How 2.0: Pipe Organ Chair




Introduction: How 2.0: Pipe Organ Chair

It's a chair. It's a musical instrument. Eureka!
Techno-Guru Brian of tech makeover show My Home 2.0 builds a Pipe Organ Chair, a (very) old-school invention that you can play, just by sitting down. Sit back and enjoy this silent movie DIY. For full instructions and more great DIY projects, visit:


  • Wooden chair
  • Aluminum alloy tube, 2" outside diameter, 1-1/2" inside diameter, 6' length
  • Oak Dowel Rod 2" Diameter, 36" Length
  • 2 Black pipes, 10 3/4"
  • 1 Black pipe, 6 3/4"
  • 3 Flanges, 3/4"
  • 3 Black pipe reducers, 3/4" to 1"
  • 3 Rubber reducers, 1" to 2"
  • 90-Degree elbow fittings, 3/4"
  • Big piece-o-leather .105in or 2.66mm thick
  • Box of 100 small wood screws, 1"
  • Wood glue
  • 3 Ball valves, 3/4"
  • Scraps of lauan
  • 2 Spring loaded hinges

Step 1: STEP 1: Gather Your Materials

Find an old wooden chair. The flatter the seat, the better. A thick walled pipe provides the best tonal qualities. The wooden dowel will need to fit snugly inside. The pipe should have enough thread so that you can attach the ball valves. The middle pipe should stick out 2" further than the others.

Step 2: STEP 2: Drill Air Holes, Attach Flanges

Drill the air holes for the bellows and attach the 3/4" flanges to the chair. The middle pipe should stick out 2" further than the others.

Step 3: STEP 3: Attach Ball Valves

Attach ball valves and 90 degree elbows, so that the airflow is under the chair, moving towards the back. Measure how far back you need to go to get approximately 3" past the back of the chair.

Step 4: STEP 4: Measure and Cut 3 Pipes

To get the best organ tones, take the diameter of the pipe and multiply that by two. This will determine the difference in pipe length. In our case, we multiply the 2" outside diameter pipe by two and get 4. So each of my pipes was four inches apart in length: 32", 36", and 40".

Step 5: STEP 5: Make the Reed

The reed is the piece of wood that forces air over the gap to make organ sounds. The reed should move in and out but still feel snug. I used a lathe for this. Cut a hard angle making sure to leave approximately 1/2" that's not cut or still round. Sand this leftover half-inch flat to meet with the width of the hole you cut in the pipe. Do not go more then the width. Insert the reed and give it a try by blowing into the end with the reed. Make sure the reed is flush with the edge of the hole.

Assuming you got a good sound, now it's time to build the little air flaps which will give you a strong sound even with a soft air flow. I made mine out of aluminum and welded it on but a good glue will work too.

Drill into your pipes on the back, approximately 4" up, and add a 1" long flat head screw to secure the reed.

Step 6: STEP 6: Support the Pipes

Cut a piece of wood 1"x 4" to stretch across the back of the chair, to support the pipes. Drill three holes for each of your pipes. I went approximately 3" apart, but this dimension can change depending on the chair you choose. This piece of wood is extremely important because it will hold up the rest of the pipe organ when you're done.

Now comes the tricky part: six inches from the end of the pipe, cut, saw, file, or grind a 3/8" wide hole across the top of the pipe perpendicular. Make sure it's straight. Use a 4" grinder and start out 6 in away from the hole and move towards the hole taking away more material as you get closer to the hole. File and sand away the excess material.

Step 7: STEP 7: Make the Bellows

1 1/2" pieces of wood will go around the chair for the "Chamber." This extra space is needed for the air intake valves. I made the intake valves with lauan plywood and some scraps of leather. Drill two 3/4" holes on the chair, and cut six 3" square pieces, 3 for each valve. I sandwiched a piece of leather between two squares and glued the other end of the leather piece in place. Glue leather to the chair to stop air from escaping, Screw down the valve flaps. The wood should lay flat on the leather seal.

If you're still reading this and haven't blinked, you’re either the world champion stare contest winner or you really want to build a pipe organ chair. I salute you.

The leather bellows: cut out your piece of leather so that it wraps completely around the seat part of your chair. Make it tight and then sew it together. I attached the leather with some glue and used thin strips of aluminum and wrapped them around the seat. This is to permanently hold the leather in place and ensure no leaks. I used 1-inch round head screws and drilled evenly spaced holes about 1 1/2" apart. Next I made a leather gasket to go around the bottom of the bellows and glued it into place. This gasket stops the air from escaping.

Sand the area that you're about to glue the bellows to and then lay down a bead of glue. Place your bellows down and screw from the underside of the chair up into the bellows. I used 2" course thread drywall screws because the bottom of my chair was thick.

Step 8: STEP 8: Finishing Touches

Polish the organ pipes to a chrome finish and attach them to the air pipes with reducers. Then attach your organ pipes to the back of the chair with U-brackets. I added some extra leather straps in an x pattern, just for show. Attach spring-loaded hinges to the chair and the top of the bellows. Set the hinges on maximum pull.

When you get up off the chair, the bellows inflates itself! By now, you'd probably like to take a seat. With occasional music. Turn the valves to play different tunes.

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