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


Our First Giveaway! A Single Track Marble Run

marble run giveaway

The Workbench is hosting our first giveaway and one lucky reader will win a single track marble run. This wooden toy can make the perfect Christmas gift for that special little someone who is especially difficult to buy for. It is even more perfect if you happen to be looking for something unique, handcrafted, and with no assembly required or batteries for that matter. With this wooden marble run your little one can enjoy hours of pure, imaginative entertainment. We hope this simple gift from us can help simplify your Holiday shopping and make your Christmas all the more enjoyable.

To enter, simply follow The Workbench on any of the following sites and leave a comment for each entry opportunity.

  • Become a follower of The Workbench blog and leave a comment introducing yourself and telling us what you enjoy most about wooden toys. 
  • Like our page on Facebook, share this giveaway with your family and friends, then leave us a comment here to let us know.
  • Follow our feed on Instagram @theworkbench and re-gram this giveaway, making sure to mention #marblerungiveaway.
  • Check out our inspiration on Pinterest and follow our Xmas Gifts and Decor board. Again, leave us a comment here for an entry.

Terms for this giveaway:

This giveaway will run through December 14th and we will randomly select a winner and announce them on the blog Saturday, December 15th. Sadly we can only accept entries from residents in the continental United States at this time and we will ship the single track marble run as soon as we confirm the winner. The winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be randomly selected.

Best of luck and Happy Holidays!

Basic Wooden Marble Runs

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These simple back and forth marble runs are basic and straight forward. The marble races back and forth down each rung, as you probably would have guessed. The design for these marble drops may seem simple, but honestly these wooden toys can account for hours of fun and engaging playtime. No need for batteries either, which is always a nice bonus when it comes to toys for children.

These wooden marble runs make great gifts, especially with the holidays coming up so quickly. We know how difficult it is to find something for the people who seem to have everything. It is stressful and often results in the purchase of a gift card or certificate. Don’t cop out! If you want a unique, simple yet fun gift, the wooden marble run is certainly something to consider. For these types of wooden marble runs we have a design for a single track, double track, and triple track. That way, if you choose, you can play with more than one person and race against each other. They make great, natural toys for children to play with and are fun to give as presents.

Right now we have a handful of these wooden toys stored up for the Bijou Market happening this weekend. If we have any leftover from the event we will be adding them to our etsy page.

Materials: poplar

Dimensions: approx. L:18″ H:18″ W:6″

Animal Puzzles: Alligator, Frog, & Shark

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Here we have a group of wooden puzzles: an alligator, a frog, a shark, oh my! All of these items can be assembled laying flat, but can also stand freely. Additionally, because the way the pieces of these wooden animal puzzles interlock, they can be picked up and held in the upright position without falling apart. Probably the most difficult to assemble is the alligator, which is why we recommend this puzzle pack for children ages 5 and up. This is not easy for me to admit, but after sanding he alligator puzzle is the one that took me the longest to put back together because two of the pieces were flipped wrong-side up.The smallest pieces are about an inch long, so just be aware there is a chance of choking if your children try to eat their wooden puzzles. Otherwise these wooden puzzles, unpainted and unfinished, are completely natural and environmentally friendly. We know this set would probably appeal to boys more than girls, which is why we are hoping to get another wooden puzzle set up here geared more towards things girls would like too. Looking to buy? Click here.

Materials: alligator and shark are unfinished poplar; the frog is cypress

Dimensions: Alligator H=3″ L=11″ W=1/2″, Frog H=4″ L=7″ W=1/2″, Shark H=3 1/2″ L=8 1/2″ W=1/2″

Marble Race

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Here is an experimental prototype we, and by we I mostly mean my husband, have been developing. I helped in that when he hit a wall design wise I threw out completely useless ideas before he came up with the right answer. The man is risking his marbles with this four person wooden marble race, the assembly of which proved to be far more complicated than we had anticipated. Each column is a track for marbles to run down. The bowl at the base is the ultimate equalizer as the marbles battle in a melee for first place. The spout out the bottom spits each marble out one by one. This being the first attempt, our wooden marble race has proven to be a success. Now we are planning to perfect the design making the marbles run more smoothly and effectively. The races are really fun for all ages. Even our little boy has played, granted it was quite the task keeping him from trying to eat the marbles. This is likely because his father chose to race one of the new dark chocolate raspberry M&Ms and immediately ate it as soon as it spat out at the bottom. Baby sees all! But we did get a few successful runs with actual marbles out of him with a lot of help from his mommy. He liked the marble race well enough, but lost interest as soon as he saw a shoe he could try to eat. As for the two adults in the house, we have yet to lose our fascination.

Materials: poplar and plywood

Dimensions: H=24″ L=13″ W=13″

Dinosaur Puzzle

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What is better than a dinosaur puzzle? Not much. This thing is enamoring. I have already torn it all apart and put it back together about five times just today. I slide the little wooden dinos back and forth in their allotted slots on the base. I have the T-Rex eat the Longneck (yes i know, land before time!) while the Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Dimetrodon look on sympathetically. Probably would recommend this wooden dinosaur puzzle for children ages 5+, and by children I mean that loosely because adults can enjoy it just as much. We actually auctioned one of these babies off at a family carnival last year in exchange for the tickets they won at the games. On little nephew put in all, and I mean every last one, of his tickets. Needless to say he is now the proud owner and still shares, but only just, with his siblings. A unique piece is this here wooden dinosaur puzzle. Unique indeed.

Materials: pieces are of poplar and cyprus while the base is oak

Marble Chest

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This is perhaps one of the marble runs Spencer is most proud of. It took him 40+ hours in the shop garage to complete and he loved testing out each piece as soon as it was finished. This marble chest really is a masterpiece. You can’t begin to imagine the time we spent with this thing the moment it was all put together. As far as marble runs go, this is the best I have seen, probably ever. All I can really say is, “Wood Smith? We have arrived.”

This particular marble chest features of switch back set of routes at the top that alternate where each marble will end up. There are spirals, steps, jumps, and even a xylophone. Wheels turn, seals pass, and even a bell can be run by the marbles. The detail on this project is immaculate. If you are interested in crafting your own you can purchase plans here. The marble chest is a lofty pursuit that takes some meticulous work, time, and energy. Also having the marble chest level is key to it working. This is something we continue to find out the hard way.

Materials: mostly mahogany and Baltic birch, but also contains purple heart, oak, ash, white wood, and cyprus

Dimensions: H=20″ with lid open L=25″ W=12″