Self Contained Interchangeable Marble Maze




Introduction: Self Contained Interchangeable Marble Maze

About: Hello Everyone! I am a GrandParent that loves to build “things” and I am also an engineer!

My grandson is coming for Christmas! He is 3 1/2 years old!
Last time we talked he asked me to make him a “Marble Maze” just like he saw one on a video...

As I love to “built things” I gladly picked up the challenge of building his marble maze! But...

At home we have a Labrador named Zoe and my dear wife told me to go ahead with the maze BUT IT HAD TO BE SELF CONTAINED. Not one chance of having loose marbles at home as we could slide over them or even worst, Zoe could swallow one as she has never been around marbles. So I started thinking about the design and checking some designs on YouTube.

I figured out I needed one level to collect/store the marble with a lifting mechanism that raises the marble to the second level that has the maze, and that was the start of this wonderful building adventure of an “interactive” toy for my grandson.

Step 1: Materials

The material I used was recycled cardboard from used boxes I picked up at a local discount store. I just split them open.

Step 2: Tools

The tools are pretty simple:
- Hobby Knife
- Metal ruler
- Triangle (for right angle)
- Glue gun
- Crazy Glue
- Transparency material (acetate cellulose) sheet
- Popsicle sticks
- Wood dowel

Step 3: Lower Level - Marble Storing

I decided to go with a square shape of 7 1/2” per side.

Cut a square of the desired size

Bottom sides
Measure your marble diameter and add about 1/8” for clearance. Add the cardboard thickness and then at least another 1/2” to for a lip that will hold the top level. Cut the sides to the desired length and glue them into place. I used hot glue but later I found out that crazy glue works better.

Top level support
Glue all around the inner side of your lower Level a strip of cardboard with your marble diameter plus 1/8” height
Reinforce the corners with an extra layer. This will give your top level a firm base.

Step 4: Lower Level - Lifting Mechanism

I made a rotating mechanism similar “water wheel” out of popsicles. Once it is rotated, it will lift the marble to the top level.

Building the rotor:
- Cut the tips of the popsicles about the same diameter of your marble plus 1/8”
- Glue several tips together with crazy glue to get the same thickness as the cardboard you are using (in my case, I needed the thickness of 2 popsicles)
- Glue the rotor parts tangent to the wood dowel you are using. To make it “extra strong” I poured Calcium Carbonate Powder on the crazy glue before ir set and the result is an extremely strong assembly that can even be filed as needed.

Building the rotor stand
- Locate the position of the axle so it will rotate freely (estimate 1/16 bottom clearance and try the horizontal clearance so the rotor blade can pickup the marble easily. To do so, it must make contact with the marble at an angle. If it makes contact at 90 degrees, it will not rotate.
- Make a hole for the rotor axle. I used the reamer punch of my Victorinox pocket knife
- Cut a pice of cardboard that will support the axle and goes all the way to the top of the top level. Glue it into place
- Cut a piece of cardboard that will box the rotor, glue it into place
- Cut and glue cardboard pieces around the “rotor compartment” to support your top level
- Trace and cut 2 circular pieces to make a knob so you can rotate the lifting mechanism. Glue them in place on the outer part of the rotor
- Cut out the axle to the desired length

Your bottom level is DONE!

1. I had to glue a small piece of wood to hold the axle in position
2. I had to glue a small piece of cardboard to raise the marble so the rotor picks it up much more esasier
3. I first glued a small piece of wood to the outer part of the rotor axle and then the knob to have a much stronger bond
4. I used crazy glue to reinforce the holes for the axle

Step 5: Upper Level

The upper level must just slide into position and should be able to be removed easily so yo can prepare several Mamés of encreasing difficulty to make it even a better challenge!

- Cut the bottom of the upper level according to the inside of your bottom level
- Cut out the corresponde space for the rotor compartment. Leave a small lip so the marble slide from the rotor blade into the top level easily (on my first try, I had to glue this lip as an additional piece)
- Cut the sides of your top level to the desired height so it will protrude over the lip of the lower level so it can easily be picked up
- At the end of the maze, cut out a circle so once the maze is completed, the marble falls into the bottom for storage and to be lifted agai for a new game.

Step 6: Additional Maze

Repeat the Top Level procedure to make as many different mazes you want!
This time I did a circular maze


Your Self Contained Maze is finished!
Now just insert the maze into place, lift the marble and play!

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    3 years ago

    How did you get two instructables in the same contest? I can't do it.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I have no idea!!! it was not my itnention.
    Fortunately, one of the contest rejected my instructable... but I do not know in what contest I am participating


    3 years ago

    Nice cost effective project


    Reply 3 years ago

    Many thanks!
    Effectively, the most expensive part of the project were the marbles!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Many thanks! I appreciate your comment.