DIY Pinball Machines

Written by james stuart
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DIY Pinball Machines
A pinball machine can be made from a few wooden parts. (BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Making a pinball machine can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. Constructing pinball machines takes patience and skill. It's unrealistic to expect your table to look like the ones in the arcade, but with a little work you can put together a fully functional pinball table that everyone in the family can enjoy. Remember to keep it as simple as possible and plan out every step thoroughly. This will ensure that your homemade pinball machine is a success.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Scrap wood
  • Ball
  • Flat plywood board
  • Paint
  • Screws
  • Clamp
  • Hand saw
  • 2 rubber bands
  • Dowel
  • Wooden knob
  • Spring
  • Wood

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  1. 1

    Use a program such as Future Pinball (see Resources) to design your table before construction. These programs will allow you to plan out every step.

  2. 2

    Frame the flat plywood board by screwing the frame in place. Cut 2cm planks to match the specifications of the rectangular board. The board can be any size, but the standard specifications are 132cm long by 74cm wide. When this is completed, you should have a flat space with a raised frame.

  3. 3

    Hammer in nails in a series of straight vertical lines to create a number of different recesses at the bottom of the machine. Three nails should suffice for each line, and they should be just big enough to accommodate the ball. Inside, write different point totals. When the ball reaches the bottom it will fall into one of these slots. Consider writing a total of zero for some of the slots to make the game more challenging.

  4. 4

    Use scrapwood to create a slot big enough to snugly accommodate a dowel and ball. This should be done in the lower right corner of the machine. Once this is complete, drill a hole at the bottom of the wooden frame and fit the dowel through the hole. Drill holes in two small cubes of wood cut exactly to the specifications of your slot. Slide the cube down the dowel so that it's flush with the frame and glue it in place. This will stabilise the mechanism. Fit the spring over the dowel so it rests against one cube. Glue the second wooden cube to the dowel just above the spring. Do not glue the second cube to the table, or the mechanism will not work. This will create a launch mechanism for the pinball machine.

  5. 5

    Use the remaining scrapwood to create various geometric shapes according to your design. Attach them to the table using screws. These function as obstacles on your pinball table. Also create small open boxes around the table with various point totals written inside. These will help you keep score.

  6. 6

    Place a knob over the launch mechanism for comfort, and paint your pinball machine. Add any decorative touches.

Tips and warnings

  • Test your table continuously throughout construction. This will ensure that you can fix any mistakes easily.

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