Picture of Make holiday ornament from bicycle chain
Since I have a lot of bicycles and that means I do a lot of bicycle maintenance. Eventually a bicycle chain wears out and I have to install a new chain. This happens more than I would like to admit so I have a plethora of worn out chains.  Throw them away?  I say NO ! ... reuse, recycle, re-purpose!

The holidays are approaching and I decided to make a number of gifts this year. Since only my friends and family actually read my instructables those people might want to stop reading here or risk spoiling your holiday surprise!  This project is awesome because one chain produces a LOT of ornaments (I get an average of 10 ornaments per chain).  It is easy to assemble, inexpensive, and it recycles what would otherwise be in the trash.

But how do you make this awesome ornament?  Stay tuned I am about to instruct.  This holiday project can be done very quickly so buckle up and lets go for a bicycle ride!

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Step 1: The tools needed for this project

Picture of The tools needed for this project
Most of the instructables I write can be performed with every day tools. This instructable does require a specialty bicycle tool called a chain breaker. A chain breaker has a rod that pushes the pins from between chain links and can be purchased at a bicycle shop. If you are going to be doing this project you should get a quality one because it will get a lot of use.

  • Rubber gloves for handing the chain and the solvents
  • Super glue to make the chain take on the star shape
  • Chain breaker get a quality breaker if you can find one
  • Hammer or pliers to reassemble the chain
  • Nails (not pictured) to make a jig to hold the chain
  • Wire hooks (not pictured), check the box stores in the holiday section

adelem1 year ago

love this...great idea and and the boys will love making these :)

rachl0091 year ago
Thanks for the cool instructable!
I spray painted mine silver because the chain I used was pretty rusty, I couldn't get them all the way clean.
star ornamints 1.JPG
ALSO, for anyone else that wants to make these, I found that liquid super glue worked WAY better than gel superglue. The liquid will get in between the chains to hold them, and you can't see it as much as gel.
MattBruzer (author)  rachl0091 year ago
Thanks for the tip on the super glue! Your ornaments look great! Hope you had fun. I am glad to share this with such a creative community!
Silence1 year ago
Just made one of these for my roommates christmas tree... They love it :P
If you don't have any crazy glue to lock it up, wrap a wire around the center bits and give it a few twists with a pair of needle nose pliers so its nice and snug. Trim off the excess and push the twist into a link to hide it. Bonus, you can reuse the chain if you need to.
MattBruzer (author)  Silence1 year ago

I had not though of using a wire around the center, but I am sure that works very well. Share a picture if you can. Thanks!
One standing to show the twist tucked away, one lying on the counter and another awkwardly hanging while I try to hold, operate my phone camera and hold the chain star still at the same time.
MattBruzer (author)  Silence1 year ago
Hey Silence your ornament looks great! You can not see the wrap cable when looking at the ornament straight on. Did you use a *new* chain for this project?! That one looks way too nice to have been on a bicycle.
Yeah its new chain. I just got a trike and it has an extremely long chain. Since I'm a short bugger, I had to bring the crank boom all the way in. This left me with about a foot or so of spare chain :P

This thing is gonna graduate to neck pendant when I go on my bike tour :D
DoDo7291 year ago
This is a very cool idea, having lots of bike chains myself, I will give this a try. Thanks for sharing
canida1 year ago
What a nice, simple, awesome idea. I'm totally going to make some of these!

And yes, biking in the winter is totally possible! Did it for 10 years in Boston. Ritual goes like this: put on a gazillion layers, top with waterproof layer, hoist bike over shoulder, tromp through snow, place bike on slushy road, ride. Get there before all of the cars. :)
Had you considered solder instead of glue?
I have made things with bike chain in the past, and as it is steel/stainless steel, you need to use a lot of flux to get the solder to take, and because of the shape of the chain and it's composition you have to really heat it up... A normal soldering iron can't do it, you would need several all at once, or a jewellers torch. It will also make a hell of a mess.

It was the first thing I thought too though. :)
askjerry1 year ago
Now all you need to do is add one link and make another jig... then you can also make hanukkah gifts.

MattBruzer (author)  askjerry1 year ago

Excellent idea, I did not intend to leave anyone out. I used 2 ornaments to make an ornament with six full links to look like the Star of David. I also found that fewer links made some cool shapes too. I updated the instructable with this information.
MattBruzer (author)  askjerry1 year ago

Great idea! I cut up all my chain before I saw your comment. If I find any more used chains I will try that. Thanks!
willschm1 year ago
May look good painted white/red/green. Is there enough texture on the chain for paint to stick to?
MattBruzer (author)  willschm1 year ago
Thanks for the comment Will. Some of the chain did not clean up very well and still looked dirty, so I tried painting those ornaments. I updated the instructable with that optional step.
if there isn't, then sandblast it! :D
Great instructable, though I've never had to replace a chain on my bike...did a stretch as a bike mechanic though, so I've removed chains....never kept them though, we "threw them out" (i.e.: one of the others collected the metal junk to sell as scrap)
Gadisha1 year ago
These are so cool, thanks for posting!
Huge thanks for this Instructable - the minute I saw it I knew I had to make gifts for all family and friends, and workmates too. The local bike shop sold me a chain breaker and gave me three free chains, which turned out to be good for 26 ornaments total (I wasted a few in the learning process). I was busy today, but gifts are done!

I found the jig quite a hassle to make right, and not particularly helpful. It only took ~30 seconds each to arrange them by hand.

You're right - a drop of superglue on the inner plate on each arm of one side of the star works perfectly, and capillary action sucks in the glue. When dry, you can't even see it.

I'm in love with this project! Thanks so much for posting.
MaryT8M1 year ago
I LOVE to go steal (er I mean FIND.......yeah that's right FIND) an old chain so I can make some (or talk Bill into making them for me! Do you think bike shops ever give (or sell cheaply) their old chins?
MattBruzer (author)  MaryT8M1 year ago
Hi Mary,

Your Local Bike Shop (LBS) may sell or give away some of their used chains. Buying a quality chain breaker from them may help. Try it and let us know how it goes!
MaryT8M1 year ago
Sorry for my poor spelling.....of course I meant chains not CHINS
nice goin' Matt! have you tried your hand @ making bike chain bracellets and such? I've seen these in stores and I'm sure you can make them too. cheers!
I've made several. You have to use a clasp, because otherwise, as I found out, you can seriously injure yourself if, even at walking speed, your chain bracelet catches on something.
mjursic1 year ago
Love this!!! It is one of the awesomest little instructables ever! I am going to make these today! Instead of gluing, though, I'm going to try hammering the points to force the plates together on the pins. This should work. I used to know how to do it with a chain breaker, but I may need to experiment. Meantime, great job!
Awesome. I'm going to make these!
krwoolsey1 year ago
thanks, this is a great project, I have a bunch of chain saw chains, I think this might work on them. I use my chain saw chains to lower my hanging plants to where I can reach them.
Best one in the contest so far! You've got my vote.
batonas1 year ago
taught of it some time ago, my idea was to put a keyring or some smaller adapter to make it into a keyring pendant, one more taught was to put a coin inside a circle of bicycle chain, some coins fit almost perfectly, great job by the way, I wonder would a spot welder do the job?
MattBruzer (author)  Penolopy Bulnick1 year ago
Thanks a lot Penolopy, it means the world that you like my instructable.
It's awesome, I've never seen an ornament like it! I like that you were able to easily recreate it!
Nicapizza1 year ago
Great Guide! This will make a great gift for my uncle!