Creative home made firefall

Obligatory final product. Tile top, lit-up water fountain in the center, with propane-fueled fire on top. The fire is fueled by a 20lb propane tank that is hidden under the table. The fountain and lights are plugged into a power-strip under the table that is then connected to an outlet via an extension cord. The table has three distinct parts: the base, table top, and fountain/waterfall portion. Each of the three can be (fairly) easily separated for ease of transport. The silver glint you see on the base is the quick-kill key valve that is required by law. It allows the user to throttle the flow of propane as well as kill the fire quickly and from a distance if necessary.
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My sexy powerpoint-based plan. This is a view of the table base from the side.
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Another powerpoint schematic. This is a top-down view of the tabletop frame. As stated earlier, the top is not attached to the base in order to ensure maximum portability.
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This image shows how the propane system is set up. The base pan and both bowls have holes drilled through their center. Each of the holes is surrounded by a 3" PVC pipe that is adhered with silicone adhesive. The propane line then runs through this corridor and up to the fire bowl. The clear tubing used to pump water into the fountain also runs through this same corridor.
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This served to ensure the fit of the table base
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Piecing together the table base.
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Cut the legs down to their final size
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Beginning to glue and screw the skeletal base. Everything in this project was glued with the strongest adhesive I could find and then screwed together as well. I know I wasn't using fancy woodworking joints or anything else, but I'm not quite to that skill level yet. I also know that using screws can be seen as a bit of a woodworking sin, but this baby has to stand up to moving crews every few years because of my career so it needed to be sturdy and over-engineered.
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Attaching the plywood siding
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Continuing to attach the plywood siding
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Three of the plywood sides have been attached. The fourth is left off because it will be a door to access the propane tank underneath. The two slats running across the top are the support for the lower fountain pan.

Yay! It looks like the schematic!
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A quick test to ensure the propane tank still fits under the table base.
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Another view of the base
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Sorry I didn't get many pictures of the building portion of the top (but it was just cutting and gluing wood, so you're not missing out on much). This is a view of the side that would eventually become a door.
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A better picture of the framing for the tabletop. As with the base, it was glued and screwed together.
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The plywood base currently drying on the top. It was two separate pieces of plywood glued to the frame. This step might not have been necessary since I was going to add cement backerboard anyway, but I thought I'd rather be safe than sorry.
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More pictures of glue drying.
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Still more pictures of glue drying
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I stained a series of cheap boards from Home Depot and then sealed them with a high-gloss lacquer in order to form a waterproof (and attractive) outer layer. The longer boards are the edge boards for the tabletop portion. I cut them a 45 degree bevel so they fit (more or less) flush. These will be attached later, after they're done drying.
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Attaching the cement backer board to the plywood. This would serve as a base for the slate tiling. It was a single piece of backer board that I cut the center out of, after measuring it against the plywood top. It was glued to the plywood using the strongest adhesive I could find.
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Here you can see the all of the inner workings of the table. There aren't many in-progres pictures but I'll walk you through the process. I started off by drilling a large hole through the center of both bowls and the square pan you see here. I then cut a 3" PVC pipe into two pieces and used them to create "risers" between the two bowls and between the bottom bowl and the square pan. The PVC pipes are attached to the bowls and pan using silicone adhesive. This pipe "corridor" allows for a waterproof area to run the propane hose and the fountain hoses.
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The basepan rests on the slats shown earlier as well as the four corner posts. There are two pumps that can each add water to the fountain bowl. They both run concurrently, however I only use one to feed the fountain at any given time because both running into the fountain causes it to overflow. The second pump serves to add a circulating effect to the basepan for visual effect when it isn't being used to feed the fountain. Each pump connects to a clear plastic tube that then enters the same PVC tunnel I ran the propane line through. The entry points are sealed with silicone to preserve the watertight integrity. You can also get a nice view of the two colors of fireglass I used. The base pan also has a "clear blue" LED light string running around its edge. It was attached using more clear silicone adhesive.
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The lights and pumps run off a single switch. It hasn't reached its equilibrium pressure in the fountain yet in this picture so the jets aren't quite at full strength. The jets were created by drilling small holes throughout the bowl. Important note: the holes MUST be drilled at the same height or they wont have an equal flow. I know this because the bowl you see is my second attempt after trying to freehand the holes on the first try :(.
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Here you see a gaggle of cables. This is the under-table view where the excess light strip and other cords run. The yellow cable is the propane line that runs from the burner to the key-valve. The other cables are the light and two pump power cords that are plugged into an outdoor power strip I glued to the bottom of one of the boards. The power strip has a switch that enables an easy one stop shop to start the whole thing running. The strip then connects to a wall socket via an outdoor extension cord.
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A better look at the bowl and drip pan setup. The base is a 3" deep square baking pan. Above this is the fountain bowl and on top is the fire bowl. As stated before, each level is separated by a piece of 3" PVC pipe that is sealed with silicone adhesive. The flex line is then run through this "tunnel" and through holes that I drilled through the pan and two bowls. This was also my tiling time. I used slate tiles and a basic tiling cement to adhere each of them to the backer board.
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Attaching the edge boards and tiles to the top. The tiles are a simple slate tile found at Home Depot. The edge boards were some of the pieces I cut, stained, and sealed earlier.
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The fire is powered by a 6" propane burner ring that runs to a 12" flex line. The flex line is connected to a key-valve that allows for throttling the fire and a quick-kill if necessary. The other side of the valve is then connected to the propane tank. If you look closely you can see the hole I drilled for the key valve to pass through.
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The 12" flex line runs through the center of the square drip pan and the two stainless bowls.
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Here you can see the boards I previously stained and sealed being attached to the plywood on the table base. I used glue and screws to ensure it would stand up to being moved (being mobile is an ongoing theme for this project).
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Reinforcing some of the boards while I waited for my drill battery to recharge :( This project led to the purchase of a newer/stronger drill with additional batteries.
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A closer look of the fountain and fire
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Fire on its lowest setting. You get a good view of the two different fireglass colors used. It was a combination of large "cobalt blue" (10 lbs) and smaller clear glass (4 lbs). This also shows you the fountain jets. As shown earlier, the fountain has a two-pump system although only one is used to push water into the bowl. The other pump helps to circulate water around the base pan for an extra visual effect.
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Fire on its highest setting. This setting definitely won't be used much.
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  • sowhat
  • June 4, 2014, 12:47 pm
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