The "Cliff Claven" page on BUM-DEE and other marble stuff

1.  "EGG" INFO

Some time ago in BUM-DEE lore, a furor was started over the use of large (roughly 1" diameter), heavy, ceramic balls.  Players began using them due to their density, non metallic composition as well as the fact that they wouldn't break like typical marbles.  However, due to their diameter and weight, not everyone was capable of shooting these new "marbles" on steroids.  Additional complaints stemmed from the fact that "kill" and carry shots are substantially more difficult to execute due to their size and weight.  Typical marbles would simply bounce or glance off of them while effecting only minimal change to the eggs.  Suffice it to say that the uproar was a result of players seeing them as both affording an unfair advantage as well as limiting the game to those with hands large enough to manipulate them.  Initially these ceramic marbles were not allowed however, eggs eventually came into regular use as the standard for taws in the game of BUM-DEE.

Coined and/or actual name:  Hardness on Mohs scale: Composite/compound make-up:
"EGG" a.k.a. Ceramic Media UNK. Aluminum Oxide - Al2O3 (CERAMIC)
  • Due to the irregular and somewhat elliptical shape of most of the ceramic marbles being introduced, the name "EGG" was coined.

  • "EGGS" are typically made of Aluminum Oxide but they can also be made of titanium oxide and zirconium oxide.

  • Eggs actually have uses other than playing marbles.  Typically eggs are used for deburring fairly large metal pieces.  The ceramics industry calls "eggs" ceramic media.  Ceramic media comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.  For example, cylindrical, spherical, triangular, rectangular and in sizes ranging from granular to large sphere's.

picture of some of the forms ceramic media takes


Mainstream marble games typically involve striking one marble against another in the course of play.  This impacting can and often times causes damage to the marbles.  In BUM-DEE it is not uncommon for a players marble to be split in two pieces.

Among other things, this section examines some of the most widely used types of materials for marbles as well as some that are on the exotic side.  In choosing a TAW or SHOOTER, most people would probably ask how "hard" a material is in determining this.  The first thing you'll need to determine is what "kind" of hardness you're looking for.  The Mohs scale (named after Friedrich Mohs, a German mineralogist that lived from 1779-1839) has been a system for rating hardness for quite some time.  The correct term for "hardness" in playing marbles is tenacity.  Tenacity is defined as:  A mineral's brittleness, or its resistance to breaking, crushing, tearing, separation, and bending.  Additional designations for tenacity include:  brittle, friable, sectile, ductile, malleable, flexible, elastic and inelastic.

Glassies are simply marbles made of glass.  Glass is the the predominant material used for making playing marbles.  Although glass marbles are cheap and abundant, they have a drawback in that they can be easily chipped, cracked or broken in two with relative ease.

Glass is made up of a variety of elements depending on the intended final product.  Glass marbles are most likely to be made of Silica.  Other compounds are added like alkali (usually in the form of a soda) to lower the melting point.  Lime is added for stabilization and cullet (waste glass) to assist in melting the mixture.  Other elements used in glass production are Na (Sodium) and K (Potassium).

Agate (a.k.a. aggies) is a very popular mineral for making prized marbles.  Agate is a very tough mineral that can withstand several impacts.  Taws made of agate are the predominant choice of serious marble players the world over.  Aggies, unlike marbles made of glass, are more expensive and are therefore more highly prized by there owners.   However, withstanding its toughness, given an advanced enough marble player, more than one aggie has been known to chip and break in a game.

Coined and/or actual name:  Hardness on Mohs scale: Composite/compound make-up:
Agate a.k.a. cryptocrystalline quartz or chalcedony 7 Silicon Oxide - SiO2

Diamond, a form of carbon, is the hardest mineral on the earth.  On the Moh's scale a diamond rates at 10 (10 being the highest).  However, if you were so bold as to form a playing marble out of diamond, you'll be very sad and probably a little upset when the first time you hit another players marble your diamond breaks apart.  A diamond's crystalline structure is octahedral.  That means a sphere made of diamond roughly 3/4" to 1" in diameter would have a lot of cleavage points.  However, a diamond's surface IS in fact very hard and will not scratch.  NOTE:  Carbon takes on many form factors other than diamond based on either the crystalline structure and how the carbon atoms are arranged.  Carbon comes in the form of Ceraphite, one of the softest known materials and Diamond, one of the hardest known materials.

Coined and/or actual name:  Hardness on Mohs scale: Composite/compound make-up:
Diamond 10 Carbon - C

Strictly on the basis tenacity, jade or specifically, jadeite is the best mineral to make marbles out of.  Even though jadeite is only a 6.5 on the Moh's scale, it is the "toughest" mineral in terms of tenacity on earth.  Jadeite can withstand tremendous pressure and force yet is even more elastic than steel.  CAVEAT:  Jade comes in two forms - jadeite and nephrite.  If your planning to get a marble made of jade, be certain it is made of jadeite.

Coined and/or actual name:  Hardness on Mohs scale: Composite/compound make-up:
Jade a.k.a. jadeite 6.5 Sodium, Aluminum, Silicon & Oxygen - NaAlSi2O6

For the marble player who REALLY wants to achieve total domination rights in the tenacity/hardness field, industrial grade composites are where it's at.  For example, Silicon Nitride (Si3N4) is a VERY hard composite material.  <insert sales pitch> As a matter of fact, happens to sell some of these more exotic composites.  Because of their exacting proportions, manufacturing tolerances and tenacity, we simply call them "NASA marbles".  Er... moving along....  Other composites like Boron Nitride (BN) represent potentially even harder composites although not readily available in the form factor of a playing marble.  Suffice it to say that you will not be able to break these composite marbles in the normal course of marble play.

In the meantime, if your not wanting to use a heavy ceramic "EGG" and you don't want to shell out the bucks for "NASA" marbles or jade, marbles made of agate are probably your best choice.


This particular section is not meant to be authoritative.  However, a few methodologies are explored.  First, if your making a marble out of a mineral substance you'll more than likely want to obtain a sphere machine.  If your making marbles out of glass, then you'll want to learn about working with blown glass.  If your making playing marbles out of more exotic substances then your advised to seek information from the materials or chemical engineering department of an institution for higher education.  Below are pictures of sphere machines.  These specific machines are made by Covington Engineering (