So this happened.
I have an odd assortment of galvanized buckets and trashcans sitting around this place.
One day, I’m randomly looking at these things, and the way they were stacked I suddenly thought, “Those would make a great fountain.” And so it began.
The majority of these buckets and lids come directly from the cleaning aisle at Home Depot. The three small buckets are from Ikea (though they are from awhile back, so I am not sure they currently carry them–but craft stores always seem to have similar ones), while the tall french flower bucket….well, I have no idea where I got that. Similar ones can be found just by doing a Google search for ‘galvanized french flower bucket’, but also, I constantly see them at stores like Michaels, HomeGoods, World Market, etc. Sometimes they have them, sometimes they don’t. Not pictured in the previous photo is the little milk bucket I happened upon at the last minute at Michaels which wound up being the top tier of the fountain:
Aside from your fine selection of buckets, there are a few other items you’ll need for this project, including:
–small fountain pump (I got this one from Lowe’s)
–a fountain nozzle kit (I also got this one from Lowe’s)
–pond liner patch kit (like this, also from Lowe’s)
–clear silicone caulking
–1/2″ or so metal drill bit (and a power drill to use it with….just sayin’….)
–matte light grey spray paint (optional)
First things first: A lot of my buckets have been sitting around in my yard, so they’ve started to dull with age (which is how I like them). But several of these buckets, lids, and especially the brand new milk jug, were super new and shiny. Eventually, they’ll all start to age, but to fake it a bit, I give them the lightest dusting of matte light grey spray paint–something like Rustoleum brand auto primer.
Go easy with this–hold the nozzle far from the object and let the mist lightly hit the metal–the goal here is to still have a bit of shininess showing through the duller paint.
Now, the two trashcan lids that are going to be the fountain tiers come with handles on them. These need to be removed.
These particular handles are set into the lid fairly simply:
To remove, you just have to uncurl the little end and slip the handle out. I did this using a pair of needle-nose pliers. It’s a little tough, but just beat that little tab into submission and get it sort of flattened out, and then you can work the handle out of there–you’ll be left with two holes, but these will just be filled with silicone later.
Now that that little detail is taken care of, let’s assemble the pedestal. I used a 10-quart bucket that I had lying around (like this one) turned upside down as the base, with an 18 inch tall french flower bucket flipped upside down on top of that (for an overall pedestal height of 24″). Before you silicone them together into one unit, we’ve got to cut some holes.
In the base of the bucket, you’ve got to cut just a big general hole–shoot, you could cut the whole bottom out of it, but that’s a lot of work (that being said, it would make threading the pump cord much easier if there was no bottom at all–so have at it!). Punch a hole with a metal drill bit, and then use tin snips to make a hole at least big enough for a plug to fit through, slightly bigger is better.
Now, so that you don’t have sharp metal edges cutting into your pump cord, run a nice bead of silicone around the jagged edge:
Now, do the same in the bottom of the french flower bucket, only cut the hole off to one side. Trust me.
After you’ve let the protective silicone edging set just a bit on each of these, flip the 10 quart bucket so that it is upside down (drilled hole side up), run a thick bead of silicone around the top outer edge of it, and slide the upside-down french flower bucket over the top of that–give it a hard push so that they really wedge together. Let the silicone set thoroughly.
Meanwhile, go ahead and cut a similar hole (big enough for a plug to fit through, but not much bigger), into the larger of your two trashcan lids. Use one of the two small handle holes as your start hole. What’s nice about these is that they have concentric circle ridges in them (like a bull’s eye), which help you pinpoint where you should put the new cord hole. Again, this needs to be slightly off-center, right between the first and second circular ridges of the trashcan lid:
Run your protective bead of silicone around the cut edge, as well, fill in that other small hole leftover from the handle. While you’re at it, go ahead and fill the handle holes on the other, smaller trashcan lid, too. Let the silicone set completely.
The next piece of the pedestal is a small bucket, approximately 2 or 2.5 quarts in size. This is going to fit over the fountain pump housing, and needs to have a hole drilled dead-center in it that will just barely fit the adjustable fountain neck extension that came in your fountain nozzle kit. The largest drill bit I happen to own is a 1/2″, and the fountain neck part was slightly wider than that–so I had to drill, and then take my tinsnips and carefully snip away at the edge to widen it just enough for the part to fit snuggly through–the tighter the fit, the better.
Because the part that threads through this hole is made of a rigid plastic, it isn’t necessary to run a bead of silicone along the edge (unless you choose to use a bit of flexible tubing instead of a nozzle kit). De-burr it as much as possible, though. Just because.
Now drill a similar hole, centered, in both the smaller trashcan lid (once the siliconed handle holes are set), as well as the bottom of the milk jug, or whatever item you choose to be your top fountain tier.
Assembly time: run a hefty bead of silicone around the base (now the ‘top’) of your french flower bucket, and place your larger trash can lid, upside down onto this, aligning the hole in the lid with the hole in the flower bucket. Let set completely.
Once that silicone is dry and secure, set your pump in place (centered in the trashcan lid) and feed your plug and cord down through the hole and out the bottom of the base pedestal.
Now, cut a piece of that pond liner patch big enough to cover the trash can lid hole with a little overlap–but not enough overlap that it sticks much outside of that second bull’s-eye ring (you don’t want it to show outside of the bucket that will cover all this).
Peel the protective backing off the patch and press it firmly over the hole, with the pump cord coming through the Pac-Man slit. Now silicone thoroughly around all edges of the patch, slit, and where the cord goes through the patch. This is critical. No gaps. This is what will keep all the water in the darned fountain.
Now let that set (I let it cure overnight, just to be sure).
Oh, you are so ready to put this baby together!
Move the pump back into the center of the trashcan lid and suction it down with it’s little suction-y feet, and then add the nozzle extension neck thingy.
Now thread each section of the remaining buckets and lids into place over the nozzle extension neck thingy. They are going to be tight (I effectively ‘screwed’ mine on). Once they are in place, fill the whole thing with water, and plug that bad boy in.
Eventually this thing will rust and weather (which I want it to do), especially the spots that have been drilled through where the galvanization is now compromised. Will it last forever? Nope. But hey, it’s cute until then.