Tubular Bells - well kind of...

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Project by Brit posted 11-17-2013 03:44 PM 3434 views 1 time favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Those of you who follow my blog will remember that every year my wife and some other volunteers organize a local charity Christmas carnival. Well this year the theme is ‘Showtime’ and the local high school in conjunction with my wife’s firm of solicitors are putting a float in the procession to represent the show Stomp. For those of you who don’t know, Stomp is basically a group of percussionists who make music out of household objects. Go and see them if you have the chance.

So anyhow, over the last few months my wife has been collecting all kinds of junk that could be used to make music. Pots and pans, kitchen sinks, radiators, dustbins, oil drums, wheels, car doors, etc. You name it and it has turned up in my back garden.

Well I came home one Friday and couldn’t help discerning that ‘her indoors’ was being extraordinarily nice to me. “She’s after something” I thought, but since her being nice to me is such a rare event, I decided to say nothing and milk it for as long as possible. Finally, she came out with it. The conversation went something like this:

Wife:I want you to make me some tubular bells.

Me:You’re ‘avin’ a laugh luv. Tubular bells? What am I gonna make those out of?

Wife:I pulled four 2×4s out of a skip on my way home from work and they’re in the car. They’re only a prop, so they don’t have to actually work.

Me:Don’t worry, they won’t.

Wife:And they’ve got to look ‘street’ – like they were thrown together.

Me:Don’t worry, they will.

Wife:Have a think about it and see what you can come up with.

Me:If I must.

The next day, I dragged the 2×4s out of her car and removed all the nails. Sighting down their length my heart sank.
  • Warped – Yes
  • Bowed – Yes
  • Crook – Yes
  • Twist – Yes
  • Checking – Yes
  • Lumps missing – Yes

“There was a reason these were in the skip”, I thought.

I took the worst of it out with a portable electric planer whilst thinking what the hell I was going to do with this crap.

I’m making your favourite for dinner tonight?” smiled the wife.
You’d better be” I mumbled.
Have you come up with any ideas yet? By the way, it needs to be flat-packed, so I can get it in the car.
Fine”, says I hoping this was not going to be one of those ever changing spousal design briefs.

So with a saw-saw here and a chop-chop there, here a saw, there a chop, everywhere a saw chop, this is what I managed to cobble together after getting the royal approval on the design.

Now here’s the technical bit: M & T joints, loose-wedged M & Ts and halving joints. The screws are not part of the joinery, they are only there to stop the crappy pine splitting during assembly. The cans were drilled and slid onto aluminium tubing to keep them aligned. I tapped the ends of the tubing so I could screw in some eyelets. They are secured to the bottom rail with fishing line to prevent them blowing around too much during the procession.

She’s happy, I’m glad to see the back of it and we’re both SICK TO DEATH OF HEINZ BAKED BEANS!!!

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

20 comments so far

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 3115 days

#1 posted 11-17-2013 03:55 PM

This is a cool looking project Andy. Really nice work on it! The other evening I had a chance to check this out and thought of you. Hope this link works.

Just look for the ”Swinging Saw Vise” episode on that links page and you should be able to see it.

Good to see your latest creation, be well!

-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23398 posts in 3618 days

#2 posted 11-17-2013 04:03 PM

Hey, it came out nice looking and if she is happy, that’s all that matters!!!!!!

You ate all the beans in those cans???? I counted 52!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View AnthonyReed's profile


10105 posts in 2953 days

#3 posted 11-17-2013 04:04 PM

Your tales are always a joy to read. Your work, even when in the most grim parameters, is top notch.

Thanks for sharing Andy.

-- ~Tony

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3380 days

#4 posted 11-17-2013 04:28 PM

That’s very creative and looks like it has the makings of a fun project for anyone. I bet your wife loves how it turned out and hope the Christmas carnival goes well.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View terryR's profile


7539 posts in 2821 days

#5 posted 11-17-2013 04:43 PM

Great work, Andy! You continue to entertain with wifey discussions, and influence my chores on the farm!

Why did I choose to build hen nesting boxes all with hand tools and rabbet joints? Because that’s how Andy would do it! LOL. It turns a chore into woodworking.

Hope the Carnival goes well! It sure would be bland without YOUR touch each year!

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View ShaneA's profile


7084 posts in 3111 days

#6 posted 11-17-2013 04:50 PM

Is it weird that I read your post with an English accent in my mind? Looks like you did a great job. You better be careful, it won’t be long till she thinks you can do anything.

View Brit's profile


7801 posts in 3356 days

#7 posted 11-17-2013 05:43 PM

Joe – Thanks for the link. I’ve seen a vise like that elsewhere. Quite a clever design.

Jim – Thanks. actually they weren’t all baked beans. I think there was some soup in there too.

Tony – Cheers buddy.

Charles - It was quite fun really. I’m a woodworker and I got to work some free wood so I musn’t complain.

Terry – Thanks. My contribution to the carnival is tiny in comparison to that of my wife and others. She literally gives all her free time from January to December to make the day a success. Each year they have to raise all the sponsorship for every single little thing. Road signs, advertising, lighting, marquees. She begs, steals and borrows and each year it gets bigger and better.

Shane – It is not at all weird that you read with an English accent. I do it all the time. :o)

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View theoldfart's profile (online now)


10908 posts in 2964 days

#8 posted 11-17-2013 05:49 PM

Andy, you and your wife personify paying it forward. And I do the same as Shane, your stuff is always read with a bit o’ cockney (read John Cleese) in my mind.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16191 posts in 3131 days

#9 posted 11-17-2013 05:58 PM

Love the storytelling, Andy. And very nice work. Glad The Royal Highness approves, too. :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View stefang's profile


16752 posts in 3847 days

#10 posted 11-17-2013 07:07 PM

I thought this project looked really good the first time I looked at it, but after reading about the condition of the raw materials it looks even better and not really ‘thrown together’. The story was good too. It’s not always so easy to keep or wive’s happy, but this project should do the trick.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View KnotCurser's profile


2032 posts in 3581 days

#11 posted 11-17-2013 08:28 PM

Fine project and even better story to go along with it!


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: [email protected] /

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3369 days

#12 posted 11-17-2013 08:35 PM

Was the dinner worth it?



-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View doubleDD's profile


8661 posts in 2556 days

#13 posted 11-17-2013 09:25 PM

It sure came out looking nice. I would like to hear those bells ring.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Dave's profile


11434 posts in 3353 days

#14 posted 11-17-2013 09:42 PM

Andy you aint right.
But the project is!

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Doe's profile


1428 posts in 3343 days

#15 posted 11-17-2013 10:18 PM

I agree with Mike—it looks good. You should get bonus points for this.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

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