This is a tabletop pinball machine made from all scrap wood and bits and pieces of things I've held onto just waiting for a project like this.

The ball is from an old computer mouse, with the rubber coating removed (you could use a marble as well). A crafty person should never throw perfectly good stuff in the trash. Just hang onto it, and eventually you'll find a new use for it down the road!

With some parental help, this can be a kid-friendly project. Building a solid table with a functioning paddle assembly requires some basic woodworking skills, and may be fairly difficult without proper guidance and appropriate tools. But once the paddle assemblies are in place, just about anyone can build ramps and jumps or anything else they can imagine for the upper part of the table. To me that's where the real fun lies--creating various obstacles and then seeing a ball bounce around all over and through them, somewhat under your power.

This is a great project for parents and kids to take on together!

Please check out the video at the end of the instructable to see it in action.

Step 1: Table top

Picture of Table top
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table 1a.jpg
table 2.jpg
table 1.jpg
I have included measurements where I can. Most of this was made through trial and error, with lots of adjustments to make things work the way I wanted. If you plan to make one, depending on the materials you use, you may need to do a bit of measuring and tinkering to work out some of the details on your own.

This should be a helpful guide though, to show you how it can be done.

The table top is a piece of melamine which used to be part of a large router table top. It had numerous screw holes in it that I filled with putty. The dimensions are 36" by 20", not including the sides. The sides are 3/4" plywood that was ripped into 2 1/2-inch wide pieces.

The sides are attached to the piece of melamine with screws. To get a precise fit, it is very useful to use clamps to position the sides to the melamine, and then drill pilot holes into which you drive your screws.

A piece of two by four was screwed to the back to give the table its tilt.

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Jack Moran1 year ago

That is awesome!

DIYDougS1 year ago

Great job! I love the plinko part!

Tobihedi1 year ago

I tried it it is awesome but the first 2times I did it I faild

How did you add the ball launcher?
Re-design2 years ago
Very nice!
I made it. just needs paint and graphics! The theme is horse racing and I am making it for my cousin who loves horses. There is a part where the ball gets trapped which I am calling THE STALLS
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noob0063 years ago
is there still computer mouse with ball for sale? at a junkshop? at a second hand computer component store? a store of computer component?
seamster (author)  noob0063 years ago
I see them occasionally at the thrift stores I go to. There are some still out there.
Aron3133 years ago
I always wanted to make something like this!!
toysfortots3 years ago
Yeah it has four ramps, each one is a different point total. Highest points is the left eye of the skull. Everything is wood.
toysfortots3 years ago
Checkout this years pinball game!!!!!
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seamster (author)  toysfortots3 years ago
Holy cow, that looks awesome! I especially like the scoring trays. Very nice.
bwallen13 years ago
I am working on a machine design myself. I have several scoring holes worked into the design that lead to a completely hidden underlevel. It is inclined and has an "onramp" at the bottom that randomly puts the ball back into play behind either flipper.
toysfortots3 years ago
Hey great ideas!!!! I started my crew on new pinball games again this year so it looks like they will be as great as the pirate game from last year!!! Thanks again for the ideas!!!
I made one but I keep just adding and adding to it. Did you come up with the flipper mechanism?
seamster (author)  bobthebuilder7283 years ago
Yep. I just kind of tinkered around till I figured out something that worked.

So you made one? Want to share a photo? I'd love to see it!
tinker2344 years ago
wow hey could i add the bumber that lache the ball on contact i have a pinball machine alerday but yours is amazing
Graffix10g6 years ago
oh hey! put some holes in the floor that the ball can fall into! :D
seamster (author)  Graffix10g6 years ago
I considered that, but where do they go? Hmm... if I had some ramps up to a platform (or a "second floor" of sorts), the ball could fall through various holes in that and still be in play... I think we're on to something here!
I'm thinking a kind of trap door up the very back that goes to a second floor with less of an incline, but still one. Then the ramp goes to another trap door, coming up.


\      = ramp
-     = trapdoor / second ramp
[]     = bumpers and stuff down the bottom
you could possibly use glass to see in the bottom with extra bumpers on the bottom floor.
When I say ramp I should actually be saying playing surface.
yeah! make it so the button makes to flippers move! naa but really i was thinking of trap holes so when it goes in, you lose. like there is a floor underneath and it falls to the bottom.
Foaly7 seamster6 years ago
I'd totally do that. Maybe a clear-plastic floor on each level, and dowels joining the many paddles together.
tinker2344 years ago
wow i have a commercial pinnable machine but yours looks funner and i dont have to go get a quater evry time i want to play
grimshade4 years ago
Do you know the ideal incline? The difference between the "Feet" on your design?
Appollo644 years ago
How did you make the bumpers? Great instructable!
I am using ply wood w/ sheet metal on top for my board, and great job man, this is really cool.
could you use plain old wood for the table top?
plain wood might not be smooth enough, but you could put contact paper or something over it to make it smooth
webwes4 years ago
your pinball machine rocks. I'm building one soon.
seamster (author)  webwes4 years ago
Sweet! When you get done, be sure to post a couple of pictures here. Or better, yet, take photos along the way, and do a full instructable. Good luck!
webwes seamster4 years ago
i'm sad.i don't have enough cash.
toysfortots4 years ago
Thanks for the ideas!!!!
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seamster (author)  toysfortots4 years ago
Are you kidding me?! That is AWESOME!

Tell me you took photos throughout the build, please. You've got to put together an instructable, or at least a slide show with lots of detailed photos. This thing looks incredible.

I love the theme, and I'm dying to see a video of it in action!
Thanks it really is wild looking!!!!! Everything is made of wood except for the rubberbands we used. Wood carvings, air brushed back it was truely and adventure to build. As I said in an earlier post a TV news station came and did a video on the project. But no I do not have any video or photos of the steps. Under the situation these guys are in everything has to be approved. All I can share is the photos and video from the TV station.
seamster (author)  toysfortots4 years ago
Well, it's inspiring nonetheless! I appreciate the response, and taking your time to post the photos.

It makes me realize what a neat website this is whenever someone posts a photo of something they made that I helped inspire. This totally made my day!
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