I never knew marbles have a mind of their own. But they do.

Author: Rob Brown
Published: March 3, 2021
Marble game
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In my first “From Rob’s Bench” blog I mentioned a very modest marble run my son and I started. Although I was excited about the tiny bit of work we did, I largely included it in my inaugural blog to lock myself into having to make it, as I knew readers would want to see its progress. I was right. I’ve received a few messages asking about its progress (Thanks for keeping me honest!), so I thought an update was in order.

There’s Always Something
That marble just doesn’t go downhill nicely or consistently. I have to go rescue the marble about every fourth run because it leaps off the track or gets stuck somewhere. This guy has been hanging out here for a few weeks now. Thankfully, I bought a pack of 60 marbles.

Marble game

Carved and Textured Waves
I first used a router and power carving tools to form the “waves,” then added dimples with an awl.

wood texturing

Curved Facets
A sharp carving gouge was all that I needed to add some curved facets to the ends of this mahogany tea light holder.

Curved facets

Frost Design
Inspired by the frost on a window, I used a series of V-gouges and an awl to add that pattern to this curly sycamore coffee table.

Frost pattern in wood

Marble run update

Since my first post, my son and I have worked on it twice, I worked on it once solo (I couldn’t help myself), and I even got my daughter into the shop once to give us her thoughts. It’s still far from done, and really far from perfect, but it’s been fun trying to coerce a small marble down a flight of stairs in a controlled manner, especially when the marble seems to act differently with each run. I’m telling you, these marbles have minds of their own. I keep telling the kids that marbles getting stuck part way down a run is very common for even the most dedicated marble-run aficionados, and that means we’re pushing the limits of awesomeness. I think they both bought it, and now have full confidence in me again.

We’ve quickly used up about a quarter of the height we have to work with, but we’ve come up with an idea to use a mechanism to start a second ball that’s up toward the starting height to leap into action when the first marble comes into contact with the mechanism. It’s a tall task, but we’re all looking forward to seeing what we come up with.

Virtual Wood Show

The Virtual Wood Show is coming up this weekend. I’ll be there giving a seminar about possibly my very favourite woodworking topic — adding texture to furniture and woodwork. The only part of furniture making I love more than seeing a cool texture on wood, is doing the actual texturing.

Most folks love the smooth surface of a newly finished piece of furniture, but I much prefer the look and feel that texture offers. So much variety. So eye-catching. If you think folks reach out to touch a smooth surface, watch what happens when texture is added to wood. Join me Friday, March 5, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. to learn how you can start adding texture to woodworking projects. Check out WoodShows.com for more information.

As an aside, if you join us at the show you can also try your chances at winning a Milwaukee M12 Surge impact driver kit. I made a 15-second video to promote it, but making videos are never as simple as they look, especially when you have a mouthy shop dog. I eventually put her in the car for a few minutes, and shot the final video clip.

I hope to see you at the show.

You’re Okay, Birdie!

Birdie either wants to be let loose to search the shop, or at least be featured in a video. I chose the latter option.


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