How to Make Wind Chimes at Home

How to Make Wind Chimes at Home

The ancient Romans hung their porticoes with bronze wind chimes to ward off evil spirits, while metal, wood, and even glass chimes have hung for centuries in temples and homes from India to Japan. Today, wind chimes are made from materials including seashells, glass, ceramic, and even flatware. Here you'll learn to make pipe chimes—drilling, hanging, and tuning a set of copper or other metal wind chimes.

Only certain combinations of musical notes are pleasing when sounded together. One of the most pleasing is the pentatonic scale, a group of five notes that can be played on a piano's black keys. It takes some fairly involved calculations to determine the pipe lengths that make the desired tones, so this project includes the required tube diameters and lengths. Deviating from these measurements may result in some odd sounds. You'll also need to choose the material of your pipes—steel or copper tubes work well.

TOOLS:

• Measuring tape

• Pencil

• Hacksaw

• Fine sandpaper

• Bench vise

• Center punch

• Hammer

• Safety goggles

• Leather work gloves

• Drill with 5/32" metal bit and small wood drill bit, such as 1/16"

• Cutting and tapping fluid

• Hacksaw

• Wood saw (any type)

MATERIALS:

• 5 feet of ¾" copper or stainless steel tubing

• 5 no. 6 machine screws with nuts

• Locking nut or threadlocker compound (optional)

• 7 small wood eyelets

• 1 larger wood eyelet

• Nylon twine, string, or fishing line

• Scrap wood for mount, clapper, and scoop

• Wood glue

1 With a hacksaw, cut the following lengths of ¾" copper or steel tubing: 11½", 10⅞", 10", 97/16", and 8⅞". These should produce the tones C-sharp, D-sharp, F-sharp, G-sharp, and A-sharp. If you have a piano (or a piano app) match the bell tones to these notes, using sandpaper to shave tube ends slightly to make higher pitches. It's impossible to add back removed material, so don't take too much!

How to Make Wind Chimes at Home

2 Measure and mark mounting holes at the following distances on one end of each tube (from the longest to the shortest tube): 29/16", 27/16", 2¼", 2⅛", 2". Hanging pipes at these measurements allows for the best resonance.

How to Make Wind Chimes at Home

3 Secure a section of tubing in a bench vise (tighten it enough to hold the tube, but not enough to dent the pipe). Use a center punch and a hammer to make a small depression on one side of each tube that will keep the drill bit from wandering. Carefully align the center punch with the desired mounting hole position and strike the punch once, firmly, with the hammer.

How to Make Wind Chimes at Home

4 Put on your safety glasses and leather work gloves. A drill press is necessary for many metal projects, but for this thin tube, you can get away with a handheld electric drill. Because you will drill directly down through the top wall and also through the bottom wall of the tube, be sure to turn the pipe in your vise so the center punch depression is directly on top of the tube. Secure a 5/32" metal bit in your drill and coat the bit with cutting and tapping fluid, which is a coolant and lubricant that will help to ensure clean holes. Hold the drill perfectly vertical while drilling a hole through both tube walls. When finished, use a rag to wipe away excess fluid and shavings. Repeat with the remaining tubes.

How to Make Wind Chimes at Home

5 Insert machine screws through the mounting holes and secure them with nuts. Because the wind chimes will be in motion, the nuts will have a tendency to loosen. Consider using a locking nut or painting the machine screws with threadlocker compound.

How to Make Wind Chimes at Home

6 Make the mount from scrap lumber, using any wood saw. One successful design is a 5½" diameter circle of 1-by pine, but feel free to be creative with the shape. Draw a 4½" diameter circle on the bottom of the larger pine circle and make five equally spaced marks around the circle, which will be the hanging locations of the five bells. Screw a small wood eyelet into each of these five marks. Screw another wood eyelet into the center of the circle, to hang the wind-powered clapper.

How to Make Wind Chimes at Home

7 Tie 6 to 8 inches of twine, string, or fishing line to the machine screws drilled through the bells, and tie the other ends to the five evenly spaced eyelets.

How to Make Wind Chimes at Home

8 Use any type of wood saw to make a 2½" diameter circle of 1-by pine for the clapper—or a design of your choice. Round the edges by sanding or routing. Use a small wood drill bit to drill a small hole in the center.

How to Make Wind Chimes at Home

9 Cut a small paddle of scrap wood to use as a wind scoop. Shape and smooth into an oval or the shape of your choice. Screw an eyelet into the top of the wind scoop and attach twine. Tie a knot or knots in the twine at about the midpoint of the chimes to support the clapper. Feed the twine through the hole in the clapper and then tie the top of the twine to the mount's center eyelet.

How to Make Wind Chimes at Home

10 For an optional decorative finish, stack and glue additional wood circles on top of your mount to make a pyramid-like shape. Let the glue dry for 4 to 6 hours. Mark the top-center of your mount and screw in a large wood eyelet. Use twine or chain to hang the wind chime from a secure beam or tree branch in a breezy spot.

How to Make Wind Chimes at Home

The F-sharp major pentatonic scale is one of the most common scales used in music worldwide.

Creating Patina

An old copper roof, like that on Chartres Cathedral, will have a pale green tint—the result of copper oxidizing over the centuries—called the patina. But you can also apply patina to your metal projects to create an aged look.

Because patina work is meant to distress metal, it generally involves chemicals you don't want on your skin or in your eyes. Always wear proper safety equipment, including chemical-resistant gloves and safety goggles, and protect your arms and legs with appropriate work clothes. Patina also requires clean metal. If you'll be using old metal, be sure to strip away any existing finish. Depending on the project, stripping may require chemical paint stripper, an orbital sander with metal paper, elbow grease—or a combination of all three. (If you're not sure which is most appropriate for your piece, ask a professional at your local hardware store.) Once the metal is clean, and even if you're working with new metal, be sure to degrease it with rubbing alcohol and a lint-free rag prior to applying the patina, and make sure no dirt or other grime remains on the surface of the piece. Once you've degreased a piece, avoid touching it with your bare hands, which can leave oil fingerprints in your patina.

Rust patina. Most of what you need to make a basic rust patina probably lives under your kitchen sink. Fill a spray bottle with distilled white vinegar. Spray the metal with the vinegar and then let it dry. Repeat this step a couple of times, and then mix hydrogen peroxide with a little white vinegar and salt, using the ratio 8:1:1. Put the ingredients in another spray bottle and shake vigorously to dissolve the salt. Spray the solution on the metal. It should soon start foaming. Let dry and repeat.

Green patina. This green patina recipe is most appropriate for copper or bronze, but will work on iron or steel as well. In a plastic spray bottle, combine white vinegar, non-detergent ammonia, and noniodized salt in the ratio 4:4:1. Shake until mixed. Put on your chemical-resistant gloves and safety goggles, then spray the solution on your prepared metal and let dry. Repeat as needed.

Faux patinas. Patina paints are meant to create a patina-like visual effect on metal. One useful technique is to lightly sponge turquoise paint over bronze primer. No paint will give the full effect of a real metal patina, but it's always good to have a nontoxic paint alternative.

Finishing the patina. Most patinas on outdoor pieces, like garden furniture or decorative metalwork, will actually help the metal resist further corrosion. However, if you find that your patina runs or streaks with moisture or stains surrounding areas, consider finishing the patina with sealant. Use an acrylic or solvent-based sealer, not urethane or polyurethane.

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