Back in 2001 I was contracted to build a pair of custom waterfall speaker stands. This of course pre-dates the shop by about 2 years which means they were built on the back patio and living room of our first apartment here in Houston. If fact, if you look at the office picture in my apartment post you’ll see a piece of uncut copper under the table saw and the leaded glass sides right in front of it. This build was incredibly fun with loads of electrical work, plumbing, and design. In fact, I had pretty much a free hand to create whatever design I envisioned which is always fun for me. The final project took about 70 hours for both speaker stands with most of that spent designing and building the first one. Materials cost in 2001 was about $500 per stand but copper prices have more than tripled in that time so I’m not sure what they would cost to build today (I just hope the current owner doesn’t decide to recycle them). As this was back in the pre-blog days I didn’t take any pictures during construction. The current owner recently allowed me to take some pictures for the blog but bear in mind that the stands are now over 7 years old and unfortunately in need of a great deal of polishing but you’ll get the idea. I do have one original picture that I took back when the project was completed.
Must use copper as main design element
Fit in a box 16”X16”x36”
Stainless steel angle, square tube, and sheet
Roll of 1/16” copper 24” wide and 6’ long
Copper tubing and fittings
Table Saw (could do it with a circular saw)
Router (could do it with a circular saw)
MIG Welding Machine
To begin, I welded a stainless steel frame out of 1/2” angle and square tubing. I attached marine grade plywood panels to the top and bottom sections of this steel frame.
To this basic frame I attached a stainless steel triangular rear panel with an access door, copper water reservoir, electronics package, and lighting.
The electronics package consists of a primary junction box which routes power to the ground fault interrupt (GFI) to protect against water related short circuits, a remote controlled power switch (to allow the owner to turn both stands on and off remotely), a power switch for both the pump and fogging module, and a dimmer for the lighting system. This allows the waterfall to run in many different modes (water no fog, fog no water, both, no light, bright light, dim mode lighting, etc).
The water reservoir had to fit around the main support of the steel frame. To accomplish this, I built two sections into the water tank with a connecting tunnel between the front and rear sections. This allows for water return and provides an attachment point for the frame. The reservoir also contains a retaining circle for the fog generating system.
The rear section of the reservoir contains a 120 gallon per hour statuary pump. This pump is supported by the main copper discharge line running to the top of the stand. It is attached to this line with a rubber coupling and held 2 millimeters off the bottom of the reservoir thus insulating the vibrations of the pump from the rest of the structure.
The fog (or mist) system sits in the front of the reservoir and consists of a water proof hypersonic piezoelectric disc which causes the water to vibrate with enough energy for individual water molecules to overcome their electrostatic attraction and separate from the surface of the liquid creating a mist effect
The top of the stand supports the main spray arm which is simply a drilled piece of ½” copper pipe and the lighting system. The light is a 500 watt halogen bulb surrounded by a handmade copper heat sink. Both the spray arm and heat sink are grounded through the GFI.
The sloped support arms of the main frame contain notches to receive the locking pins from the stone tray.
The stone I selected is a bluish gray flag stone about 1” thick. I had the quarry cut the stone to the required tapered shape and smooth the back of the stone for attachment to the steel support tray. I used a waterproof construction stone adhesive to glue the stone to the steel and then glued copper strips the edge of the stone to keep the water from running off the surface of the rock. The tray can be easily removed from the frame for cleaning.
The glass for the project consists of 3 custom leaded glass 3/8” thick panels per stand. Two are long rectangular panels with one edge double beveled and polished. The third panel is a square piece of single beveled glass. I taped a diagonal line on the long panels that matched the angle of the stone and used a high gloss enamel spray paint on the inside of the panel. This results in a perfect finish on the outside of the panel that hides the electronics and plumbing.
The long panels fit into grooves cut at an angle into the top and bottom plywood panels.
Once the glass was installed I fabricated a copper splash guard/rock holder. This piece keeps the rocks at the base of the waterfall from falling into the main reservoir and keeps the mist effect from getting too crazy!
Once all the functional parts were installed, I worked on trimming out the piece with the required copper. I attached brackets to the bottom side of each corner of the stand to support the lower trim piece. The trim is all hand fabricated soldered 1/16” copper.
To complete the lower trim, I cut section of ceramic tile and supported them on 4 adjustable screws.
With the bottom complete, I next fabricated another copper trim panel to fully enclose the top section and support the glass shelf.
With water added to the reservoir, simply press the button on the remote control and the water starts flowing!
Draining the unit is as simple as clipping the quick release drain hose in and turning on the pump.
Here’s a shot of the completed stand.
Of course, compared to the 7 year old picture at the top of the post, you can see that they really could use some polishing but other than that both stands have held up remarkably well. This is one of my favorite projects as it incorporated so many different materials into one piece of functional sculpture. I don’t often get to design a piece with no preconceived notion of what it needs to look like. Most people have a picture in their mind and want me to somehow build to match that. These stands were just the result of me being allowed play…and it was a blast!