Introduction: Copper Tubing Wind Chime

This past holiday season I had a relative ask for a wind chime as their present.  So, being the person that I am, decided to make one for them.  Enjoy and have fun with this simple project.

Step 1: Tools & Materials

OK, first off, the materials list.  Since I already had some of these thing collected as scrap and such, I won't be able to list a price.
* 5 ft. length of 3/4 inch copper tubing
* scrap piece of 1x10 planking
* approximately 6 ft of decorative chain
* a small piece of golden craft wire
* 5 small sized "I" screws
* 3 small brass hooks
* 1 heavy key ring

Tools - well, a scroll saw would have been fantastic for this (or even a table mounted band saw), but I had to make do with what my budget allowed (tools that I already possessed).
* skill saw
* jig saw
* copper tubing pipe cutter
* needle nose pliers
* cordless drill


Finishing supplies - this is what I used to finish the pieces with:
* 1" paint brush
* primer for wood stain
* wood stain
* clear coat polyurethane
* mineral spirits
* 00 steel wool

Step 2: Draw Up a Plan & Prep the Materials

Unfortunately, the hand drawn plans that I drafted somehow disappeared between then and now, so we'll have to make do with a copy.  I decided to make the base in a pentagon shape, there by having five chimes hanging down.  I would use three connection points on the top, to connect to a key ring as the hanging apparatus.  For both the clapper and the weight,  I decided that I would cut some circular (as close as I could get with a jig saw) pieces of wood for these pieces.

First off, I needed to decide on the sizes of the chime tubes.  Since I only had 5 ft of copper to work with, I decided to go with 16", 14", 12" 10" & "8" pieces.  I measured and marked (with a sharpie) the lengths I need, then commenced to cutting them with the piper cutter.

Next was the wood work part.  I have to admit - I cheated a bit here, as I used some of my old drafting tools to lay out the pentagon shape.  I took an old "T"-square and a 45 degree and a 30/60 degree triangle to draw the shape out.  I used a 4" scale for the initial measurements.  For the circles, I can't remember what I traced around, but they were round containers of something or other.  I'm almost sure that the clapper design was drawn from the bottom of a soup can....

Next, don ye old safety glasses, and let the wood cutting begin.

Step 3: The Time Consuming Part

Here comes the fun part, so get ready for it (and advanced apologies - I didn't take any photos during this part).

After cutting all the pieces (both metal & wood), they need to be cleaned up (sanded or be-burred), smoothed up a little, and have some fine tuning done.

With the copper tubes, I took some 00 steel mesh to the freshly cut areas and carefully smoothed the edges.  After this, I took a rag with mineral spirits on it and ran it over the sections.  More than a few times.  This removes oil & paint / ink from the surface.  Next, I ran the 00 steel wool over the sections - this polishes them up to give them that shine.  Next was to carefully drill two holes in the top of the tubes - this is where the connecting chains will go later.

The wood - all I can say to sand, sand, sand.  I suggested a sanding block with 100 grit sand paper to begin with (that is unless you used a scroll saw, then disregard).  This is to knock the rough spots down.  When you get the pieces shaped kinda like you want, then take 220 grit sand paper to them.  I didn't want to get them real smooth, as I was wanting to go for a rustic kind of look.

I cheated a bit during the sanding part - I used my Dremel (with a sanding drum attachment) to help speed the process up.  Once you have the wooden pieces as sanded as you want, clean them well with a dry cotton cloth - I used an old piece of terry cloth.  This removes the majority of the dust.  Next, in a well ventilated area, apply the pre-stain to the wooden parts (follow directions for the brand that you use).

After that soaks in, it's time to stain the wood - whichever color or flavor that you want.  Since we'll be using polyurethane clear coat to seal the wooden pieces, now would be a good time to do a test run.  Polyurethane can change the color of the stain, so this will help in determining the time factor in both coats.  Have fun, but be aware that it is kinda messy, hence the need for some mineral spirits (for the clean up).  After the stain achieves the color desired and has time to dry (again, follow brand directions), its time to coat them with clear polyurethane.

Step 4: Putting It All Together

Now that all the parts are dried and ready, we can finally assemble the wind chime.

First, you'll need to space the eye bolts, all dependent upon the size of the chime's clapper - one for each tube, and one right in the center for the clapper chain.  Once you've set the eye bolts (these'll be to hold the actual chime tubes), on the top side you'll need to secure the small hooks, these will attach the chain to the large key ring.

On the clapper, I drilled a small hole through the middle and used a short piece of the golden craft wire to attach the chain to the top and bottom.  The upper chain, of course, attaches to the top, and the bottom chain (which should extend well below the longest tube) goes to the weight.

After the placement of the eye bolts and the small hooks, now we get to do a small amount of metal work.  This will involve the needle nose pliers.  At whichever lengths you prefer, we'll need to cut and bend some of the links in order to attach the chimes to the top, and from the top to the key ring, not to mention the clapper to the top and the down weight to the clapper (whew, that's almost a run-on sentence).

Now all you have to do is attach all these parts to the top, and you're ready to chime!

Step 5: Finished Product

And congratulations!  Your very own copper wind chime.  Enjoy!

Step 6: Update!!

I've been meaning to post this for quite some time, but I just haven't.  So since I'm working on another Instructable, I figured that I didn't have an excuse any longer.  I have no idea where I found this, but I thought that this could help with this project immensely.

Comments

author
JudiG5 made it!(author)2016-04-15

I know this is a very old project but I was wondering if anyone still monitors the site. If so, I can't get my chimes to swing enough to make a sound loud enough to hear beyond 1 foot! Mine was made in a circle as I'm using store bought birch rounds. I tried hanging the pipes from 3", 4", & 5" from the bottom of the wood. The striker is 9" down currently on 4" pipe strings. There's 6 pipes about 2" apart on the whole thing. Suspended from the striker 13" from there is the sail. I haven't cut the lines yet in case I need more adjustments but they aren't in the way. Some of the cord knots need to be replaced at different levels, tool. Here's the picture. Can anyone tell me what I've got wrong? Thanks!

image.jpg
author
Lord_Pruitt made it!(author)2016-05-02

probably need a bigger top for your chime assembly - that way the striker will travel further, there by transferring more energy to the chime themselves.

This is just a best guess, so please understand if this doesn't work correctly.

author
JudiG5 made it!(author)2016-05-22

That's a good idea. I never thought about the size of the top. I've changed nearly everything else so maybe that'll do it. Thanks - I'll let you know.

author
EugenioR8 made it!(author)2017-06-07

You might also consider changing the wind catcher to a shape that can catch wind. You can put the fairy on top of the base. Also ,consider making the clapper hit the bottom of the chimes.

author
slarti.fartfast made it!(author)2016-09-26

FYI those updated tuned lengths are in Lee Hite's very comprehensive website on wind chime construction -

http://leehite.org/Chimes.htm

which also gives details on tuning for other scales.

author
Phil+B made it!(author)2012-02-18

Thank you for your Instructable. I am assuming you used rigid copper tubing rather than the soft copper tubing. How did you decide what length to cut the tubing? Did you try to tune the tones to specific notes that would fit in a chord?

author
Lord_Pruitt made it!(author)2012-02-18

Yes, rigid tubing, 3/4" plumbing available at your local hardware store (I got mine at Home Depot). As for the length, I used simple math - I needed five chime tubes, and had five feet of copper tubing. While I do appreciate music, I don't have a musical bone in my body. I just divided the tubing section into five different length tubes.

author
Phil+B made it!(author)2012-02-18

Thanks. I cannot hit a single note when "singing." I know musically sensitive people sometimes want things tuned to specific notes.

author
DonG26 made it!(author)2015-11-30

This 4 year old forum came up while I was searching for wind chime instructions. If you all haven't figured it out yet, there are guitar/ instrument tuner apps available for free on android and iPhones. The better ones actually will give a reading for hertz and even decibels. The idea behind tuning is to get your tubes ringing at notes that compliment each other. I've seen chimes advertised as using the notes of say "Amazing Grace" I'm sure you'll have a hard time getting the wind to blow that chime so that the notes strike in the correct order, but it is still much more pleasant to listen to. There are so called magical tones that I am shooting for myself. For instance the note C at 528 hz. will actually heal human DNA. I'm looking for a chart or formula for determining what length and diameter of tubing to use to get pleasant sounding frequencies or tuned notes.

author
Prototyp+81 made it!(author)2012-02-20

great project! I like that sound, have a bamboo and a stainless steel wind chime. Presupposing same dimensions, i would like to know if the sound of your copper wind chime is similar to the sound of a stainless steel wind chime? any experiences?

author
Lord_Pruitt made it!(author)2012-02-22

To me, the chime sounds more like a bamboo than a metal chime. I think part of that has to do with the type of wood that I used for the clapper - plain ole pine board. Eventually, I'd like to experiment with using oak, cedar and maybe even locust.

author
dchall8 made it!(author)2012-02-22

The reason your sounds like clicks instead of tones is that you drilled the mounting holes near a vibrationally active area on the pipe. Had you drilled them at a dead part of the pipe (22.5% of the length from the ends), then your pipes would ring nicely. You can demonstrate this to yourself by holding a pipe near the end (like yours) or holding it about a quarter of the way along the length. One rings and one clicks.

author
DonG26 made it!(author)2015-11-30

I noticed some high end chimes were attached at different points and was wondering what the formula was. Thanks for sharing!

author
unclesam made it!(author)2012-03-12

Lord_Pruitt, there is something else that could be done to improve the tone of pipe wind chimes, in addition to suspending each of the pipes at its upper node point. The pipes can be suspended such that each is struck by the clapper at its lengthwise mid point. A pipe makes a tone by vibrating microscopically into the shape of a parenthesis, back and forth. Hitting each pipe in its middle maximizes the vibration. This would require that the pipes be suspended so that their upper ends are at different heights. Wind chimes are typically made for sale by people who are trying to make money, and I have yet to see any that have their pipes suspended for proper pure tones. Commercial wind chimes still make a pleasant sound, but ones made as I suggest are a real joy to hear. The lengths of the pipes really should be cut to standard musical notes within an octave. While you may not have a musical bone in your body, most people are irritated by discordant sounds. My parents had a commercial wind chime outside their house that would tinkle ferociously in a high wind, but they could barely hear it inside the house. One night one of the neighbors, who could no longer endure the noise, snuck over and cut the thing down, hauled it away. You might want to quietly check with the folks you gave the chime to, because they might notice the discordant notes but not want to say anthing because it was a gift.

author
DonG26 made it!(author)2015-11-30

Thanks for the tip!

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bodger+ed made it!(author)2015-08-30

why does it have hang points?

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Lord_Pruitt made it!(author)2015-09-01

It's a pentagram design, with each vertex having a hanging point. Each acts as a suspension point, all if which connect to a central ring to hang the chime from.

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laspawyorick made it!(author)2014-04-06

It was in Popular Mechanics

author
gmessenger made it!(author)2014-02-24

Thanks for sharing! The add on info at the end is particularly helpful as I was hoping to have a wind chime that rang specific tones instead of random ones :-)

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studentpete made it!(author)2013-05-22

Love your wind chime idea. How big is your pentagon? From the pics it would suggest about 8 inches wide. Also, does the picture show three chains attaching the chime to the key ring and then on to the roof?

I'm thinking of using this for a Cub Scout group.

author
Lord_Pruitt made it!(author)2013-05-22

Thanks! The base side of the pentagon is 4" (this would be the bottom side shown in the step 2 photo), and I believe the next two sides are 4" each as well, leaving the top two to whatever that works out to be.

And yes - three chains connect to the key ring, which is used to hang the chime wherever you want.

Good luck and please let me know how this goes if you use it for a Cob Scout project.

author
rpace1906 made it!(author)2013-03-04

This look way awesome! I have been looking for wind chimes for sale, and this gave me some great ideas! Thank you for posting

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l8nite made it!(author)2012-02-18

nice project. I never understood "tuning" windchimes, it's not like the wind is going to actually play a tune !

author
valhallas_end made it!(author)2012-02-19

It's more to remove discordance, as many people are very sensitive to discordant sounds (sharps, flats, off-key notes, etc). My dad and I built a copper tubing chime for my mom a few years ago, but minutes after it was finished we had to cut it down and grind one of the tubes shorter. Turns out we made our low-note tube about 3 mm short, and the noise was so horrible...I'm extremely sensitive to discordance, and it was painful to listen to (think dentist's drill, nails-on-chalkboard, nail-on-glass, etc.) - one of those "you really feel it in your teeth and bones" sounds.

Also, bonus pretzel: if you properly tune chimes, you can play songs on them like tubular bells. I had a great rendition of "Carol of the Bells" going once before the shopkeeper threw me out...

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