Friday, 18 May 2012

Homemade copper wind chime ... ...

Me again, for some time I've been thinking about making a wind chime, and I've finally managed it, and from mostly scrap copper, I did by 5 bits of gas fire tube from b&q they were on offer for £1 a length, I figured I'd get them, you never know when you might have need for 5 random bits of tube, and besides which although they had been painted black they were copper.

Now this wind chime does require some tools, like metal cutters, a pipe cutter and a small hole boring bit (you'll see why I needed that) a hacksaw and possibly the use of a small gas blow torch and some lead solder (all of which I have) although buying these tools isn't that expensive, but I would say in the case of the metal cutters it's worth spending a few quid extra for a good set.

Here's the wind chime -

It'll fit in the garden better when it goes green.

This another one I made, slightly different method of construction than the first - 

This one has a better chime to it.

 I made them from copper tubing I had lying about, along with some salvaged copper wire and the tube I got cheap from b&q.

Basically all I've done is cut out a star shape from a bit of the copper tube (I'll explain in a minute) and then using copper wire I've hung five small bits of tube and a small stone from the star shape, with a further bit of wire hanging from the stone to which I attached a small moon shape, again made from a bit of copper tube.

To cut out the star shape I used a bit of 22mm copper tube, and to turn it into a sheet I made a cut in it then opened it out wire two pairs of pliers, then to get it nice and flat I used a small hammer.

Cutting the tube (you could use a hack saw to cut it) -

I wasn't being too careful.

Section of tube ready to be turned into a small sheet -

Right off to the vice, which is handy for this type of thing.

In the vice being cut -

Nearly done.

And now opening it up - 

Once it's opened it's just a case of bashing it with a hammer.

Then all you need to do is lay the opened up tube on a flat surface and tap it gently with a hammer until it's flat, and you should then have a small copper sheet.

Like this -

Ready for a shape to be scribed onto it.

Next you need to draw your shape onto it, for this you should use something sharp like a scribe or maybe a small screw driver.

My scribe -


Now you need to cut out the shape you drew, this is where a set of metal cutters (tin snips) come in handy, you could cut out the shape with a hacksaw, but metal cutters are better.

The shape marked out and ready to be cut - 

My tin snips (metal cutters) - 

Quite old now.

Now before you start cutting ! put on some gloves, like leather gardening gloves, why ? well because the edges will be sharp and if you slip whilst cutting you'll end up with a nasty cut, and it'll hurt like hell (trust me I know) you can smooth the edges off with a bit of sand paper or a metal file.

The moon shape for the bottom of the chime - 

Bit dull isn't it.

Don't worry about the colour of the shape, or the tubes, you can give them a rub with a bit of wire wool, an old scouring pad to brighten them up a bit, but in the long run if you hang this outside it will eventually go a nice green colour as the copper oxidises which is known as vert de gris, I've put this one in the garden as I want it to go green.

After a bit of a scrub - 

Nice and clean now.

To hang all the bits together I used copper wire salvaged from an old pc power supply transformer, most electronic equipment contains copper wire in some for, normally on the transformer, and it can also be found in different gauges (thicknesses) We recently went through a load of old stereo equipment and found loads of it, it can be difficult to get the copper out, but in the long run it'll save a fair bit of cash compared to buying it.

My copper wire - 

There's loads of it on here.

Now simply hanging the tubes on plain wire is a bit boring so I tend to make braids from the wire first, this is basically just a case of taking four equal lengths of wire and twisting them together, which I do by holding the ends of the four lengths of wire in a vice, and the other ends I put in one of my cordless drills, then I slowly press the drills trigger and what I end up with looks like the picture below.

Twisted wire - 

Better than plain bits of wire.

Interestingly this method is how the old tribes of Britain used to make torcs and such like, only they didn't use drills to do the twisting, they did it by hand, and a lot better than me.

Right we have our small tubes for the chime, I used five (one on each point of the star) and kept them at equal lengths, but how long and how you arrange them is up to you.

To fix the wires to the star I drilled a hole on each point, then I just threaded a length of wire through the hole and put a not in it to stop it falling out, yes this wire can be knotted easily if you are gentle with it.

Wire knots - 

A small pair of pliers comes in handy for this.

My chime during construction - 

all shiny, for now.

I have to admit when it came to fixing the chime tubes to the star I was a bit puzzled, I couldn't think of a good way of doing it, and get the chime to look how I wanted, but after a bit of messing about I figured out a pretty good method.

What I did was to make five loops that fitted inside the tubes, then I could simply put the wire through the loop and twist it together.

Like this - 

Simply really.

To make the loops all I did was to drill a hole in each tube, just a small way from the end, then I poked a bit of copper wire through, I used thicker gauge wire as I don't want them to come out easily.

Here are the steps to make the loops for each chime - 

Wire threaded.

It's best to make sure there's a good amount of wire each side of the tube.

Next using a set of needle nosed pliers to pull the wire out of the tube.

Making the loop - 

Any thin nosed pliers should do.

And pull, making sure that the wire doesn't come out of each hole.

And we have a loop - 

Just a bit of tidying up now.

Now we just need to bend the wire up and snip of any extra.

The finished loop - 

It worked better than I thought it would.

Right onto the part that will hang in the middle of the chime and move about in the wind and make things chime, for this I used a pebble, but you could use a bit of wood, a bit of metal or anything else that will make a nice sound when it hits the metal chimes.

And that's why I needed a small hole boring bit, I found a 10mm (perhaps a bit big) in b&q for £2.99 not bad really, I could have just wrapped the wire around the pebble, it would have worked just as well.

The pebble striker - 

We seem to have a load of pebbles for some reason.

I made a length of twisted wire and threaded it through a hole on the middle of the star and the other end I tied to the pebble, I then used another length of twisted wire to attach the moon shape which hangs at the very bottom of the chime, I fixed the moon with another knot.

The moon - 

The pitting looks good I think.

As this is made with copper you can use a small bit of solder on the metal twists to hold things together, but as long as you twist things up nice and tight (use pliers) it should be fine.

I'm thinking of selling these in the shop, I think they are pretty cool, and I'm pleased that it worked as well, I haven't really done any of this type of metal work for years, and once it's turned green it should look even better.

A slightly better picture of the finished chime - 

Chimey whimey

Thanks for reading.

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