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How To Make a Tabletop Fountain

If there's no room for a water garden outside, bring the tranquility of falling water inside with an indoor water feature. This tabletop water feature is made from clay pots and bamboo.

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bring tranquility of falling water inside

Step 1: Assemble the Pieces

For this project, DIY used a large ceramic bowl for the basic fountain container (Image 1). The water will be pumped from the main container up through a large hollow bamboo tube, where it will spill out into a smaller ceramic overflow container (Image 2). The water flowing over from the smaller container into the larger one will create a dramatic effect and pleasing sound. Other materials required include a submersible pump, flexible tubing, smaller pieces of bamboo, thin-gauge wire, raffia and some decorative river rocks (Image 3). These materials are available at most home improvement centers, and the materials we used for this project cost less than $100. It's important to use ceramic containers that have been glazed so that the water won't seep through. And it's best to look for containers that don't have drainage holes in the bottom. If the bowls you choose do have holes in the bottom, mix some fast setting epoxy to fill and seal each hole using a plastic utensil or putty knife (Image 4). Allow the epoxy to cure according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 2: Cut the Bamboo

Determine how high you want the larger bamboo pole to be and cut with a saw to the length desired. Our large bamboo piece is about 3 inches in diameter and about 3 feet in length. Using a hole saw of the appropriate size, drill a hole into the larger piece of bamboo to fit a piece of bamboo that is smaller in diameter. (In this example, the hole-saw was 1-1/2 inches in diameter.) The smaller piece of bamboo will serve as the spout. Though the water will be carried inside the bamboo through the flexible tubing, for aesthetics it's best if the bamboo pieces fit together snugly. Use a pocket knife to whittle down the end of the smaller piece to achieve a good fit.

drill hole into larger piece of bamboo

Step 3: Insert the Spout

Once the hole has been cut, place the spout section into the hole. Inside bamboo, at the joints between sections, there is an internal disc or membrane. These will need to be broken out or perforated in order to insert the flexible tubing for the waterfall. You can use a hammer and any kind of metal rod or pipe to break through the membrane. Once the membranes have been pierced, feed the tubing through the spout and down through the larger piece of bamboo. Allow about 8 inches of excess at the end so that you'll have plenty of room to connect the pump.

insert spout section into hole

Step 4: Add the Tubing

Measure how much tubing you'll need at the top, to run to the end of the spout (Image 1), and cut the tubing to the appropriate length using a knife or shears. Thread the top end of the flexible tubing through the opening of the spout section (Image 2), and insert the spout securely in the hole. Cut a notch in the bottom of the larger bamboo to anchor the end of the tubing in place (Image 3). The notch will also allow the end of the bamboo to sit flat on the bottom of the container (Image 4).

Step 5: Build Support for the Small Bowl

With the bamboo spout complete, and the epoxy cured in the containers, you can now begin building the support system for the smaller container. Using smooth paver or standard bricks, place enough bricks in the larger bowl so that the smaller bowl will sit above the water level of the larger bowl. For this fountain, we used a total of 5 bricks -- four arranged in pairs, and a single brick on top to support the smaller container (Image 1). The smaller pieces of bamboo are used to help stabilize the larger bamboo spout and add a decorative element to the fountain. Using smaller sections of 1-inch-diameter bamboo, place a piece of wire around each intersecting corner and hand-twist to connect the pieces together. Tighten the wire with a pair of needle-nose pliers to fasten the pieces securely (Image 2). Use raffia, tied around the bamboo at each corner, to conceal the wires and add a decorative touch (Image 3).

Step 6: Install the Pump

The pump for the tabletop fountain is a completely submersible unit with an output of about 140 gallons per hour. Installation of the pump is simple. Simply connect the outlet port of the pump to the end of the flexible tubing. The pump is operational standing upright or on its side, so orientation is not critical as long as the pump is completely submerged.

install the pump

Step 7: Add the Water, Rocks and Plants

Once the pump is installed an in place in the larger bowl, add water to fill the bowl to a level where the support bricks are concealed (Image 1). Once the basin is filled, place some decorative rocks on the support bricks to help hide them and to add a natural touch (Image 2). Add some aquatic plants in the top basin and place some small rocks to anchor the root system of the plants. Add some floating aquatic plants to complete the fountain (Image 3).

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