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: https://www.instructables.com/id/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
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
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
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
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....