Do It Yourself Waterfall General Woodworking

A Project By April Wilkerson

What would you make if you were given a 2.5′ x 2.5′ piece of glass with your company logo sandblasted in the center? …this was the dilemma I faced when a sample piece of glass was going to be discarded and I asked if I could have it instead. After thinking on it, I came up with the idea of turning it into a water fall:

Now I realize that it’s unlikely you are going to come across a free piece of glass with a logo blasted into it but you can make one of these with just a plain piece of glass and it still comes out looking awesome. However, another option is to go to Hobby Lobby, where they sell a glass etching chemical, and etch in whatever design/logo you want. Imagine all the possibilities…..get creative!
Below are the steps on how I made mine. Since I couldn’t find a tutorial anywhere, I went about this build by figuring it out step by step, which is definitely the hard way. At least I learned a lot. : )

1) My glass is 30″ wide. I bought a plastic tub that was 36″ x 23 7/8″ at Lowes. Then while I was there, I also found a 130-170 gph fountain pump that has a max lift of 4.1′ and some 1/2″ fountain tubing.
Note:Since these pumps are seasonal items, they are typically around $40-$60 but if you can wait until the off season then they drop down to around $20. Also I would recommend spending the extra money and getting a pump that has an automatic shut off when the water level gets too low:

2) First I cut the frame for the tub, then used my Kreg pocket jig to put it all together. I’m using 3/4 red oak plywood.

3) Then I cut four top pieces. I made mine 3 1/4″ wide then also mitered the corners:

4) I grabbed some scrap 3/4″ construction grade ply and cut four strips that will become horizontal supports for a shelf. I designed it this way so I wouldn’t have to fill the whole tub up with rocks, but only have one layer.

5) Then I grabbed a roll of this wire mesh I had laying around from a previous project and cut a piece to size:

6) Since this needs to be attached on the underside of the frame, I flipped over the left and right pieces and used a staple gun to attach it.Note:I went ahead and lined out my marks with a Sharpie for my horizontal supports, before attaching the mesh, just to make the next step easier.

7) I gave the supports a quick paint job (to cameo them into the future rocks) then lined them up and screwed them in place. Note:Since I’m making these supports from wood, I left a 3″ gap in the middle where the water will be falling off the glass so they won’t get wet. However, I will still put a couple clear coats on them as well, at the end:

8) Next I made a ledge to support the bottom of my piece of glass. I made this ledge 3″ long just so I could get a couple screws in each one. Each ledge only grabs about 3/4″ of the glass. Again, I painted them so they would be cameoed.

9) Now that the all the supports were in place, I flipped the box upside down and first drilled pockets holes then attached the four mitered pieces:

10) To hold the glass in place: I cut two scrap 2x4s to 27″ (which leaves around 3″ of glass at the top for me to work in the plumbing), and used my dado blades to notch out the bottom and also cut in a 1/4″ dado down the center. Then I attached my two 2x4s with two screws on the bottom inside face and two on the underside. Tip:Be sure to offset them so they don’t collide with each other:

11) Since I’m using 1/2″ hose, I grabbed a 1/2″ paddle bit and made a hole for the plumbing, then fed it through and used hose clamps to guide and attach it to where it will be on the front side of the glass. (The imagine is sandblasted onto the back side).
Design Edits:1)I ended up running some 12/3 wire through this whole as well, so I had to enlarge it to 1″.2)The flexible hose ended up not working out because of the sweet 90s it creates, instead of a hard 90. When I would turn the water off, it would flow back onto the hose and travel all the way down to the frame where it would create a pool of water. >: / To eliminate this, I ended up changing to PVC so that I could use a 90 degree joint. I kept the bottom half flexible hose to make connecting it to the pump easy, then just spliced in a connection.

13) I laid my PVC line next to a tape measure and used a Sharpie to mark every inch, trying to mark in as straight of a line as possible. However, I ended up only drilling every other hole:


  • Start off using a small drill bit because you an always make it bigger.
  • Also start off with just drilling a few (like every other), then adding more as needed.You don’t want to run into the problem of drilling too many holes and killing the pressure and having to start with a fresh line.
  • I found the water flows over the glass more evenly with the hole slightly angle up and when the line is close to the glass, but not touching it.
  • Clean your piece of glass really well before you even get started on figuring out the water flow.


14) Now to make the boxes for each side. I notched out the bottoms that make up the front and back. Then used pocket holes to attach the front and my brad nailer to attach the back. (Space is too tight to use pockets for both):


15) Then I made the top cap. To make sure those sides suck up to the glass as far as they can, I only left a 1/8″ of clearance. I again cut a dado 1/4″ thick down the middle then used pocket holes to attach the front, and brad nails to attach the back.

16) I finished off the ends then ironed on some 3/4″ redoak edging:

17) Next, I cut a notch out from the back side of the tub lip to allow the cord a place to snake through, and also cut a mouse hole on the backside of the frame:

18) To make getting to the pump easier, I cut in an access hatch then bought three rubber twist ties (? That’s what I’m calling them) to keep it closed. I bought the dark color to get them hidden among the rocks:

Wiring in the Lights
It was my original plan to have the lights tucked under the cap where they couldn’t be seen and only be shining down on the glass. However, after three attempts, I was forced to change up my plan, much to my disappointment. Let me give you the fails first then tell you what worked. I first bought some red rope lights an they weren’t powerful enough to even shine below the level of the cap. Next I bought these LED floodlights you see on the left in the below picture and planned to install them in the hollow side columns but they don’t have a typical 110 plug on the end, but instead, require a big power pack to be installed. I wasn’t willing to have a huge box on my waterfall (even on the back). So next I tried three of the top right lights, which are 20 watt lights, then bought three of the bottom right pack which contains a red filter. Without the filter, the light worked fine….with the filter, the light wasn’t powerful enough. Eh….back to the drawing board:

As my fourth option, I ended up purchasing two of the lights above (on the right). They are 50 watts each. However, even though they are the smallest 50 watts I could find, they are too large to fit under my top cap. If you plan ahead, you can make your cap big enough to encompass your lights.

1) I opened the bottom of the light and took everything out to look around. There is a light sensor wired in so the light will only turn on at night. I cut those wires and tossed the sensor. Then I cut the power cord (that comes with it) and spliced it in, connecting the commons, and the powers, then attaching ground:

2) Now before putting the base back on. Instead of having the wires come out from the back like they did with the original design, I decided to change up the base so that the cords would go through the base and into the top cap that way they would be hidden from view. So next I grabbed the base plates and drill a hole in it the same size as my wire:

3) Then I figured out where on the top cap I wanted my lights to be mounted and traced around the base. I also marked the three small holes that come on the base that secure it to the light. Note:By mounting it to the base like I am, I’m taking away the only way to attach the light fixture back to the base. So once I marked all my holes, moved the base and drilled a hole where those three holes fall, big enough for the entire screw head to pass all the way through and thread into their position. Then since this mount has a threaded bolt in the center, that secures it to the factory mount, I drilled a hole just slightly smaller than this bolt then grab a pair of channel locks and threaded it into the hole. Once it was in place, I drilled a hole through the top cap to match the hole I put through the base.

4) I put the wire through the hole, screwed on the fixture, then ran the tail through the wire hole of the other side’s base.

5) For this second base, two wire holes are needed. One for the tail of the other light, and another for the output wire I spliced in. So I drilled my second hole and spliced the two lines as well as the light together. Then I screwed in the three screws (again using the drilling a hole larger than the screw head method):

At this point, it should look something like this….Oh, I originally rigged up something to hold the red filter against the outside of the lens, however I ended up screwing off the lens assembly and actually placing the red filter on the inside, then screwed it back together:

6) To give the top cap a way to be a completely individual item from the waterfall, I added in these little quick disconnects fittings. I also left enough wire to allow the top cap to be removed without tugging on the wires on either end. The extra just gets shoved in the hollow side column.

Wiring in the Switches:

1) I purchased two push button switches. I lined out where I wanted my switches to be placed, drilled a hole, then since the shaft isn’t quitelong enough to fit through 3/4″ wood, I used my router to router out the space some until I was able to push the switches through and thread on the nut.Note:If you buy the same switches, make sure you buy the one that says ‘maintained’ and not ‘momentary’.Also, be mindful of where you place your switches because the tub will be fitting through here. I’ve positioned them right below the lip of the tub:

2) With the switches mounted in place, I brought in the line to the pump, the plug wire, as well as the line from the lights. Out of the three wires, ground/common/power, all three power wires are connected together, all three grounds are connected together, and the neutral wire from the plug wire is connected to one side of both of the switches. The other side of the switches went to the pump and the light respectively. I used flex clips to route and position the wires where I wanted them. I routed the pump wire towards the top, the light wire straight back, and left the plug wire where it’s at so it can be guided to the mouse hole:

3) I ran into a small wire binding issue with the position of the wire for the lights, so I took my jigsaw and cut a relief from the tub lip and that problem was solved. : )

This is going to be a gift to my company, so I’m holding off on staining it until I know where it’s going and will match it to the furniture already there. : ) Hope they like it.

If you want to see it in action, here is a video I posted to my YouTube channel:

To watch the latest videos of new projects, subscribe to April’s YouTube channel.

Total Time: Two weeks
Total Cost: $124

Visit April’s website for more cool projects.