Design & DIY

Keep kids busy for hours with this DIY vintage wooden marble maze

Top down look at completed marble maze project Photo by Liam Mogan

The drive is over; you made it to the cottage. But not so fast. There are a few obstacles between you and the screen door to heaven. We used mahogany lauan to make the lid and base of our game because we like the overall look, but any scrap piece of G1S plywood will do. Object of the game: tilt back and forth to guide a marble to the finish. Good luck!

What you’ll need

  • 1 2’x2′ x ¼” G1S plywood
  • 1 2’x4′ x 3/16″ mahogany lauan plywood
  • Bristol board
  • 1 1×3 x 8′ pine board
  • Wood glue
  • ⅞” Fostner bit
  • Assorted materials for decoration
  • Varathane (optional)

1. Cut G1S plywood for your game surface and two pieces of lauan for your lid and base to 17¼” by 13¾”.

2. Drill a ⅞” hole into one piece of lauan to make an easy-to-remove lid. Decorate as desired. The other lauan piece will be the base of the box.

3. Cut remaining lauan into ½”-wide strips for the maze rails.

4. Cut bristol board to 17¼” by 13¾”. Use a pencil to sketch a grid as illustrated in Fig. 1. Use our example or create your own pathway by shading in the 3/16 ” gaps for your maze rails.

5. Select spots on the path and trace a penny for each hole. (Ask a grandparent for a “penny.”)

6. Tape grid to game surface. Press a nail through penny holes to indent plywood.

7. Remove grid. Drill ⅞” holes in the penny spots.

8. Retape grid, and indent beginnings and ends of maze rails. Remove grid, and decorate game surface.

9. Cut the 1×3 pine board in half, then cut four frame pieces for the box to length; two at 18¼” and two at 14¾”. Mitre the corners.

10. Cut notches in the frame pieces with a table saw (see Fig. 2). (You can also bevel the top outside edge.)

11. Dry fit pieces by sliding game surface into centre notches; your base and lid should fit into the bottom and top notches.

12. Drill an exit hole in the frame.

13. Glue the base, frame, and game surface together. (Not the lid!)

14. Cut maze rails to desired length, and glue in place.

15. After glue is dry, spray with Varathane (if using).

Pro tip
Try a marble convoy of two or three to increase the difficulty.

corner illustration showing measurements
Figure 1. Illustration by Jacques Perrault
illustrations of frame pieces in profile
Figure 2. Frame pieces in profile. Illustration by Jacques Perrault

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