Introduction: A Portable Pachinko Using Office Pins

About: I'm Allen T. Well, I like to do all kinds of stuff, but first of all it has to be fun! Let us create more, and consume less.

This is a simple woodcraft project. Only takes about 1~2 days to make.
The design is inspired by Taiwanese Pachinkos & the mini-game 'Lucky Hit' from the game 'Shenmue'.

(Please excuse my limited choice of words in this Instructable)

Step 1: All the Things Needed

These are all (almost) the materials & tools I used to make the project:


  • 1 long slice of wood plank from an old bed (5~8mm thick)
  • 1x canvas frame (a2 size)
  • 60~70x Office pins (with plastic rectangular body)
  • Long pins (about 1 inch long)
  • Plastic board (for making "spinners". a4 size is enough)
  • High density foam board (3mm thick,a3 size)
  • 6~8 pieces of ice cream sticks (can be found in craft shops)
  • Some copper wires
  • 10~14x 1.5" thin metal nails


  • Mini hammer
  • Small/normal size hammer
  • Cloth for wrapping around the hammer’s head
  • Small plier for pulling out pins
  • General purpose paper glue
  • Superglue (I use UHU)
  • Scissors/cutter
  • Sandpaper (smoothen the wood surface)
  • Small saw
  • Hand file sander/ sanding machine (sanding out shapes)

And don't forget some glass marbles. (I use 15mm diameter)

Step 2: Saw Out Planks & Frames

  1. Decide the dimension of the board (the inner surface). Mine is about 3 planks wide and 15 inch tall. (6"x15")
  2. Saw out the planks into 3 pieces.
  3. In my own build, the frame has to be nailed from the sides of the board.
  4. Measure the lengths needed to be cut for all the frame corners.
  5. Double check before sawing out the corners.

Step 3: Bind the Planks, Nail the Frame, Glue the Foam Board

Bind the Planks

  • To make the 3 plank stick together, I superglued 4 pieces of extra planks on the back.

(simply glue on the side will never work for long)

Nail the Frame (optional)

  • Superglue the frame is good enough if you use light woods like me. I did both just to make a even sturdier build.
  • Be careful when nailing, keep the nails as straight as possible.

Glue the Foam Board

  • Prepare a foam board with the same dimension as the board inner surface. (cut it slightly narrow like 1~2mm short for easy insertion)
  • Use heavy-duty cutter instead of scissors to cut out the foam board.
  • Use paper glue to glue the foam board onto the flanks.

Step 4: Design the Game Platform & Insert the Pins

Designing Game Platform

  • I left 1.5" of space from the top, this is the area just for marble insertion.
  • At the very bottom, I left another 1.5" of space for goal slots.
  • On the center, I made it into 3 sections. The upper part is for usual marble tumbling through the pins. The middle ground is a gap with 2 spinners. The lower part continues to have pins but have larger distance between them.
  • When designing the pin positions, make sure all "passages/routes" between 2 nearest pins can be pass through by the marbles depending on their size.

Then try the game! Put in the pins temporarily for test-runs. Find pins that can stuck marbles, re-position them and affecting the runs, balance out the 'probabilities' of all the goal slots. When you're satisfied with the design & placings, you're ready to nail the pins.

Nailing the Pins

Use hands first. Pushing the pins into the board as deep as you can until you need to use mini hammer to finish the job. It's easy to break the pins when hammering, so here's some advice...

  • Wrap a cloth around the head of the mini-hammer when hammering.
  • Hit them lightly at first, then gradually adding force until you see the pins starting to go down.
  • Always hit the center not the sides at all times( or the top of the pin could break), keep the pins straight.
  • Put the entire board on the lap, it'll absorb excessive force while hammering.
  • Don't place it on hard surface while hammering.

If a pin is not straight or it's dis-positioned and can't be pulled out by hand, use pliers. "Grab" it fully through the top not the side. Hold the pliers lightly with just enough grip, slowly wiggle it and pull and it will come out.

Step 5: Making Spinners & Goal Slots


  1. Cut out 4 pieces from the plastic board. (about 2" x 0.6")
  2. Pencil out the "cut zones" from the center. (look at left pic)
  3. "Plug" them (cut zones) together to form a "windmill" shape.
  4. To make the spinners' pivot points, use a thick nail and penetrate the spinners from the center top through, create clean round "tunnels".
  5. Replace the nails to thin long pins.
  6. Coil up a tiny wire wrap underneath the spinners (through the pins). That's for lifting up the spinners a bit so they can spin loosely.
  7. Then, press it onto the board, press them in as deep as possible.
  8. Use mini hammer to nail it further until it fits.

Goal Slots

  1. Pencil & scissor out the shape of the "slot dividers" (about 1.2"/ 3cm long),6 of them.
  2. Prepare another 2 full-length ice cream sticks. (about 6" /15cm)
  3. On one of the full-length stick, mark out the 6 divisions evenly. (0.85"/2cm each)
  4. Superglue all slot dividers on the division marks. Also superglue another full-length stick from the bottom to increase the slots' sturdiness. (look at right pic)
  5. Wait for 5~10 to dry.
  6. Finally, use paper glue to glue the entire slots at the bottom of the board. (It's okay to use superglue to glue on wood, but for foam board, it's better to use paper glue.)

Step 6: Adding Kickstand + Short Video

Last step, is adding a kickstand for the board.

The kickstand’s height is about 2.8 inch (7cm) tall.

  1. I cut out 6 pieces from the remaining canvas frames and superglued them together.
  2. Let it dry for 10~20 minutes.
  3. Use a hand file sander to shape a 20 degree slope from the top of the kickstand. This might take a while, so be patient.
  4. After that, glue the kickstand on the 2nd supporting plank at the back. It makes the board slopes about 20 degrees from water level.
  5. Let it dry out for another 10~20 minutes.

Step 7: Done!

So this is my portable Pachinko build: simple & presentable, small enough to carry in one hand and will not take much space.

  • Dimension: 6.8″ x 16.1″ x 4″(by tallest)
  • Weight: about 1 pound / 450 gram

For more details of this project, You can read my blog post here.

(3/22) UPDATE: New Mini Pachinko Video!