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Project of the Week #302

Project of the Week Archive

How to Make a Fountain
Chris saw the idea for this fountain in a restaurant and asked Mom's help with the "plans":

What You Need:

  • Tiles
  • 24" terra flower box
  • 8' " copper pipe
  • 2 - 90 degree connectors
  • 1 "T" connector for " pipe
  • 2 - " caps
  • Drill driver
  • Drill bits
  • Safety glasses
  • Level/ straight edge
  • Gloves
  • Propane torch
  • Tape measure
  • Instant solder (flux/solder combo)(usually comes with a brush to apply it)
  • Pipe cleaner 4 in 1 brush
  • Spade bit
  • Scrap wood
  • Hole saw bit
  • Pliers
  • Utility knife
  • Marker
  • Water pump
  • Vinyl tiles
  • Flower box & tray
  • Pipe cutter
  • Sandpaper


While shopping for slate tiles, which the original was made of, we only found ceramic tile and self-stick vinyl. Both had a slate look and were available in several colors. Vinyl would be lighter weight, less expensive than slate or even ceramic, AND would be much easier to drill through. Once completed they would look just as good! You can do it either way though, just be sure to use a ceramic drill bit if, in fact, you use ceramic tiles or slate.

You can make the fountain any size you want- we based our fountain size around:

  • 24" plastic terra flower box as the base
  • To conceal pump - we used an 18" plastic terra flower box tray and turned it upside down to do the trick.

Decide on design and size for tiles:

  • 1 - 12" vinyl tile was shorter than what we wanted
  • 3 - 12" were way too high
  • 3 - 6" tiles looked just right, so we decided to cut the 12" tiles in 4 equal pieces and place them back to back so they are finished on both sides (use a utility knife to score the front side of the tile and then snap in two. Remove protective paper and secure them back to back)

Decide on design and size for copper pipe:

The copper pipe will form an upside-down "U," with the pump on one end, and a "T" connector with 2" pieces of pipe capped and connected to each side of the "T" to form "feet" at the other end. To stabilize the pipes a little more, drill holes in the tray - turn upside-down and place upright pipes through holes. (OR you can use small terracotta flowerpots turned upside-down instead of tray)

Cut all copper pieces from one 8' length of 1/2" copper pipe:

  • Uprights: 1 - 26" & 1 - 23" Length
  • "T": 2 - 2" pieces
  • 1 top cross piece: 13 "
You Will Also Need:
  • Two caps for " copper pipe
  • Two 90 degree connectors for " pipe
  • About a 2-3" piece of tubing to connect " copper pipe to pump (place tubing in VERY HOT water to help it stretch over the pipe easier) Tubing can be cut to exact size when fountain is assembled.
Determine size of pump:
  • The label on the pump will tell you how high and how much water will pump per minute. Obviously, the larger the fountain, the larger the pump.
You are now ready to make the fountain:

Cut pipe:
  • Using a pipe cutter, put edge of cutter wheel over marked measurement - be sure pipe is resting in the "V" part of the tool. Then just turn & tighten, turn & tighten, etc. until the pipe breaks off. Sand to remove any sharp burrs.
  • Do a dry run with all the cut pipe and connectors
  • Drill small holes in top cross piece (some on center/some slightly off center)
  • Sweat connections: first, clean outside of copper pipe and inside of connectors using a 4 in 1 tool. We used a lead free solder / flux combination - an all in one product. Don't touch the cleaned area as even body oil can keep the solder from forming a watertight seal. Apply flux/solder combination using a stiff bristled brush to the outside of the copper pipe and inside of the connector. Fit connector on pipe. Start propane torch and bring it towards pipe, just below where you have the solder / flux combo. Heat pipe - watch for the solder to start flowing, it will turn a silvery color. Let it cool.
  • That's how to sweat a connection - for this project, first sweat the "T" connection. The "T" connection consist of a cap, piece of straight pipe into each side of the top of the "T" and the 23" pipe goes in the body of the "T".
  • Drill two holes in plastic tray centered far enough apart for the copper pipes forming the "U" to fit through
  • Push "T" upright (23" pipe) through a hole in the tray and sweat the remainder of the connections.
  • After pipes have cooled, push the "tube" pipe through the other tray hole and connect tube to the pump. (Cut tube shorter if necessary)
  • Using a hole saw bit large enough for the plug to pass through, drill a hole in the middle of the back of the planter toward the top and thread cord through it.
  • Cut tile (see above)
  • Adhere cut tile back to back
  • Go around cut edges with marker to help give a finish to mimic the factory finish
  • Drill holes in tile - 2 holes at top and 2 at the bottom of two tiles and 2 holes at the top of the third tile.
TIP: Make a wood template for drilling the holes - use it as a guide. This is especially helpful if you are drilling into ceramic tile - the bit won't be as apt to "dance" on the slick surface.

  • Connect tile using copper wire and attach with wire to the upper copper pipe - we repeated for a second column of tiles.
You can add decorative rocks across the upside-down tray.

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