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How to Make A Wind Chime with Keys

Updated on June 18, 2013

I love wind chimes. They offer a peaceful tinkling sound to accompany my porch time. As usual though, I always try to find a way to do it myself. My favorite kind are the ones with the pipes and a wooden circle in the middle. Of course, those also seem to be the most expensive. I have not ventured into making one of these yet, but I have come up with another kind that offers a nice sound. Sometimes a wind chime can be so harsh and loud, which is awfully irritating. This version can be made with what you more than likely already have in your home, or with very minimal purchases at the store.

Getting Started

Finding what you need to make a wind chime might can be challenging when you first start out. I will tell you the basics and then in the next section elaborate on types and options to try.

  1. Base or Body of the wind chime. Basically this is the "thing" that all other things will hang off of. What you want to look for is an item that is sturdy and will hold up to either weight being hung on it, or holes being drilled/punched in it. I used old food cans (i.e. beans, fruit, tuna, vegetables, etc). If you are going to use a can, remove the paper and remove both top and bottom "lids" and wash thoroughly.
  2. Tinkling Objects to hang off the Base/Body. This can be a challenging step as things you think will make a great sound -- don't. And things you don't expect to make a great sound -- maybe they do. Trial and error are your go to with this one.
  3. String/Twine/Wire/Fishing Line. In short -- hanging implement of your choice. My recommendations are to not use all cotton thread or string, this will not hold up to the elements for long.
  4. Outdoor Paint. If you like the rustic rusted look, then ignore this step for the Body of your wind chime.

Using two straight sticks wrapped with vine for the more adventurous.
Using two straight sticks wrapped with vine for the more adventurous.

Tips before starting construction

  • You can use a lot of things for the body of the chime, depending on the placement of your wind chime or desired look. A heavy gauge plastic bottle would work as well and would be relatively weatherproof. The plastic lids to cans are another option. You could use a branch, grapevine twisted together into sort of a mini wreath, an slice of a tree stump with the center hollowed out, the rim of a broken flower pot, a yogurt container with the bottom cut away, an old sturdy bracelet, a really big washer, a metal coat hanger, small picture frame either round or square etc. The list goes on and on. I do not recommend any items made from paper or very thin plastic or metal. Any items from paper, even if coated in glue or resin will not hold up to the elements for very long. Extremely thin plastic and metal is very sharp such as that of a 2 liter bottle of pop, or a soda can.
  • Here are a few ideas for tinkling items: Keys -- awesome. Washers and heavy bolts -- awesome thicker sound. Nails, screws and nuts -- not so much. Glass and ceramic-- beautiful tinkling. Metal pipe or bamboo are good too. (This can quickly become a school lesson for homeschooling moms and dads.) The nails and screws do not make a good sound because there simply isn't enough metal and not enough density to vibrate well. With the washers it will be trial and error, some work and some don't. Usually the thicker the washer the better the sound.
  • You want to use a string/thread that contains plastic or vinyl or some other sort of lovely man-made non-biodegradable stuff, or fishing line. I found a polyester/vinyl cord/thread at my craft store that works very well. I discovered when I made my children made their wind chimes that a heavier gauge thread is not a good idea. The weight of the item hanging at the end must be greater than that of the thread or the wind chime just sits there with no sound being made.
  • For more decorative ideas to add to your windchime before you begin construction visit my other Hub:

Doing this is much easier than drilling holes in glass pieces.
Doing this is much easier than drilling holes in glass pieces.

Building your Windchime

The process of building your wind chime is relatively straightforward, so this next part should be fairly easy. But lets go through it step by step just to be sure.

  1. If you are using a can or some other cylindrical object you will need to drill/punch holes in it. If you are using a bracelet, branch, or something else that could easily have string tied around it, then holes are not necessary. Decide before hand how many holes you want to have and measure out the spacing if you so choose. I did not, and you can't tell.
    ~~ If drilling a metal can, make sure you do this outside on some sort of table, railing or other surface that allows the metal shavings to not accumulate on you. Do not do this on a windy day either. The metal shavings more than likely will not be that fine, but when working with metal like this, no chances should be taken. Metal in the eyes or on your skin can be very irritating. And you most definitely do not want those suckers stuck in your clothes either.
  2. After drilling the holes you may need to get a file and smooth your edges, especially if it is metal. I took a pair of pliers and "smooshed" the sharp edges down and this worked well too.
    ~~ Now is the time to paint your can if you are going to. Or varnish your wood.
  3. Tie a long "string" through each hole. I used a slipknot so that the weight of the item hung would always pull the knot tight and not pull against it and potentially untie it.
  4. Determine how far you want each item to hang and tie it on. Again I used the slip knot so the weight continually holds the knot tight, but if you know of a better one, use it.
    ~~ Make sure each item hits the item next to it. I liked the spiral look (pictured above)so I started with a short cord, and each one after that was hung just a little bit longer than the last.
  5. Use an old key ring, or washer to tie to the top to hang your wind chime.

Final Tidbits

The picture at the beginning of this hub shows a wind chime made out of keys and glass. I drilled holes in those pieces of glass - a process I do not recommend. It would be far easier to find the right shapes of glass and wrap them with a thin metal wire or fishing line and suspend them that way.

To get the holes in those small pieces of glass, I had to use a Dremel with a diamond bit. I had to continually stop and dip the bit in water and keep the hole I was drilling wet as well. The first bit I broke, I did not do these two things and it snapped within 3 minutes. The heat made the bit far too brittle and it couldn't withstand even the slightest movement. Even after using the water to keep things cool, I still snapped two more bits. I was able to finish drilling my holes, but at the cost of some very expensive tools.

This is a project that children can do.

I put a spot of super glue on each knot just to give it a little extra weatherproofing and durability.

Experiment with different weight strings and different weight hanging items. Alternate heavy and light string, alternate heavy and light objects. Have fun with it.

You can add small glass or crystal beads to the strings before you tie on the hanging object if you want a little extra sparkle. I did not have any glass for one I made for a friend, so I put beads on the string just before I tied on the keys. It add a very nice touch.

You can paint both the body of the chime and the hanging objects for added splashes of color.


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    • LopezUnleashed profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thank you for your feedback BlondLogic. I wish you could enjoy the beautiful sounds of a windchime more, it really is relaxing. Glad you found my hub to be easy to use and havin good pictures, I try hard to include pictures that are helpful.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      5 years ago from Brazil

      I don't have wind chimes where I live because we live in a constant strong wind. However, when I stayed at my friend's house, whose is much more sheltered, I listened to them all night. She had wooden ones. What a beautiful sound! It reminded me how much I miss hearing them.

      Your explanation and pictures are fantastic. I will share this one definitely.

    • LopezUnleashed profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      You are very welcome. It was fun, enjoy! Let us know how it goes.

    • Bonsie007 profile image


      6 years ago

      Very cool hub! I love wind chimes as well. I'm going to give this a whirl. Thanks for posting!


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