Introduction: Ring in the Holidays With a Bell Wheel

Bell wheels have been used for centuries to announce the arrival of holidays and special events. When the tops or crowns of heavy bells were attached to a wheel rim, multiple bells could be rung with less effort by just turning the wheel with a hand crank. Here is a desktop version of a bell wheel (actually a bell "tube") that you can build using recyclables and inexpensive sleigh bells available from pet supply stores.

This miniature bell wheel uses alternating rows of different sized sleigh bells to produce a soft, jingling sound. Of course, the dimensions can be up-scaled to accept better, cast metal sleigh bells if you want your project to sound like those Budweiser Clydesdales that star in Super Bowl commercials. :>)

Step 1: What's Needed

Large Stamped Metal Sleigh Bells (9)
Small Stamped Metal Sleigh Bells (9)

1/8" thick Cardboard Shipping Tube (1)
1/8" thick Cardboard Sheet from end cover of 3-ring binder (1)
1/4" Wood Dowel (1)
Plastic Cable Ties (24)

Hand Crank
1/8" Wood Dowel (1)
Rubber Grommets w/1/8" dia hole (2)
Rubber Grommets w/1/4" dia hole (3)
Popsicle Stick (1)

Wood Cigar Box (1)

Colorful wrapping paper, scissors, drill, hobby saw, needle nose pliers, sanding sponge, pencil, ruler, protractor & white glue.

Step 2: Measure & Mark Tube

Measure and mark 60 deg increments around both ends of tube. Connect marks w/ruler, then mark three equidistant points along each line. Tube must be short enough to fit lengthwise in cigar box.

Step 3: Cut & Sand Circles

Cut two circles from cardboard sheet w/a dia equal to the inside dia of the tube. Drill a 1/4" hole through the centers. Sand as needed for a flush fit.

Step 4: Drill Mounting Holes for Bells

Drill 18 holes in the tube just large enough to insert cable ties.

Step 5: Decorate Cardboard

Cover tube and circles w/wrapping paper. Glue in place. Poke holes through paper where holes were drilled w/a sharp pencil.

Step 6: Attach Bells

Attaching the bells to the tube takes some dexterity. Insert a cable tie head first from the inside of the tube through one of the holes. Slip tie end through the ring on the bell's crown and feed end back into the hole. Loosely secure tie, leaving a large enough loop for another tie to slip through this opening. Repeat procedure for the remaining two bells in the row.

Step 7: Tighten Bells

After you have secured three bells, slide another tie through each of the tie strip loops as shown. Tighten the three ties by pulling free end sharply w/needle nose pliers; trim excess w/scissors. The droopy bells should "snap to attention" and sit upright on the tube. Repeat procedure for remaining five rows of bells.

Step 8: Glue End Caps

Glue bell tube end caps in place.

Step 9: Assemble Crank

The hand crank is easy to make. Drill 1/8" and 1/4" holes in the popsicle stick to link crank handle to bell tube axle. Assemble parts using small grommets as shown to complete handle.

Step 10: Insert Axle

Drill one hole through opposite sides of cigar box just large enough to accept 1/4" dowel. Use axle to mount bell tube in box so that tube turns freely. Secure axle by sliding a large grommet over each end.

Step 11: Completed Project

Lastly, slide crank linkage on to axle and secure w/remaining large grommet so that linage is sandwiched in place. Here's a link to the video.

3rd Annual Make It Stick Contest

Participated in the
3rd Annual Make It Stick Contest