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Old 01-30-2015, 09:22 AM
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brass tubing for wind chimes, which variety?

I'm kicking around the idea of making wind chimes. I've looked at McMaster Carr for brass tubing and see there are a few varieties and sizes. I'm at a loss as to which is the one Im looking for (or even if brass is it).
alloy 260?
allow 330?
Also I'm not sure of the size and thickness. I think I'm looking at 1/2 inch od or so, but the wall thickness may be more important.
ANy ideas on what I should go with to make a nice sound?

Cutting to proper length will be another question for another day
Old 01-30-2015, 09:56 AM
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
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I doubt it matters much, unless you have a super-duper tuned ear. My dad has a wind chime made of old copper plumbing pipe leftovers he had laying around, and it sounds just fine.
Old 02-02-2015, 03:19 PM
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Guess I'd like to bump this just once to see if I get any more replies.
I don't know enough about Brass types to make an informed decision.
Old 02-02-2015, 04:45 PM
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Alloy types would matter if you were machining or soldering. Sounds like you are just cutting to length and stringing them up.

I'd go with what's least expensive.
Old 02-02-2015, 07:03 PM
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Location: Dallas, TX
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The specific alloy is not that big a deal, although the general choice of metal matters. Brass will, I think, let you get away with somewhat thinner walls. (I prefer steel, but I like giant, deep-toned Bell of Doom chimes.) As you suspected, wall thickness is important--you need fairly thick walls relative to the diameter of the tube to get a rich sound. From what I've read, a thickness of 16 gauge to 12 gauge (~.06 inch to .1 inch) will probably serve for the diameter you're looking at.

Also important is locating the proper attachment points. If you attach the supporting line to the chime at the wrong point, it will damp out the sound. According to this site by someone who has done the math, you should attach your line at (0.221 * tube length) from the end of the tube. (The site also shows the calculations for lengths corresponding to various frequencies.)
Old 02-02-2015, 08:29 PM
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I hadn't thought about steel, and would consider it. I want it to sound nice so I'm not stuck on brass... I just assumed that would be good.

Are you talking stainless steel? So it won't corrode? Solid bars, not hollow?
Old 02-02-2015, 08:50 PM
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Can brass tube be cold drawn or hot drawn?
Cold would probably ring better.
Old 02-02-2015, 09:16 PM
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No, hollow tubes. Solid chimes can be pretty, but they're almost always tiny, high-pitched things. Large solid chimes would probably be prohibitively heavy.

Stainless is nice, but relatively expensive--8 feet of your 1/2" OD, 0.1" wall pipe in stainless would be $67.04 from Metals Depot. Galvanized steel can work, or you can get plain steel pipe powder coated, which provides corrosion resistance and a choice of colors.

Aluminum can work, but I've never much cared for the sound of aluminum chimes. I can't define the difference very well, but they sound duller to me than steel.

Copper is another option. It sounds fine in smaller chimes and corrosion just gives it a nice patina, but it's obviously more delicate.

My best suggestion for finding the material that appeals to you is to take a wooden striker of some kind (a wooden spoon or something), go to a hardware store, and tap on various types of pipe. Hold up a short piece (about 1/5th of the way from the end as noted in my previous post) and rap it lightly. Figure out what you like best, and go from there.

ETA: Disclaimer--I have not actually made any windchimes myself, just listened to a lot and done some research about making them.

Last edited by Balance; 02-02-2015 at 09:19 PM.
Old 02-02-2015, 09:23 PM
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I hope your neighbors aren't within hearing distance. Wind chimes can be annoying as hell.
Old 02-02-2015, 10:54 PM
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For the most sustaining tones, you want the hardest "tempers" you can find. Generally, you should be able to find the Full Hard (H05) temper. Beyond that, they go higher, with extra hard, and even spring tempers (which go up to H14, super spring temper), but these may not be available in tubes. The higher the "temper" the less internal dampening will occur. A "truer" tone will be obtained with the most consistent dimensions, again steering you toward the cold drawn material. I think I'd look at the 260 brass in the Full Hard temper, if you can get it, over the 330.

Last edited by excavating (for a mind); 02-02-2015 at 10:59 PM.
Old 02-03-2015, 05:40 AM
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Before you do all this: please, please, please consider the effects on your neighbors.
Old 02-03-2015, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by chappachula View Post
Before you do all this: please, please, please consider the effects on your neighbors.
For all of you concerned and probably annoyed by wind chimes:
If I build them, these are for my mom (see
She lives very far from neighbors, probably a mile from the closest one. Don't know if she will be annoyed, but then if she is, she can just not put them up.
Old 02-03-2015, 08:46 AM
Join Date: Aug 2001
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Is there some place near you that sells them? I think I'd look at what they have to get a sense of the material, diameter and length. Then it should be simple enough to replicate what you observed.

If, like you say, your mom is annoyed by chimes in general, she can always hang them on a gate to only sound if someone is coming or going.

Last edited by lieu; 02-03-2015 at 08:47 AM.
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