How to Make Percussion Chimes

By Avery Martin

Making percussion chimes is a project that requires a high level of craftsmanship. The chimes will have to be cut, sanded and affixed to a metal or wooden bar in order for the instrument to be completed and struck by a percussionist. Because chimes are extremely expensive instruments, learning to make your own can save you a great deal of money. You also have the advantage of tuning each chime to a specific frequency. This makes it possible to create your own, custom-made chimes.

Learn how to use a pipe cutter. Take the pipe cutter and place the pipe inside the groove. Adjust the cutter so that the pipe is flush with the inside of the pipe cutter's blade. Use the wheel on the cutter to cut a little deeper into the pipe on each revolution, until the end of pipe falls off.

Once the metal pipe has been cut, use the triangular burring tool to even the edges of the pipe and remove any sharp edges. Insert the end of the tool into the pipe and twist in a circle until the end of the pipe is smooth.

Cut the pipes to the appropriate dimensions to create evenly tuned pitches. To make a standard pentatonic (five-note) wind chime, cut the pipes to 15 15/16 inches, 15 inches, 13 5/8 inches, 12 7/8 inches and 12 inches.

Clamp a pipe into a secure vise. Drill through the top of the pipe, approximately one-half inch from the top of the pipe. Repeat with the other pipes.

Thread a piece of string 3 inches long through each of the newly created chimes. Attach the chimes to a metal or wooden bar by tying them to the bar 1 inch apart from each other.

Tip

Use a metal file to trim the length of the pipes if the pitches are not exactly the way you want them. Shave away a small portion of the end of the chime little by little until you are able to achieve the proper pitches.

Use a piano or other device that replicates pitch to aid in tuning your chimes.

Warning

Wear goggles and gloves while cutting and drilling pipe and use extreme caution to avoid hurting yourself.

About the Author

Avery Martin holds a Bachelor of Music in opera performance and a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian studies. As a professional writer, she has written for Education.com, Samsung and IBM. Martin contributed English translations for a collection of Japanese poems by Misuzu Kaneko. She has worked as an educator in Japan, and she runs a private voice studio out of her home. She writes about education, music and travel.