the great white north.

Marble Tower – finished!

Yes, it is finally done.

Before I get to the finished product, I did have a few things to touch up before I even got to the finishing stage.

Final touches:

– the loading mechanism at the top needed some fine tuning and I decided to cut out most of the plywood in the supporting structure for it…it looked strange to me having a big piece of solid material right at the top.

– in a few places I needed to embellish the rails with bumpers to keep the marbles from making a premature escape from their noisy adventure.

– several screw holes needed to be plugged and cleaned up.

Once these steps were done, I had a whole lot of finicky sanding to do.  A good lesson on something like this is to prefinish all that you can.  The first 3 or 4 coats of varnish were wiped on (regular varnish thinned down with mineral spirits and applied with an old cotton sock), followed by a final coat sprayed on (spray can…not HVLP… 😦 ).

I left the finish to cure for a couple of days and buffed it out with a ‘000’ scotchbrite pad (couldn’t find any ‘0000’).  The handful of moving parts also got a light coat of paste wax to keep them from sticking.

…..and…(drum roll)…ta da!


There’s nothing quite as satisfying as completing a project.  When it’s something you can actually just go ahead and use right away, it’s even better.  But when it makes lots of noise, then it’s just awesome!

I’ve got three videos for you:

Video 1:  A tour of the tower.

Video 2:  The full effect (and my ugly mug to boot).  I’m also playing with actually editing video (which I can see is going to suck up lots of time if I start doing more videos)

Video 3:  A few close-up shots of the various parts in action.

This entire process had its ups and downs and suffered from some serious procrastination, but it was fun and I learned a lot from the process.  I was able to try out a couple of new techniques and now have a fun toy and interesting conversation piece.

Hmmm..so, what’s next???


5 responses

  1. Too…dang…cool! Nice work! So how much does this annoy your family?

    September 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    • Thanks.
      Daughter – loves it.
      Wife – trying to.

      September 26, 2010 at 7:08 am

  2. Mike Patriquin

    Very cool – I’m building a marble run for my daughter, and have a similar set of xylophone “steps”. What did you use under the metal bars? I’ve looked at flat rubber washers but they seem to dull the sound.

    December 19, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    • I tried a few things, most of which gave a dull sound. The best I could come up with was to use some hard plastic washers. I think I had them lying around from an old meccano set or something like that.

      They don’t ‘ring’ for very long, but the sound isn’t dampened too much either.

      You could probably pick up some plastic washers at the borg and they’d work out fine. I think you want a relatively small surface to surface contact in order to limit the dampening effect.

      December 20, 2010 at 11:51 am

  3. Super project! Loves it.

    July 14, 2014 at 5:04 pm

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