How to design large wind chimes
There are updates on my “How to” page that are relevant to this page..
Please visit to see new information on how to make large wind chimes at home.
When I am making wind chimes, specifically large wind chimes, there are some things you can not do, there are things you can “get away with” when building smaller wind chimes that simply can not be done when making the extra large wind chimes or giant size wind chimes. The effects of gravity over long periods of time, wind loads, time itself, weights and mass, they all are critical factors and when added together, those factors play into the life span and durability of any outdoor wind chimes. The wind chime parts alone (the hardware, the wind chime tubes) are all upgraded to some degree.
I live on the west coast of Florida about 300 yards from the Gulf of Mexico as you can see on the map I have posted on my contact page, and we DO get some awesome storms here. I absolutely must build these extreme wind chimes to a higher standard than the smaller wind chimes that you see everywhere else. The last thing I need or want to do during or after a storm rolls through is to go out in the yard and pick up wind chime parts and pieces.
This is the finished large wind chime from my home page.
Large wind chimes need to be well thought out and I intend to help you out with this. How large do you want to build wind chimes? How large is your tree? How large is your yard or patio? When you are considering garden art or yard art, large wind chimes is a really good idea but lets think this through here a little bit.
On the subject of how to make wind chimes, large ones. Some of the wind chime parts need to be upgraded in strength from what would normally be used on smaller novelty type wind chimes. That is why when it comes to wind chime ideas and yard art ideas, I like to go large when making wind chimes.
Considerations – From the top and going down the wind chime.
The halo – I use a 24 inch halo for several reasons and I typically go with a four chime design. Why the large 24 inch halo? I go with that size diameter strictly for pipe separation. Why? Because during a storm you will have “pipe on pipe” contact and the chimes will end up beating the hell out of each other therefor destroying your large wind chime. In all actuality, 24 inches IS a small halo. Small diameter halos are problematic if you have ever hung any wind chime outdoors in the yard. So do not be shy about going large in designing your halo, in fact a 30 inch or 36 in halo my be desirable depending what you want to build. Also, depending on how many chimes you wish to hang (4-5-6 chimes) you SHOULD have a corresponding down chain coming from the spring-link to the approximate location of where you are hanging the chime from on the halo, the halo is just a “spreader” it is not a load bearing platform. Do not make the halo do things it is not supposed to do, simple. All of my large wind chimes halos are 3/4 in plywood and are painted with oil based Rustoleum. Try to use chain when ever possible for the halo and for hanging the chimes. I have used braided cord to hang the chimes and I have been very lucky but I have also had two failures in five years. Yes, it will work for years, but lets do this as well as we can. I recommend using chain all day.
The wind chimes tubes – what metals are best? what sizes are best? what wall thickness is best? what diameters are best? what lengths are best?
What metal is best for wind chime tubes? This is strictly a matter of OPINION..!! What I like, you may hate. What you like, I may not like. How are you going to know unless you build the same chime out of two different metals and test them side by side? And still at the end of the day it again goes back to a matter of OPINION. Everybody likes different things and peoples taste in wind chimes vary WIDELY. What do I suggest? If you have a favorite metal, use that and quit stressing over what sounds better. Seriously, the differences in the metals and their tones is minimal at best.
What sizes are best for wind chime tubes? Personally, I use nothing smaller than 2 inch pipe with a 16 gauge wall thickness and nothing shorter than 6 feet (two meters, 72 inches) What is better? Again we go back to opinion and tastes, what do you want? Pipe diameter, pipe wall thickness, and pipe length are all factors that play into tone and sound. There are only two rules of thumb, why? because you only have two thumbs! (that was funny) ok, here are the basics of wind chime tubes and their sound. Longer equals deeper tone than shorter wind chime tubes. Larger diameter equals deeper tones than smaller diameter tubes. Wall thickness, seems to have little bearing on how deep the tone is but is does have a relation to how “rich” the tone is, if you can wrap your head around that concept.
Tuning = a big waste of time in my opinion. I have been building these large wind chimes since 2007 to now (2013) and I have had exactly two people ask about tuning. They were obsessed with what the specific notes were exactly and what the cords were. It is only a cord if all the notes are played AT THE SAME TIME!!! And that is not going to happen, ever. Who cares? it’s a wind chime and the notes and tones are random… Some people can not deal with that. Seriously, tuning is not important to me. Go find something else to stress over like world hunger. These are freaking wind chimes, not rocket surgery. Large wind chimes are musical wind instruments, they are not a harp, or a piano. Yes it IS possible to tune a wind chime but at the end of the day, what is your gain for your effort? I had a client on the phone the other day, he was really uptight about tuning, I played one of my chimes for him over the phone, he loved it, and I asked him, “what notes were those I just played” and I asked, what cord was that? And he didn’t have an answer, he could only guess. So much for your musical background. I have some experience in music as well but I do not obsess over shit that is not important. Get over yourself. Quit being so uptight and anal about everything and quit trying to control the world, you can’t and you are making your life, and those around you, miserable. LEARN how to relax. Learn a Yoga practice. Chill and let the world be the world.
The hammer “platter” – use solid wood when possible, plywood is ok, solid wood is better. Design the diameter of the platter so that, on a zero wind day, the platter is approximately 2 inches away from any chime at any time. Why? Because to get wind chimes of this size to ring out, you need to slap the hell out of them with the action applied from the wind sail. One more point, I use a 4 ounce pyramid fishing sinker to counter balance the platter so it will sit level and strike the wind chime tubes with the most powerful strike possible.
The wind sail – I use a 24 inch diameter 1/2 inch thick plywood. I drill the hole for hanging off center for a reason, this tilts the wind sail and it cuts down on the tendency to spin and not do anything BUT spin. When I drill it off center, it actually catches the wind and spin is greatly reduced. Ever notice why so many people call them spinners? Because some anal-retentive perfectionist decided looks were more important than function.
I will be back from time to time to update and fine tune this page. If you have any questions or if something is not clear to you, please go to my contact page and hollar at me. Send me an email or text THEN call me after I respond back with a text message. I really do seriously want to help you with you wind chime project and I want to help you to avoid making some of the mistakes I have made therefor saving you some time and frustration. This is supposed to be fun!