This is kind of an old project now but it’s a cool one. I’m the percussion instructor for a very good marching band. This year for our show we needed to use three chimes (metal tubes you hit with a hammer and sound like church bells). I decided to make a stand for these chimes. It had to be cheap and hold up to a lot of abuse traveling to competitions. This is what I came up with.
First of All…
Let me just say that if you haven’t discovered the clearance lumber section at your local Home Depot, stop reading this and go check it out. I’ll wait here. Back? Isn’t it great?! Lots of pretty decent pieces of wood (especially if you can mill them down at home) and they’re 70% off! You can even find things like pegboard and melamine in there. I’ve learned that summer seems to be the best time to find good pieces.
My first step was to design the stand. I wanted to make sure that it was sturdy and functional. Plus the marching band show theme this year was the Black Death (I know, uplifting), so I wanted to make it look kind of creepy and vaguely threatening. I decided to give it sort of a guillotine look. I measured out how wide I would need it to be to hold three chimes and how tall it would be to hold the longest chime at an appropriate playing height. I also designed it with two flat pieces across the back. These pieces prevented the chimes from moving backward when struck and also helped keep the whole thing stable during transport.
I made the horizontal feet for it firs and built my way up from there. To give it as much strength as possible I created what is basically a mortise and tenon joint to help the screws that would hold it together. I used my table saw and miter gauge to cut halfway through each foot for a few inches, leaving a notch in each foot. This took several passes with my table saw blade. It would have been much faster with a dado stack but I don’t have one.
After the feet were notched out, I cut the legs to fit. I had already ripped them to the final size I wanted but the tenon that would go in the notches needed to be smaller so that I had a good shoulder at the joint. I designed this joint to stick out on the sides instead of being flush. The idea was to make the base as wide and stable as I could. I cut the shoulders off with a jig saw and used pocket screws to help hold everything in place.
After the legs were together, I put on the top horizontal support that the chimes would be suspended from. This would have three hooks in it. It was not going to have to support a ton of weight but it would have to hold up to being constantly moved as well as the physical beating of striking it to play the instrument. I attached this with pocket screws as well to hide as much of the construction as possible. I also added a 45 degree support and a horizontal spacer to the legs to help keep everything stable. If I were to build this again, I would have added a second 45 degree support to the back as well to make it extra secure.
It’s important to know that during this whole project your lumber should be as square as possible. If it’s warped or twisted it makes it difficult to keep the stand straight and it could be off-balance when played.
Lastly I added the horizontal braces across the middle to keep the chimes stable both during transport and while played. I added two strips of foam window seal material to each brace to cushion the impact of the chimes. The three clothesline hooks across the top and some black fabric finished the stand off and we were ready for the road.
This chime stand was a fun way for me to combine my hobbies of music and woodworking. It held up the whole season and is still being used now by the high school band.
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Thanks for reading!