Make It! A Rain Chain

Make It! A Rain Chain

In our second original outdoor decor project for this month, we're going to make a rain chain! Why? Because they've become a very popular alternative to the utilitarian downspout as a way to direct rain from your gutters to the ground. Search 'rain chain' on the google and you'll see that besides being popular, they can be very expensive. My DIY alternative, however, can be assembled in about an hour and costs around 30 bucks.   

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NOTE: The length from your eave to the ground will determine the exact length of your chain as well as how many buckets you'll need. My rain chain needed to be 8' long to reach from downspout to ground, thus the 8' of chain in the materials list.

created at: 06/06/2011

Step 1: Drill 1/2" holes in the center of each bucket and de-burr as necessary with the round file. 

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Step 2: Put an S hook on the handles of the buckets; use pliers to close the side around the handle.

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Step 3: Thread the buckets onto the chain (through the holes you drilled in step 1), spacing them equally apart. (It's helpful if you can hang the chain while you do this. I hung mine from a rafter in the garage.)

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Step 4: Crimp the S hooks (that you installed in step 2) into place through the individual links in the chain, spacing the buckets evenly down the entire length of the chain.

Step 5: Install the aluminum downspout outlet into the hole in the gutter; put a bead of caulk around the lip of the outlet to secure it in place.

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Step 6: To hang the rain chain, I used a 3 1/2" eye hook that I screwed into the fascia board of my garden shed; I then crimped on an S-hook to the top of the chain and fed it through the aluminum downspout outlet we installed in step 5. Then I simply crimped the S-hook onto the eye hook.

created at: 06/06/2011

Step 7: Stand back and admire your handiwork and wait for a rainfall!

P.S. You'll want to check your buckets periodically throughout the season for debris that might impede the proper funneling of the rain.

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Ron on Oct 23, 2015:

Just put up at my mini horse barn in Winston Salem and mid October it will be 78 and sunny. Not that I like rain but kinda looking forward to watching them in action, which should be in a week. FYI, I went to Lowes for all the materials to include buckets. Thanks for you ideas, my Minis should love it.

Janet on Jun 29, 2015:

I just purchased a portion of a gutter system since my patio does not have one.   To keep debris out of that portion of the gutter, place window screen over the top of the down spout.  It should help tremendously.  I purchased my galvanized buckets at Hobby Lobby (most craft stores carry them).  I would like to know where I can purchase the copper pieces at a cheaper price.  I live in a small town in New Mexico.  I am very limited on where I can buy these items. 

Corey in Michigan on Apr 27, 2015:

Awesome DIT article, I plan on using little white buckets from our wedding reception to build this. Found white chain at ACE to match. I plan on making a large hole in them so debris can flow and get caught on my rain barrels screen. More people should use rain barrels with these chains :)

Judy on Feb 10, 2015:

I saw a rain chain made out of bamboo cups.  As the upper one filled, it tipped over into the next one.  Made a clicking noise as they tipped over, then turned upright and filled again.  If anybody has instructions, I'd love that one.

Maggie on Jun 23, 2014:

Great idea!  Found buckets at ACMoore.  The ones I used are a little smaller and used a bigger chain.  Made a much larger hole in the buckets to accomodate the larger chain and allow as much water to pass through as possible.  Instead of using the S hooks, just unbent the handle and slipped it through the chain links and rebent it back.  Also since I love the look of copper, I used a spray paint in copper and painted all the buckets.  The chain was already a dark bronzed color so they go together well.   Now just waiting for some rain.

Barbara on Apr 30, 2014:

The rain chain you pictured looked good from the side but there was no place for the water to flow down.  My Rain chains have 1.5-2.5 inch opening where you have a drilled hole 1/2 inch?  There are times when the rain comes down so rapidly that it overflows the capacity of my rain chains to channel the water down.  I think that the bottoms of your little buckets should be totally removed to make your cute rain chain actually function.

Anonymous on Apr 30, 2014:

I attached  a black plastic hose to my shepherd hook (for plants) attached my

rain chain from the top hook. Sat a tub below the chain, with a circulating pump and made a fountain. 

DIY Maven on May 29, 2013:

That's great, Lori!

Lori on May 29, 2013:

Thank you for these directions. They were exactly what I was looking for. I bought small red, white, and blue buckets that had citronella candles in, popped the candles out, drilled the holes, used an old dog chain, eye hook, s-hooks, etc. Then I took down the downspout and hung the rain chain. Voila!!! Exactly what I was looking for. It only cost me a couple hours and appx $20.

Brenda on Mar 06, 2013:

I love this I got one a year ago and payed over $200 I have to try this I've always wanted one more but did not want to pay that much for one . Thanks

Karen B. on Feb 25, 2013:

I love your plan, and will be going to the local hardware store and purchase these items so that I can make one for myself.


Anonymous on Jan 17, 2013:

I looked up rain chains online as I've always wanted one but wow they are expensive! but made out of copper. I was very happy to see your project and thanks for sharing! I can not wait to try to make one too! From what I've read/seen you should anchor it to the ground - maybe into a pot of gravel - so the wind doesn't blow it around. You could also direct it into a pot with a pipe underneath leading any excess water away from the foundation of your house.

Barbara on Aug 13, 2012:

I have had rain chains for a number of years.  Here are some observations:  You will have to be able to clean the organic debris from the roof that accumulates on the chains or they will begin to splatter instead of having the rain run down from one "cup" to the next.  Open gutters or edge of house rain chains would be really prone to collect this debris unless there were no trees anywhere around.  They make a catch basin that attaches to the black plastic corregated drain pipes.  The bottom of the rain chain can be tethered to the buried basin grating for a great finished look.  The grating can be covered with gravel, etc and the drain pipe direct water away from the foundation.





Gina on Aug 07, 2012:

Just finished making mine!  Can't wait for hubby to come home and hang it for me.  Found buckets at WalMart for $1.97 each!  Didn't need to drill  hole in bottom. (I don't have a drill!). Made a hole and widen it with needle nose pliers! I also don't have a gutter system.  I am just going to hang it in a corner of the roof where the water runs off!  Cute and very inexpensive to make!!

Pat on Aug 03, 2012:

Where did you get the galvanized buckets? Have looked online and ones are either too small or too large..


Anonymous on Jul 20, 2012:

why couldn't u hang them from a sheppard's hook in the yard or your flower beds?

Allison on Jul 14, 2012:

In the desert southwest, where we have very few gutter systems, we use our rain chains to direct water into catch basins, such as rain barrels, large pottery urns, and sistern systems. These catch basins are often used in Japan as well for the same reasons. You could use such to keep the water from your foundations, but you will have to manually or create a system to empty them into your garden, and use mosquito repellant biscuits, too.

DIY Maven on Jun 26, 2012:

@Diane--Glad you found it! 

DIANE on Jun 26, 2012:

I just love this . I saw this in the store and on tv and I thought I have to have this........But so much money........I look on Pin it and I saw MAKE A RAIN CHAIN,I was so happy to see this. So now I can make my own and save lots of money and have fun. And my neighbors will want to have one now. Such a great idea.....THANKS


Erin @ The Great Indoors on Jun 20, 2012:

Too bad I don't have a gutter system to install this (although reading through the comments it looks like we could work around that).  But I still love the look of it!

P.S.  Came over from Dollar Store Crafts; not sure how I missed this post the first time last summer, since I subscribe to Curbly via Google Reader.  Who knows!

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