Thursday, April 21, 2016

the making of the marble shelf

Terry invented a marble shelf! It's awesome.

We frequent the library quite often and usually come away with no less than 30 books. This particular day we checked out 41. However, we used to have nowhere to put them! They would get splayed all around the main living room and every once in a while I would neatly pile them on the coffee table. And then the four-kid-tornado would hit and tear them all apart.

My friend Amanda and her homeschooled kids also check out tons of books. Last summer she had added a library book shelf to their living room and I thought it was such a good idea that I asked Terry for one too. And much like how Evie asked for a shelf for Christmas and received much more, so did I. We didn't want to buy a flimsy shelf so he decided to make one himself. While he was constructing it, he came up with the idea to make the shelf into a toy - a marble track. They love playing with marbles. We had a plastic marble track from a few years ago and the kids have destroyed it several times. Every time we go to Who's Toy House the littles are magnetically drawn to the large wooden marble tracks. Terry's a genius to come up with this idea.

Back in March before Dare 2 Share, Terry constructed the shelf's basic shape with pine boards. He then decided they weren't nice enough and added mahogany plywood over it all. But then we had D2S and he got sick with the flu and so the shelf sat for a while. When we recovered he cut one inch strips of wood and glued them to one side of the shelf. He didn't have enough clamps so he improvised with the old bricks from our fireplace.

However, once the pieces were all dry and we tried it out, it didn't work so well! The drops between each level were too great and there wasn't enough of an incline to hold the marble in and it would bounce right out.

Terry went through many iterations of corrections for this problem and finally landed on adding a long thin piece of pine to hold the marbles in and prevent them from bouncing out. And then on the other side of the shelf he put the tracks closer together, cut with more of a angle, both of which pretty much stopped the bounce. 

Next he added a marble/car maze for the top of the shelf. Once you reach the back corners the marbles drop down into the track.

The final thing Terry did was so add some mahogany plywood over the top of the pine track pieces and trim. It made it look a lot cleaner and smooth. 

Terry put two coats of gray stain down. It's the same color I put on the $10 coffee table and our storage bed. I thought we'd try it to take out any of the yellow color in the wood.

After those two coats. It looked a it a bit purple... 

I added two coats of Special Walnut, which is also what I did with the coffee table. 

Much better. Finally I put a couple coats of polyurethane on it. After about two months, it was finally done.

This was the first side that gave Terry all the trouble. You can see the long strips he added to cover where the marble drops down each level. It looks like it was part of the original design - you can't tell it was to hide a mistake.   

This is the other side that has more tracks and shorter drops. He added another thin strip of pine to prevent marbles from bouncing out, but it was much less of an issue on this side. 

Here it is in action! 

Noah helped me bring it inside after our library trip and then they got to work getting the books loaded on.


We have more than enough shelf space! Terry is seriously considering building another shelf, this time a little smaller. This one is a bit too snug for the kids to fit next to it. He even looked at wood yesterday. :D

The second side. 

The first side. 

 Look at those clean coffee tables! Oh, and the shelf. Oh, and the adorable kids reading...or pretending they can (I mean Samuel yo!)

The following morning Ezra discovered that his micro machines fit perfectly on top. He is the child that plays with this the most.  

Aw, such a cute boy and great shelf toy.

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