Marble Race

01 Marble Race 037

Finally it is finished. After a broken arm, a severed thumb, and a lot designing and troubleshooting the Marble Race Masterpiece is finally finished. At first this did not seem all that complicated to build. We came up with the types of tracks we wanted and simply started making them separately. Once we had two or three of the levels finished that was when things started to get complicated. We had to figure out a way to stack them all together. We picked an order, then had to change it around. We also continued to add to new tracks to the Marble Race until we had seven total levels.

At first we wanted to see if we could avoid gluing each level in place, you know, to make it easy to disassemble and ship if necessary. Sadly this brilliant plan was not meant to be. The four posts for the tower began to twist and warp because the tension was so high. In turn, this caused some of the tracks to slip out of alignment and marbles would fall off and fall out in all the wrong places. So, in the end, we bit the bullet and glued it all together. We coated it with a polyurethane protector. We even added a base (not pictured) to catch all the marbles when the race was over. It is stunning, and really really fun.

Our little boy loves to run marbles on this track. He has to stand on his tip-toes to even reach the start switch, and he cant see the first two levels just yet, because he is such a shorty, but once it hits eye level he smiles and follows the marbles running down, down, down. He always tries to catch the marbles in the plinko section before they drop down to the next level. It is pretty fun to watch him get so animated and excited with his fists full of colored marbles.

Here are the tracks in order:

1. start switch and two straight tracks

2. zig zag

3. helix

4. two straight tracks into bowl funnels

5. plinko

6. switch plate

7. half pipe

Top 5 : Tools in the Garage

Starting a garage workshop has taken a lot of time, quite a lot of money, and needless to say, a number of tools. Over time I have quickly come to see what tools work well for my needs. I love to work on a variety of projects, everything from heavy duty furniture to small detailed puzzles. As such, there are certain tools I just could not live without. These are just my top 5 tools I have in my little workshop.
Ryobi 15-Amp 10 in. Table Saw
My table saw is a love hate relationship. I hate how dangerous this thing is, but I love how useful it can be. Really the best thing about it is I can rip wide boards in half. I buy the cheaper value lumber and get twice the product. Boom! Also, I love how simple it is to use. Before I got a table saw I thought I really didn’t need it, but now that I’ve lived on the other side, I can’t seem to figure out how to do things without it any more. In my dream world I will one day be able to afford a “Saw Stop” table saw. I’ve just seen too many people with missing fingers to not fear the power of this tool.
DW718
This is the saw that I use the absolute most, without any question. Even though this one took a part of me with it when I sliced my thumb, I will still love the infinite uses this saw provides. I bought this saw back when we were building our backyard awning, wow over 5 years ago, and have used it on virtually every project since. I hope to upgrade to a larger one some day, but will never get rid of the one I have now unless it completely breaks.
PORTER-CABLE 8-Amp 12-Speed Drill Press
My Drill press has been one of the best tools in my shop for many reasons. First, I can make perfectly straight holes in my projects with this tool. Second, I can install a drum style sander in the chuck and use it as a sander for curved and small pieces. Third, I found that I was able to use it to polish the brass rods for the clock projects I have made. The drill press seems like such a simple tool, but it has been worth its weight in gold, so a special thanks to my wife for gifting this to me for xmas.
Ryobi 32 in.x 16 in.Universal Router Table
4. Router and Router
I have two of theses in my shop and it still isn’t enough. An old woodworking friend of mine once said that you could tell the quality of a woodworker simply by finding out how many router’s he owned. Its the truth. This tool was used to make the tracks for my marble runs, decorative edging on the entertainment center, rounded corners on the dresser, and the handles on the bed drawers. There are so many different uses to a router and so many different router bits that this is the ultimate tool and can easily become one of the most expensive when all is said and done. The router itself is not all that pricey (in comparison of other power tools) but after you get the router bits and a router table if you want one, the cost starts to add up fast. However, this is another dangerous tool that can easily grab the wood and cause some major damage to the project or the person so I am extra cautious when using it.
DELTA 1.3-Amp Variable Speed Scroll Saw
This has to be my favorite tool that I own, not because its the most useful (because its not), but because it is the most fun. With this tool I can make all the small intricate cuts in wood. With my scroll saw I’ve made animal puzzles, jewelry, clock gears (in fact build an entire clock with this tool alone), helix marble run, and so much more I can’t even remember all the things I’ve built with this guy. I also like that it is so easy to use and there is only a small risk of injury and no chance of loosing a limb.  I can’t wait to explore all the other ways to use this tool.