Introduction: Compressed Gas Cylinder "Temple Bell"

Picture of Compressed Gas Cylinder "Temple Bell"

I saw some fantastic "Temple Bells" at a local garden center that were made from welding tanks.  I really wanted one, but didn't want to spend $350 to get one. 

A few months ago, I came across an Instructable on making a compressed gas cylinder wind chime:  Using it as a starting point, I started working on my own. 

It turned out pretty cool.

Step 1: First Steps

Picture of First Steps

I started with an old aluminum CO2 bottle from a kegerator setup.  I put an abrasive cut off blade on my table saw and started cutting sections off about an inch at a time.

I researched the length to diameter ratio of temple bells and found that most of them were approximately 2:1 length to diameter.

I cut the bottom of the bottle a little at a time until I got close to a 2:1 ratio.

Step 2: Finishing the Outside of the Bell

Picture of Finishing the Outside of the Bell

Once I cut the bottom off the bottle, I needed to smooth out the cuts and make it look better.  Using a pneumatic die grinder with Scotch Brite pads, I smoothed and rounded the bottom edge where I cut off the bottom of the bottle.

I also removed the paint at the top of the bottle, and ground off the numbers that had been stamped into the metal.

Using a cut-off wheel on the die grinder, I cut off the valve mount.  I then returned with more Scotch Brite and smoothed it over.

For a final touch, I used a swirling pattern with the Scotch Brite to give it the pattern on the outside.  People have told me that from a distance it looks dented at first, but it's actually very smooth to the touch.  It has a nice, almost iridescent, look in sunlight.

Step 3: Creating the Clapper

Picture of Creating the Clapper

I was originally going to use a hockey puck as the clapper.  I was testing the sound of the bell with a rubber mallet, but it just didn't sound right.  I tried several other things to get the right sound.  In all, I tried a rubber mallet, a wood mallet, a heavy piece of plastic, and a regular claw hammer.  None of them sounded right.  They were either too soft, or to "clangy".  Then I tried wrapping a claw hammer with a leather chamois that I folded into several layers.  It was just the right sound.

I wanted to find something I could hang from the inside, was round so it could be struck in any direction, and was similar to the hammer in weight. 

I was able to obtain a spherical bearing.  I took the center out and it was perfect. 

I took strips of elk leather I got from the local leather store and wrapped the center of the bearing.  Then I turned a piece of wood on the lathe to form a core of the clapper.  It was slightly tapered to wedge tightly into the center of the leather wrapped bearing, and flared at the bottom.  After drilling a hole through the core, I added an eyelet to each end.

Step 4: Hanging the Bell

Picture of Hanging the Bell

To hang the bell, I used eyelets, a threaded coupler, and some washers.  The bell hangs from one eyelet while the clapper hangs from the other.

I used some para-cord between the hanger and the clapper.

On the bottom of the clapper, I used some blue nylon rope and wrapped the ends with some string.

Step 5: Summary

I really enjoyed making this bell.  It's tone is just a bit below E flat and will ring for 10-20 seconds depending on how hard you ring it.

If I had to do it over, I would have used a small droplet of oil in the kerf while cutting it on the table saw.  It would have made the process smoother and faster.

The next one is waiting in the garage.  It's an old welding tank, so it's a different type of metal.  I'll do more creative design work on the outside.  I think maybe a scalloped bottom edge or even a cutout design in the side.  We'll see....


Kapohoman (author)2017-08-04

We have been playing around with several large oxygen and nitrogen tanks. It seems that whatever the length we still are in the sharp F range. Any idea why the length would have minimal effect on the note or am I just stuck with F. We're planning on using a copper based paint and patina for our finish. Thanks for the great ideas. Love the input on the clapper.

steamman1948 (author)Kapohoman2017-11-05

I also was playing around ,,,,,,,,God was with me ..PLEASE read on ,,, 1 never use a acetylene tank it has a filler of white powder that is a mess and also acetone ,,,, TEASPOON will explode and kill you look on you tube ,,,,,

When you open a valve on a high pressure cylinder as I did one day it never hissed any gas out so I figured it was empty ......NOPE !!! so I took a sawzall and began to cut valve off to scrap the dollar brass valve ,,,,,,,,,,I didn't think of rust ,scale and debris had stopped the valve shut ,,,,,, ti took off knocked a hole thur one half of a cinder block wall dented a steel door bounced off the walls as I hauled butt out of the shop and from a distance saw the tank finally spinning faster than I could imagine ...seemed like five min it came to a stop ice build up on the neck and I was shaken wondering what if ,,,,,,,I had been in the way ???? Just remember valves opened could be clogged up ..acetylene is not worth getting hurt over ....25 years ago I removed a valve from a propane tank ( large one 4 foot tall ,,,,by pinning it against a big truck s tires (road tractor ) a MACK ....using a 48 inch pipe wrench a 6 foot pipe took it out very slowly . then fitted a 3/4 in ball valve filled it with water , turned vavle shut inverted tank with over head crane. usng a air drill I drilled a3/16 hole in center of bottom ....note drilling off center will cause it to spin if any pressure then passed a torch over the hole no indication of any fuel I cut a larger 6in hole to weld a threaded nipple capped it welded a 1/4"coupling for equalizer line and proceed to weld a stand while the tank was still full of water after that was safe to fill with sand and use as a sandblaster ,,,,this is the only safe way of cutting or welding on a fuel tank .........hope this keeps some one from getting hurt ...also 20# propane tanks are bad of rusting out on bottom ive had many blow out during filling WORK SAFE take 2 think it thru

I agree, it’s best to not use flammable gas tanks. I’ve made about 10 bells now, all from non-flammable tanks and recently obtained three CO2 tanks about 5’ tall and hope to make them in the Summer.
Be careful, take your time, and enjoy the process.

Nemesis201077 (author)2011-02-11

I run a fire safety company and have loads of old fire extinguishers kicking about. I might use some old 2 kg and 5kg CO2 cylinders for this and the windchime instructable.
Also thinking of making a smoker from the larger water fire extinguisher cylinders.

hey read how debris indicated no pressure till I cut the valve with sawzall abovethis post

Could I have one of those? The valves are usefull, you can attach it to a water hose for one example.

Absolutely, feel free to pick it up from Bristol or Tetbury in the UK whenever you're passing. :0)

Ok i will keep that in mind lol

JonS37 (author)2015-10-28

I'm new to this, so I don't want to make any dangerous mistakes. Should I remove the valve at the top of the tank before cutting the bottom open?

Royal Explainer (author)JonS372015-10-28

Yes. Always remove the valve first. That way you know there is no pressure inside the tank.

see my reply above I tried to remove a valve and almost got killed

JonS37 (author)Royal Explainer2015-10-28


ThorsonT (author)2017-06-03

I would like one if you have time, price and shipping to Atlanta?, kindly respond. Thank you.

zeo.phillpotts.9 (author)2014-11-08

I am currently in the process of making a bell from a standard sized nitrogen tank. I've seen bells made from these before and then powder coated - very nice! Beautiful sound too; deep, rich tone.

After reading the last comment about the college bell, I wonder what a large bell made from a propane tank, such as those used to hold propane or natural gas, for use in home heating/cook stove applications? Now that would have a deep tone I'll bet!! Size may be difficult to work with, but the effect would be remarkable!!

rimar2000 (author)2012-02-01

Aluminum is VERY sonorous. Years ago I read it is the most sonorous metal, and I think it it true. Good instructable!

lemonie (author)2010-07-07

Looks good - can you upload an audio-clip or video?


kill-a-watt (author)lemonie2010-07-08

I would not think you would get a good ring out of a aluminum tank. I's love to hear it also.

thepelton (author)kill-a-watt2010-07-08

for a real good resonant ring, you need copper. Aluminum doesn't ring that way. Balance an old US cent (before 1982) on a fingertip and tap it with another coin. You could also use a bronze, brass or copper coin from another country. You will know what I mean.

kill-a-watt (author)thepelton2010-07-16

silver must be good also. I can detect the ring of a silver dime over the copper/nickel alloy.

thepelton (author)kill-a-watt2010-07-17

All genuine copper, silver and gold coins have a good ring. If you look on the periodic table of the elements, you will notice that the standard coinage metals of Cu, Ag and Au all line up in the same column, meaning that they have similar properties, so silver (pre '65) coins, and copper (pre '82) cents will ring like a bell when balanced on a fingertip and tapped with another coin.

kill-a-watt (author)thepelton2011-10-03

tin (or rather pewter) has a dull thump to it, where as zinc alloy rings rather nicely.

doo da do (author)kill-a-watt2011-09-15

The price of silver is on the rise, someone might borrow it unless it is not easy to get to.

Royal Explainer (author)lemonie2010-08-09

Video clip is finally up.

lemonie (author)Royal Explainer2010-08-10

that's a nice sound -i was expect in more of a "dong".


pfred2 (author)2011-06-26

I cut the bottom off a cylinder once to make a crucible and I've had the top part kicking around now for what seems like forever. Now I know exactly what to do with it! Thanks. Super durable funnel just never came up in all the time I've had it.

sh0rtl!d (author)2010-10-07

Think this would be possible with oldish paintball Co2 containers or maybe good old Coleman gas canisters (fully evacuated of course with plug out, and probably washed for good measures)? I'd like to do something a little smaller scale. Mainly worried about the combustible chance of the coleman canister as that's what I'd like to use. I like booms just not in front of my face...

Royal Explainer (author)sh0rtl!d2010-10-13

I don't know much about paint ball, so I couldn't really say. I wouldn't do the small propane bottles, but I'm just overly cautious :)

I have seen smallish bottles from beverage supply companies, and also for small welding projects. Maybe one of those might work?

I've started on my next bell. It's half of a condemned SCUBA tank. It's steel, so it has a very different sound from the aluminium one. I've discovered that aluminium is much easier to work with (softer) but it just doesn't have the same sound. The steel offers a much deeper gong kind of sound rather than the higher ping the aluminium does.

I'd love to see what you come up with. Good luck!

TheLimbReaper (author)2010-08-28

I used make wind chimes and bells from scrap pipes, circular saw blades, oxygen tanks, etc... I thought they were cool, but the neighbors didn't care for the cacophony of sound when the wind blew at night.

ChrysN (author)2010-07-07

I'd love to hear it too. That looks really nice!

Royal Explainer (author)ChrysN2010-08-09

Video clip is up.

ChrysN (author)Royal Explainer2010-08-10

That sound great!

EmmettO (author)2010-07-09

How did you put a scotch brite pad on a die grinder? Do you have a plate that you mount it to or did you wrap it around a bit or something else entirely? I'd be cool to know.

Royal Explainer (author)EmmettO2010-08-08

I have a mandrel for my die grinder. I used 3M Scotchbrite discs. Here is a link to 3M for them. I got them from my brother-in-law, but I saw them at our local hardware store, so they're not too hard to find. Let me know if you want more info on them. They're great!

EmmettO (author)Royal Explainer2010-08-08

Oh, cool! I do some metal work and this would really be useful for polishing up things.

Royal Explainer (author)EmmettO2010-08-09

I added a stock photo from the internet that shows the kind of pad I used. They're really easy. This was actually the first time I'd ever used a die grinder or Scotch-Brite pads.

EmmettO (author)Royal Explainer2010-08-10

Oh! I see. I used to (or still might) have one of those pads, I just never had the mandrel that they attach to! I can find the pad easy enough, I just have to find the mandrel. Now that I know what it looks like it should be easier. Thanks!

hullscrubber (author)2010-07-08

Another good source of used tanks would be your local dive shop- most have a stack of old tanks that failed inspection, collecting dust.

I recently contacted a local dive shop. They happily gave me 6 tanks for free. Looks like I've got some more bells to make :) Thanks for the tip!

gravymatt (author)2010-08-06

So did you place the tank over the lowered blade - then turn on the saw - then raise the blade into the tank?

Yes. I put the tank onto the saw with the blade lowered. Once the tank was in position, I started the saw and cranked the blade up until it was making a very shallow cut. Then, I slowly rotated the tank until it had made the shallow cut all the way around. Then I just repeated the process making progrssively deeper cuts until it was cut through.

carnyboy (author)2010-07-09

Dude! Awesome looking project! Try this with a cast iron tank (old O2 bottle or CO2 tank). Nice pics and I LOVE the clapper idea. Mine was an old casy iron weight wrapped in electrical tape. Cheers on a wicked good ible!

Royal Explainer (author)2010-07-08

Thanks for all the complements! I'm working on a video clip and hope to get it up soon.

NutandBolt (author)2010-07-08

Great Ible, even if it doesn't sound like a cast iron bell it makes a great decoration :-)

masterochicken (author)2010-07-08

At my college the have very large bells made from old gas tanks outside of the welding classrooms. They are almost as big as me.

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