Memorial Chimes

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Project by Tennessee posted 05-25-2013 12:50 PM 1112 views 6 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

There is not a LOT of wood on this project, but I thought I would post it for Memorial Day Weekend.
I’ve always been fascinated by chimes, and own a few sets, but never built chimes until now. After some research on the Internet, I came across what has to be the definite website on chime building and engineering, here:

Mr. Len Hite has put together a fabulous website complete with the following:
A PDF file which downloads as 52 pages of full color showing all aspects of how to build chimes, the engineering and proper way to tune your chimes, striker considerations in wood, multiple windsail considerations, and many other things. I took the time to print this out and bind it, since it now rides in my shop for reference.
Excel files, all downloadable, which will allow you to automatically configure your tube material into true sounding pipes that you will be proud of. His Excel files allow you to input ID and OD correctly to the ten/thousandths, and this is important since I found out the tough way that aluminum 1/4” tubing is not truly .250, and that does make a difference. His Excel files also allow for aluminum, steel, copper, stainless, brass and cast iron. (Yes, cast iron does ring out nicely!) The Excel file also tells you exactly where to drill your holes. The book tells you how to make the holes so they don’t wear through the line. (I used aluminum rivets with the nail removed.)

My first effort was the small chime in the last two pictures. The support ring is oak, and the striker is oak, with a bubinga windsail. I coated it all in Tru-Oil. When I attached the chimes and striker, I laid out the hole pattern as per Len’s nice format, (yet another Excel download), and simply stapled the string ends to the top of the ring. Then I cut a nice circle of bubinga and screwed it over all the staples and string ends to clean it all up. The windsail is cut with a little wave in it, but I should have put the hole towards the middle to slant it for more wind catching. Live and learn. It still sounds nice, and now I know why all the ones I’ve bought don’t. Tube length compared to diameter and wall thickness, hole placement, and striker placement is all very important to true tonal bliss.

My Memorial Chimes are tuned to A, B, F and G. They are held by a solid cherry plank sprayed with satin lacquer, on which is bolted a lantern that will hold a forever candle. The striker is walnut and oak which I turned and coated with Tru-Oil, making the oak the striking wood, (kind of shaped like an acorn), and adding weight to the striker bottom so it would not deflect immediately upon hitting a pipe. This gives me a kind of double hit which is pleasing to the ear. The windsail, I confess I did not build. I intended to paint a hardwood windsail as a flag, then my wife found this eagle plaque on sale at a local store so to save time and get it done for this weekend I went with that. Overall, about 8-9 foot in length, with the longest pipe over 52” long.
The aluminum piping was simply found in the metal rack in a Lowes. It is one inch, but really came out to .9985OD, and .8865ID. That made a definite difference in the database lengths. The difference between a true tone, and a piece of wood clanging against a tube. The lantern came out of a clearance area of a Kirklands.

If you are interested in chimes, take a look at Len Hite’s website. You’ll find yourself, like me, balancing various copper piping and EMT conduit in a big box store, then striking it with a PVC elbow to see how it sounds!
Thanks for lookin!

-- Paul, Tennessee,

9 comments so far

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 2838 days

#1 posted 05-25-2013 01:41 PM

Those are wonderful, Paul. What a great post for Memorial Day weekend. And thanks for the link on engineering them. Sounds like a great project!


View Tennessee's profile


1582 posts in 1267 days

#2 posted 05-25-2013 03:14 PM


-- Paul, Tennessee,

View JoeinGa's profile


3699 posts in 760 days

#3 posted 05-25-2013 03:20 PM

I love wind chimes and have made several. Never did any “science” as to length -vs- pipe size for tone. Usually I would just cut pipe to what ever length I wanted and go from there.
I’m favoriting this so I can spend more time at that link you gave… it will DEFINITELY change the way I make chimes the next time.
THANKS for sharing.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View learnin2do's profile


868 posts in 1605 days

#4 posted 05-25-2013 03:40 PM

Thanks for posting the link! I tried them before with little success in balance! Those look marvelous!

-- christine

View waho6o9's profile


5301 posts in 1330 days

#5 posted 05-25-2013 03:52 PM

Perfect timing, I was thinking about wind chimes the other day, and
now you’ve posted all that is needed.

Many thanks!

View Dusty56's profile


11688 posts in 2441 days

#6 posted 05-25-2013 04:27 PM

We need a video posted so we can see and hear those beauties in action : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Tennessee's profile


1582 posts in 1267 days

#7 posted 05-25-2013 05:08 PM

Dusty: Just go to your keyboard and hit A, B, F and G about the second octave from the lowest and you’ll get the picture!
joein10essee and learnin2do: You’ll be amazed at what Len Hite says. Definitely changed the way I look at wind chimes. All my bought ones look wrong to me now. And the two that I have made to date both sound better than the others.

I also think these things, done right, are truly salable items. There are a LOT of incorrect chimes out there. These you could listen to all day…the website also allows you to really get out of the box and do something different. I’ve got a half moon design on the bench with twin strikers, and a horizontal pipe model coming out soon. When you hear them really right, they get addictive, and you do not have to buy expensive pipe. EMT conduit can be made to ring like a bell choir. And I prefer black pipe over galvanized, and copper has to be at least 1” or the fundamental frequency drops below 300Hz rather quickly, even though you can still see the pipe vibrating. Who knew?

-- Paul, Tennessee,

View Dusty56's profile


11688 posts in 2441 days

#8 posted 05-25-2013 05:53 PM

The only keyboard I have is the one I’m typing on right now, and all of the keys make the same sound….click…click….click…. LOL : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Tennessee's profile


1582 posts in 1267 days

#9 posted 05-26-2013 12:03 PM

Thanks for all your comments!

-- Paul, Tennessee,

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