Introduction: How to Make a Bagatelle Board

About: I'm an engineer and a dad who has a love for designing and making toys, STEM projects and anything electronicy.

One of my favourite toys from visiting my gran when I was young was her bagatelle board. It was always my go-to toy! Especially as there were so many ball traps and bumpers to bounce off.

Check out the video guide below and the step by step instructions here.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Grab What You Need!

For this project, you'll need these tools and materials:


  • A piece of 3mm plywood to use as a backboard (I cut mine to 30cm x 60cm, but you can buy pre-cut MDF boards from TTS/Consortium in bulk)
  • Around 3m of 1cmx1cm square dowel (also available in bulk from TTC/Consortium)
  • 4 flat profile thumb tacks
  • 4cm round wood dowel (3-4mm works well)


  • Junior hacksaw
  • Bench hook
  • G-clamp
  • Goggles
  • Hot glue gun (or PVA glue)
  • Ruler and pencil
  • Compass or piece of card/string for measuring the curve

Step 2: Draw the Curve at the Top of the Ramp

Use your ruler to measure in from the top half the width of your board (in my case, half of 30cm, so 15cm).

Measure the sam in from the sides, so you have a mark 15cm from the top and 15cm from the sides.

Now, press the spike of your compass on the mark (or press a pin through a part of your piece of card) and line up your pencil with the edge of the board.

Gently rotate the compass/piece of card around in a circle until your have a curve which touches the top of the board and both sides.

Step 3: Draw the Sides and Plunger Parts Onto the Board

Next, use a long piece of the square dowel to draw a line from the base of the board to where the curve ends at the top.

If you use the square dowel and draw around it, you'll know exactly how much space the piece will take up.

From the bottom of the board, measure in 3cm from the bottom-right and measure a piece of square dowel up the board so it stops in line with where the curve ends. (see picture!)

For the plunger, measure two 8cm pieces on either side of the 3cm gap you left.

Draw off the edges at 45 degrees so the pieces point inwards.

Step 4: Draw the Traps and Bumpers Onto the Board

Now, using the piece of wooden dowel and a ruler, mark out where you want your ball traps to go.

Think about how wide you want gaps to be entering your trap and whether you want to add a little guide rail to bring the marbles in.

Also, consider where you might want to put bumpers to guide the marbles back into the centre of the board.

Once you've marked out your ball traps, make a note of how many pieces of each size you've measured.

Don't forget to count the 2cm pieces around the curve at the top!

Step 5: Measure, Mark and Cut Your Wood

Next up, measure and mark the pieces you need on the wood lengths.

Use your saw to cut the wood and you're ready to go for the next step!

Step 6: Glue the Sides and Plunger Pieces

First up, glue the right side in place and the plunger side pieces (8cm, 45 degree cut pieces).

If you place the 12cm plunger piece between the plunger side pieces, move the side pieces until the 12cm piece moves smoothly up and down.

Next up, glue the plunger left-side long piece in place and glue the base and long left-side pieces in place.

Step 7: Build Up Your Curve

Now, take your collection of 2cm pieces and begin to glue them in place on the line.

As you glue the pieces in place, make sure the inner edge of each piece touches tip to tip (see photo).

When you get to the end of the curve, you may need to measure a piece to fit the remaining space.

Step 8: Glue the Traps Pieces and Bumpers in Place

Now, as you drew around where your trap pieces were going to go, you should just be able to glue each trap and bumper piece in place!

If you want to encourage marbles to bounce back in from the sides, glue your bumper pieces at 45 degrees to the edge.

Step 9: Making the Plunger Assembly

Next up, drill a hole (just large enough for the dowel to fit through snugly) around 2cm from the end of the 12cm plunger piece of square dowel. Wiggle the 4cm piece of round dowel through the hole.

After that, press two thumb tacks (half-way in) around 1cm up from the base of the plunger sides.

Hook each rubber band around a thumb tack (doubling up the rubber band for a stronger pull) and push the pins in all the way.

Placing the 12cm plunger in place, hook the rubber bands over the 4cm piece of dowel and under the board, securing them in place with a thumb tack pushed up from underneath.

Give the plunger a test pull and it should spring back into place with around 1cm of plunger pushing above the 45 degree cut of the plunger sides at the top.

One last thing you can do is to cut a piece of card big enough to cover the plunger assembly and glue it down on top. This helps the plunger to fire straight and not buck up.

Step 10: Time to Test That Board Out!

Congratulations! You've completed your first bagatelle board and it's time to test it out!

Ideas for finishing the board could include:

  • Draw scores onto each ball trap
  • Add an extra guide rail at the bottom (the width of the marble up from the base) for spare marbles to be held
  • Twist a small rubber band around bumpers to add more of a bounce

Thanks very much for checking our my instructable and let me know if you give it a go!

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