Introduction: Simple Wooden Marbel Towers


Beings this is my very first Instructable, you might have to skip over some of the "rooky" mistakes! But here we go! So these are a simple wooden marble tower that anyone can build "with a little bit of time and a few kind words!" they look complicated but really there is very little measuring so just try to follow along and we'll take you for the ride! Here I will take you through the build of the smallest tower that I built and give you the info that you need to build a tower for the big (1 inch) shooter marbles and then also a tower for golf balls, yup that's right, the bigger the better, more entertainment and a deeper sound!


eastern red cedar

poplar lumber

bastitch pin nailer

table saw

miter saw

wood glue

Step 1: Getting Started

OK so the first thing you should do is build you jigs like both of these drawing out of 3/4" plywood or something similar. Then cut a 4 pieces of Cedar 14 1/2 inches long by roughly 4 1/2 wide and run each one through the table saw using jig number one. Set your saw so that you end up with your piece being 4" at the wide end when finished cutting. Then flip two of those pieces end for end and run them though again using jig number 2. Set your saw so you end up with 2" now on the narrow end. Then reset your saw and cut the other two pieces so you end up with 1/2" on the narrow end. These two will go inside of you other two so that your tower stays square. (I'm amusing that you are using 3/4" thick cedar) Now then you can nail those 4 together to make your tower!

Step 2: Marking for the Track

Next you need to build you one of these fancy little tools! Rip a small piece of plywood roughly 2" wide by approximately 6" long. Then set your chop saw on a 3-degree angle and cut the one end so you can add a small block of wood on the end there to match that angle. (I like to use a fast drying glue here like super glue or hot glue to glue this block on) Now your ready to start marking! OK like I said there isn't much measuring on this tower so here is where that starts:) So as far as I can tell there is no way to measure for the lay out of the track so use this little tool that you just built to mark where the track will go. Start at the top of the tower and make a small mark on the corner closest to you. Then roll the tower a 1/4 of a turn and do the same, again, now again, and again, and again all the way till you get to the bottom. Now is when you need to make the cut out for the liitle drawer and the hole on top and bottom for the mabbles to come out and go into. This might get complicated to exsplain but I'll try to exsplain as plainly as possible! Hook your tape masure on the bottom and come up 2" and find where the track will come just above the cut out for the drawer as the picture showes. Square up from the bottem on each side and cut this square out. now rotate the tower back a 1/4 of a turn so you can drill the hole above the edge of the drawer for the mables to fall into. Now we need to go make the track and then we will come back to this step!

Step 3: Ripping the Track

I couldn't get any good pictures of how to cut these tracks so I drew them out for you. I like to cut my boards about 5ft long or so, so I can handle them better and get those angles accurate. It takes about 5 or 6 of these tracks to do a tower (didn't keep close track of that). I think the drawing and picture says more then i can explain so go ahead and rip that track out and we'll move on (or back) to drilling those holes. . . next step

Step 4: Drilling Holes Top and Bottom

OK now that you got your track made, cut a short piece maybe 6" long just to have handy to make a few necessary marks here and there. Take this short piece and use it to make a mark the full length of that side (going back to the step that we talked about earlier). Then find the center of the on that mark and drill a 7/8" hole there. Refer to the drawing. NOTE the track will end up covering part of the hole so the marble falls smoothly into the drawer box (later step).

Now go to the top of the tower and use your short piece of track and find the side where you can drill a 7/8" hole below the cap (build and install later) and above the track. Make sure that this hole will be fully above the track so the marble falls nicely onto the track. Start drilling this hole straight into the side but then as you get in a bit start angling your bit so it ends up coming out in the center of the tower on the very top. That way when we drill the hole in the top cap, its hole and this hole will intersect! Now that we have those drilled and the drawer box hole cut, we can get started on the track!

Step 5: Cutting and Installing the Track

Cutting the track: Your first cut will be a 22.5 degree angle and 2 degree bevel and this will get you started at the bottom hole. Now set your miter saw on a 45 degree angle and a 2 degree bevel. Refer to the pictures here. If you set it up like the pictures, then you can just leave it set like this for every cut. Hold the piece you just cut on the 22.5 degree so that it comes across just below the bottom hole like the picture shows and across to the little mark that you made with you "fancy little tool", but be sure and leave room for a little stopper block there. You can add this block now or anytime. Just let your track hang long so you can mark it on the back of the leading edge. Take that to your saw and cut this piece. Put a small line of glue on the edge that will against the tower and nail it on using your pin nailer! Now take your long piece that you left on your saw and flip it over and cut it upside down so you end up with your next 45 angle. (picture was taken before I made the cut) Back to the tower with this piece, hold this end (trailing end) so it matches up with the leading end of the piece already on the tower and ajust it so it comes across your mark on the tower and mark the back side of your track just like you did on the first piece. Back to the saw, make that cut, back to the tower and nail it on and so it goes all the way up untill you reach the top! When you get to the top, run the track just under neath the top hole and cut it on a 22.5 degree, put a little stopper block up there also just like we treated the bottom.

Couple of notes here: remember the glue will hold more then the nails here so just a few pins on the 45 degree corners and through the tower into the leading edge

The 45's will have a small step on the inside so it helps the marbles keep moving if you shave a bit of that step off

Step 6: Cutting the Top and Bottom

Top and bottom: for the top, rip a piece 5" by 5" and set it to the side. For the bottom you will need to glue a couple pieces together so you can rip a piece 7" by 7". Mark the center of these two pieces and screw them, with one screw, through the center to a scrap piece of wood. This lets you safely run these through the table saw. So go ahead and set your table saw blade on a 70 degree again and set your fence so when you are done, the flat part on top ends up 2" on the top piece and 4" on the bottom. The bottom can be installed now. Center the bottom on the bottom of the tower. Pre-drill through the bottom into the tower and screw it on but be easy here so you don't split the bottom or your tower! Now it works best to attach the square block to the top piece before you mount it to the top of your tower so lets work on that now! The top block is a couple of pieces glued together so you can end up with a 2" square block then glue and screw it to the center of your 5" cap. Take this chunk and drill a 7/8" straight down through the center. We can mount this whole chunk to the top of the tower, be sure to line the hole up with the one in the top of the tower!


Step 7: Bottom Drawer

Now for the drawer: I just built this out of 1/4" plywood and used fast drying glue to hold it together. The only trick to this drawer is that you need to set your table saw on 86 degrees and trim the front of the drawer so when you put the little piece of cedar on the front of the drawer that it fits snug against the front of the tower. . . . . . . and now you are ready to spray a finish on it of your choice and give it away so you can have the fun of building a bigger one!! On to that step next!


Someone said they would like one a bit bigger so I decided to give it a shot! All I did was double the size of every thing except the track size. (Oh and I also made the very top so you can just dump the marbles in instead of putting them in one by on, That is something that I just had to work with and make as I went along) So that one ended up being roughly 30" tall. Then I thought 'wellllll it would be cool to have one that took the big shooter marbles (1"). That took a bit more figuring out but not much! Because I only added 14 1/2 more inches to the main tower of the small tower to come up with the other one, then I just add another 14 1/2" again and that was the size for the next tower. It stands roughly 48" tall. Every thing stays the same as far as all the angles and bevels.The only difference is the track, instead of the inside bottom being 5/8" (refer to the last drawing of the track) , it was 1" because that is the diameter of the marble. The sound on this one is amazing!! When I got that one done someone said I should do one for golf balls soooooo, yes we had to build it. . . I just added 14 1/2" to the main tower so it stands about 58" tall! Again every thing stays the same except the track. The inside bottom of it is 2" because a golf ball is 2" in diameter. So Ok have fun building and hope you enjoy these projects. . . . . . O no, some one suggested that I do one for bowling balls. . . . NOW WHAT???

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