Tool Project: marble run

Following on from last week’s post about what to have in your toolbox and a first project of making a bird table, today we are showing you another really simple, achievable woodworking project – making a marble run. It is a really easy starter project which can be adapted to different skill and attention levels. Furthermore, it looks great, is something that can be used, and when the marble runs along the nails it makes the most beautiful tinkling sound.

Older children will probably be able to do this with minimal support while for younger children you might want to work on it together with them taking the lead.

Materials needed: small plank of wood (e.g. any offcut you might have lying around), lots of nails, hammer, pencil and a marble. Optional: acrylic paints, drill and file.

  1. On a plank of wood, draw with a pencil where you would like the marble to run along. It can be any shape and as simple or complicated as you would like it to be – letters, numbers, a maze, an animal… Paint it with acrylic paint if you want it colourful.
  2. If you plan to add any holes for the marbles to fall out of (e.g. at the very end or to add a difficulty to it), add them now using an electric (with adult supervision) or hand drill. If you only have a small drill bit you can make the whole bigger using a round file.
  3. Hammer in the nails. Make sure they are wide enough apart for the marble to go through easily but also close enough together that it doesn’t accidentally fall out. Done!

Below are two examples – one made by my son when he was 11 for his granddad’s 70th birthday which he designed and made all by himself. The one on the right was completely initiated, designed and painted by my five year old; she hammered in a good amount of nails but I helped with the rest.

As always, we hope you enjoy this little project. Please do let us know how you get on – we would love to see your makes!

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