Instructables
Picture of Copper Rain Chain
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This is a copper rain chain I made for my wife, she convinced me to enter it into the Etsy Sewuseful contest. And here's the link to it on Etsy copper rain chain

I guess I should mention what a rain chain is, it's an alternate to a downspout, it guides the water and breaks up the flow, they originated in Asia.

 
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Step 1: You will need

1/4" soft copper tubing 3.5 times as long as you'd like the finished chain
2" pvc pipe
diagonal cutters
lead free solder
blow torch
heavy leather gloves
flux
pliers


Step 5: But don't solder yet!!

You need to link the rings before soldering. Now that they're linked brush each joint with a little soldering flux, heat it in the torch and flow in some lead free solder.

PS this is where you need the gloves, copper in an excellent conductor of heat.


Step 6: Hanging

Picture of Hanging
Hanging is simplicity itself, remove old down spout, feed the topmost copper ring up through the hole and insert a spare piece of straight copper to span the downspout through the topmost ring. Now wait for rain, with our drought I simulated it with the hose. ;-)


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matametal7 years ago
I have seen these in magazines. Your rain chain inspired me to make one from "dollar store" stainless strainers and chain. Will post later with pictures.

do you have pics?

I would love to see pics.
Do you have pictures or instructions of how you did this?
Great instructable. I did not like the "flat" edges created by snipping with the diagonal cutters used in your step 3. Some users suggested using a tube cutter but found that the tube cutter would not work with the copper coiled around the pvc. At step 3 I left the copper coil on the pvc and used a hacksaw for a straight cut through the whole coil instead of using the diagonal cutters. This will take a little more elbow grease & patience, but is a simple solution so that the cut edges hold their circular shape and will be flush when soldered. Again, great instructable. Thank you.
Mincot4 years ago
This looks absolutely fantastic! I've seen these with stars, bells, and saucers as well. Soldering it with higher-temp compatible copper solder should be no trouble if you have a propane torch. Has anyone tried the "Just for Copper" cold solder that you can get at Ace Hardware and other places? It doesn't work for small applications (think soldered jewellery chain) but it might for this. I'm going to try one for the back yard, out of sight. My only question: how do you keep it from developing legs and walking away on its own if you put it in the front of your house? In my neighborhood that much copper would be a target for midnight acquisitions, for sure.
Attach it to a car battery out of sight? :OD

~adamvan2000
Attach it to something with about 40,000 volts... >: )

Earth stake in the wet ground...
Redstormx12 years ago
wish you used tube cutters . the flat cuts look bad ,
dilysalu6 years ago
I have friends who have a menace with the downspout: during the spring and summer the downspout does"OK" but during the fall and winter to spring thaw and freeze the downspout becomes a frozen waterfall including the deck and steps in the area (up to 6" thick of ice). Can the rain chain correct this situation? Everyone is talking about the coper stealing and the water what about the frozen side of this? Does anyone have any experiences in winter like and frozen-thaw situations for the rain chain?
The rain chain is better suited for freeze/thaw situations than the standard downspout. The chain will allow for faster thawing and faster movement of the water. Also, the chain can be anchored slightly away from the house to prevent ice buildup on the steps.
bicker, bicker, bicker... stop arguing! is this why we are reading this? just to find faults with peoples creations? WELL DONE Tool Using Animal!!!
well the only problem i see is that its copper =(.
it will disappear in a week
What? - you mean someone will steal it?... copper contains no iron so doesn't rust. why are all your copper water pipes still there? ;-)
Since it's copper, won't it get a patina? I ask because I can only imagine that will be BEAUTIFUL in a garden... I hope you'll share photos in the future. :)
rcblev4 years ago
good rain chain source here.  they also have a great tutorial as well on how to make a rain chain. 
ysabet5 years ago
One thing you can do with a rain-chain is stake it into the ground at a slight slant away from where the water would normally plummet down to; most of the water will follow the chain, so you can stake it a little sideways to a garden plot and use it for watering a space that your eves keep from catching enough rain. Works pretty well, actually.

Nice instructable! And these suckers cost a freaking *fortune* if you buy 'em, so I think I'll make one. Thanks!
Fretka ysabet4 years ago
 love your profile pic...  ;)
awesome. I've seen this done with steel chain,(looks good) but this adds just that little bit extra. nice work!
roslekh4 years ago
I purchase a Copper Tulip Rain Chain from Rain Chains World and I love it!


Dr.Bill5 years ago
We use these in the pacific.
craftyone5 years ago
I love the chain!! I don't have any gutters or downspouts. Any ideas on how to install one without gutter or downspout? Thanks
scafool5 years ago
So, how does it sound?
nimitz5 years ago
I was pondering making these for the house and just came across a slightly different idea. Use copper nails:<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.bestmaterials.com/detail.aspx?ID=9874">http://www.bestmaterials.com/detail.aspx?ID=9874</a><br/><br/>You could clip the ends of the nails before bending them. I figure each 6" nails make about 2" rings or so which would mean you'd need about 30 or so nails for a 60" chain. <br/><br/>From the above link that works out to something like $30 or so each chain . I haven't worked out how that compares to tubing but it might be cheaper depending on the length needed.<br/>
Rob K6 years ago
Here is my version it is not on a gutter tough. 1/2 inch 16 gauge rings. Copper and stainless steel. They are hardened copper and stainless, a pain to bend with pliers. The green patina was just water, salt and vinager sprayed on it.
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microfarm Rob K5 years ago
Just beautiful!
markvid5 years ago
Hi. You suggested to use lead-free solder. Does that mean tin (Sn) solder? If you connect copper and, for example, tin and put them in water with ions (rain water is acid), this will create an electro-chemical cell, causing one of the two metals to corrode. In the case of Cu-Sn, tin will corrode.
Check the Standard Reduction Potentials. In water, copper will reduce all metals below it in the table. This means that your solder would eventually corrode and become kind of useless... I can't tell how long this will take though.
By the way, this is why you shouldn't link copper water pipes with iron or lead ones: iron or lead will corrode in the years, even with drinkable water.
I suggest you could make the chain without even soldering it, since it doesn't have to support weight; otherwise you might want to melt copper (>1000°C) and solder with copper itself.

Marco
Tool Using Animal (author)  markvid5 years ago
I used the "silver solder" sold for plumbing, a tin silver bismuth copper alloy. If it's designed to keep copper plumbing together~shrug~ I imagine it's adequate for this application.
Oh well in this case i think it is. Thanks. Marco
timmy1234s5 years ago
sorry but just looked at the introduction and it says that this is made out of copper. Wont the copper rust really fast do to the acceleration of oxidation on the copper caused by the rain?
Tool Using Animal (author)  timmy1234s5 years ago
No, copper patinas, as opposed to rusting, so in essence the corrosion that forms, forms a seal preventing further corrosion. All that's happened over the last year is the copper has darkened slightly. Eventually, hopefully, it will turn that lovely green color of the statue of liberty.
CinTin5 years ago
Couldn't you just leave the copper wire as a spiral instead of cutting to make links? That way you wouldn't have to worry about cutting it. After you wrap the wire around the tube, stretch to the desired length so you could see the spiral. I think I'm going to try it. Thanks for the great idea!
Tool Using Animal (author)  CinTin5 years ago
Yes, however we get rather severe weather around here and I assumed it would get bent in no time.
smj566 years ago
Thanks for this idea. I have been looking for an idea for a small copper fountain for my back yard. thanks
pauprint6 years ago
I just wanted to say I thought you did a fantastic job on your tutorial and really appreciate it. I've been wanting to do one of these since the first time I saw them. Thanks so much for your time and work.
w8n4abreak6 years ago
I use a cheap bandsaw ($35 used) with a blade made for soft metal ($6) to cut copper. It's very handy for cutting large guage wire, tubing and sheet goods. Oh yeah, and as far as toxicity of copper goes, it's been used for decades for roof flashing, roof material, siding and even the Statue of Liberty. I wouldn't worry about toxins from a rain chain.
svogel6 years ago
I just made a chain last night. For my prototype, I bought a 10-foot coil of 1/4" soft copper at Home Depot for just under $7.00. When I wrapped the tubing around the PVC, the tubing didn't even seem like it wanted to kink. Also, I did not have enough strength or a sharp enough cutter to cut through the tubing, so I pinched the tubing with the cutter, and just bent it back-and-forth at the seam until it broke. This worked just fine. I ended up with a 3-foot long chain from 10-feet of tubing. My math says I'll get a 9-foot chain for $21.00; much cheaper than buying one. I'm going back to Home Depot for more tubing! Excellent Instructable!!
kaytracy7 years ago
you can always use a gentle hammer strike to make ovals, reducing the diameter of the circle, and lengthening the chain, to use less copper. One could also use the hammer and pliers for twist or curl on the ends to make a bit more decorative, heat makes copper soft, bending and striking makes it hard. k
or you can make a more regular oval, or a rounded rectangle, by wrapping the coils around something other than a pipe. perhaps using half-round or molding attached to a 1x2 could produce interesting (and slightly more economical) shapes. n [] u
csblev6 years ago
I have made rain chains this way, except I can recommend an improvement on this listed method: instead of using cutters, you can use a circular saw with a fine finishing wood blade (yes, that's right, a wood blade for copper--it makes a much smoother cut and does not crimp the tubing), it will wear out relatively quickly, but you can make a few chains before it does. You will also want to clamp and tape the uncut coiled copper roll to a saw horse or some other stabilizing structure so they won't fly everywhere. And wear protective eye wear! Since making the loop design listed here, I have since bought a few fancier designs (beyond the scope of my abilities) from this rain chain source But try the circular saw--it makes all the difference!
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