How to refurbish wind chimes. My wind chimes have seen better days. They have endured 10 years of cold Michigan winters & brutally hot Florida summers. It was time. So, here is how I refurbished them to look as good as new.
First, take lots of “before” photos.
The first thing I did was take pictures from every conceivable angle so I would know how to re-assemble it later.
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Cut new strings.
I carefully cut the strings attaching each piece and set them aside to use for measuring my new strings. Then I cut new pieces to slightly larger than the original pieces, to compensate for tying knots in the strings. This is the string I used.
Finally, I laid out all the pipes and wood pieces, too, so I would have the pieces together. I realized later that I didn’t take a picture of that process.
Tackling the wood pieces.
The wooden disks were quite weatherworn but still in relatively good shape. The clapper had a large split on the exposed top part, but the underside still looked good, so when I re-assembled it, I just flipped it over. You’ll see in a minute.
Sanding the wood.
What a difference it made to the wooden disks once my hubby sanded them! Before we sanded the clapper, my husband thought we could just fill the crack with wood putty, but after sanding, we decided it was in good enough shape that having it sealed with the polyurethane would be enough protection (especially since the crack would now be on the underside).
Clear satin polyurethane on the wood.
For the small clapper, I sat it on an upside down cat food can. That made it much easier to stain the edges and it dried nicely. Since the large disk had lots of holes for the strings, I poked a toothpick into a hole to lift up the disk as I worked on the sides.
The toothpick was also handy to make sure the stain didn’t clog up the holes with polyurethane. So, once I was done staining each side, I poked the toothpick into all the holes to make sure they were clear. This is the polyurethane we used.
Preparing to re-string the pipes.
After the disks were dry, it was time to re-assemble everything. The fun part! It was simply looking back at my photos and making sure I had all the correct pieces and that I strung them the correct way.
The string I used was nylon and it frayed very easily. So, I had to do two things. One, I had to have a needle with an eye big enough to thread the string through, and two, I had to stop the string from getting so frayed.
Creating the needle.
I decided it would be easiest to make my own needle. So, while digging around in our junk drawer, I found a very thin metal ring that a paper tag had hung on at some point. (I forgot to take a picture of it before I started opening it up. Sorry.) I used my needle-nosed pliers and straightened out the ring. Then I created an ALMOST closed eye at the end. I realized that if I made the eye too big, it wouldn’t fit in the tiny holes on the wood disks.
Here is my hand-crafted needle.
Prepping the string so it didn’t fray.
As soon as I cut the nylon string, it immediately started to fray. I give my hubby full credit for this awesome tip. He showed me that if you have a small candle, you can very briefly put the frayed end of the nylon string very close BUT NOT DIRECTLY INTO the flame. It will melt and seal the end of the string. It stays malleable for a few seconds afterward. So if it melts into a glob too big to fit through the hole in the disk, you can shape it with your fingers. If it hardened too quickly, you can just cut that little piece off and re-seal the string.
Re-stringing the pipes.
In looking at my “before” photos, I saw that for each pipe, the string was threaded down through the top of the big disk. One end of the string was then threaded all the way through the pipe. After I did that, I just tied the 2 ends of the string together and pushed the knot back inside the pipe, so it can’t be seen. Now the pipe is hung neatly with no knots showing at the top or the bottom.
With the longer pipes it became more awkward to hold the disk and thread the string, without getting all the pipe strings tangled up. I found that my large plastic pitcher was the right height to hold everything up while I strung the rest of the pipes.
Stringing the hanger.
Basically the hanger was 3 long pieces of string threaded through the wooden disk and gathered together at the top. They were kept together by another smaller piece of string. Then they were hooked onto a metal key ring, which is what the wind chimes were hung up with. One of my favorite tricks with metal key rings is to use needle-nosed pliers to hold them open instead of trying to stick my fingernail in the space (which hurts!). Using the pliers makes it really easy to put those keys on the ring, and it worked just as well for my strings.
Attach the clapper.
The clapper was easy to attach since it was just one piece of string. It was knotted on top of the wooden disk and then knotted underneath the clapper once through the clapper itself. Easy peasy.
Final step is attaching the decorative glass piece.
I think this glass disk with a dragonfly in the center is my favorite part of the wind chimes. It’s what gives the wind chimes their character. And since it is fairly heavy, it is the piece that I have reattached more times than any other part of these wind chimes! Thankfully, this is an easy piece to attach, too. Just like the clapper, it is simply one piece of string that is knotted to the knotted string already on the underside of the clapper. Then it’s threaded through the hole in the glass disk and tied securely. The only tricky part is to make sure the string is long enough so that the bottom of the pipes don’t hit the glass piece when moving. So double-check that before you hang them back up.
Hang them up and you are done!
The refurbished wind chimes.
To refurbish wind chimes is an inexpensive project.
The only costs involved were a $1.50 roll of nylon string, and a $6 can of Minwax fast-drying clear satin polyurethane. Everything else I already had: my needle-nosed pliers, a small paint brush, a candle, scissors, and leftover sandpaper.
This was an easy and inexpensive project and I think they turned out great. It didn’t take any difficult skills. And it only took an afternoon to do. Believe me, if I can do it, you can, too!
So here is your motivation! Take down those wind chimes that have seen better days, and refurbish them. In turn, they will give you many more years of sweet music.
I love fixing up my old outdoor decorations, and these were easy.
Here is another refurbished project my girls did on our ceramic toad.
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