A rain chain can be a fun do-it-yourself project with a decorative, useful result. Rain chains are attractive alternatives to traditional downspouts, and two common types are link chains and cups. It's relatively simple to make a rain chain out of copper tubing by forming links and attaching them to each other. Another easy way to make a rain chain is to drill holes in decorative cups and connect them using string, wire, or fine gauge chain.
One easy way to make a rain chain involves soft copper tubing, pruning shears, and cylindrical objects. The tubing can usually be found in the plumbing department of a home improvement store. Narrow tubing such as quarter inch (0.64 cm) size works well, and you will need about 55 feet (16.8 m) to complete an 8 to 9 foot (2.4 to 2.7 m) rain chain made of rings in two sizes. First, you need to cut off about 1 foot (0.3 m) and set it aside.
The next step to make a rain chain is forming the rings. To make large rings, use a cylindrical object such as a soup can and wrap the tubing around it to form the desired shape. Then cut the tubing using pruning shears, you may need to wiggle it a little to fully separate it. To create the small rings, use a cylinder like a spice container and follow the same steps. For every two large rings you make, you'll need one small one; another option is to use a variety of ring sizes and connect them in a random fashion.
Once you've formed all of your rings, you need to connect them to make a rain chain. Link the large rings into pairs intersecting in a perpendicular fashion; next use the small rings to join the pairs of large ones. If you've made a variety of sizes, connect them in any way you want. Then use the piece of tubing that you put aside to make a hanger for the chain shaped like a "U" with the ends extending outwards, and use it to hang your chain in the downspout opening of your gutter. When it rains, the water will travel downward along your chain to the ground.
Another easy way to make a rain chain is to construct one that is cup style. This can be made of matching or coordinating decorative cups or recycled containers such as bottles or cans. It also can be a great project for the kids. Simply drill or poke holes in the bottoms of the cups and attach them to each other using wire, string, or fine chain. The water will run from one cup to the next until it reaches the bottom.
Once you make a rain chain, you can use it as a downspout to guide water down out of your gutter system. Rain chains are often much prettier than a traditional downspout and can provide an enjoyable water feature for your garden. They also make a lovely, soothing sound as the water travels down the chain. A rain chain can also be used as an eco-friendly rainwater collection device by placing a bucket under the rain chain so that the water can be used on your plants.