Introduction: Build Your Own Faucet

Picture of Build Your Own Faucet

When I discovered I needed a new faucet for my laundry room sink I didnt want to choose between a cheap faucet that will only last a few years and an expensive one. I decided to build my own.
The faucet is made from 1/2" copper pipe and solder fittings, two ball valves, and two 3/8 threaded fittings.
The specific pipe lengths, configuration, and installation will vary based on your needs and tastes so I leave that for each person to determine what will work best in their situation.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

Drill and drill bits
Hand saw
Tape Measure
Combination square
Pipe cutter
Steel wool
Safety glasses
Heat resistant gloves (not pictured)

For soldering:
Wire pipe brush
Sand paper
Solder flux
Brush (for applying flux)

Wooden blocks (One 8 in length the other 3-1/2 in)
Bolts of greater length than the width of the block
All pipe materials have 1/2" solder joints:
2 Ball valves
3 90 degree elbows (I bought extra in case of problems with soldering)
1 T-joint
2 3/8 threaded converters for attaching supply hoses
1 3/8 pipe thread to 3/4 hose thread adapter
Copper pipe

Step 2: Building the Base

Picture of Building the Base

The spacing of the supply hookups on a normal faucet is 4". You want to ensure that the pipes go through the existing holes in your sink.
Begin by using the combination square to draw two lines at 2" from each side of the 8 board. Then mark the half way point of each line. Use these points to center the 1/2" holes. Once these holes have been drilled use a hand saw to cut from the end of the board into the hole.
Mark 4 spots on the edge of the board in equal locations 3/8" from the edge and in the center. At each of these locations drill a hole that is large enough for the shaft of the bolt. A larger hole will provide more leeway and will be helpful in ensuring that the two holes line up. A drill press will be very helpful in this step but a hand drill and a steady hand will also work.
Once the holes are drilled push the bolts all the way through, attach the nuts, but do not tighten them yet.
As the base will often be exposed to water sealing and painting will help prevent decay and increase the life span of your faucet.

Step 3: Pipe Cutting and Fitting

Picture of Pipe Cutting and Fitting

The Pipe cutter I used is much larger than necessary. A hack saw will also work fine. Measure all of the pieces carefully to ensure that project fits together well. Compare lengths of pipe that are intended to be the same size to ensure symmetry.
To solder the joints:
1. Observe safety precautions. Read labels on the solder and flux and follow the listed safety procedures. Always wear safety glasses and gloves. Work in a well ventilated area as flux and solder can produce toxic fumes. Use lead free solder to ensure no contamination of the water in the faucet or to you during assembly.
2. Wire brush the fitting and sand the pipe
3. Wipe both clean
4. Apply soldering flux to both surfaces to be soldered, be careful not to over apply. Avoid skin contact by using a small brush.
5. Fit the pieces together.
6. Heat the pipe and fitting with the torch
7. Move the torch away and apply solder. There should be enough to go all the way around the pipe. Be careful not to over apply.
8. Observe caution as the pipe will be very hot. And the solder may remain soft until it has cooled completely.

Step 4: Assembling the Pipes and Fittings

Picture of Assembling the Pipes and Fittings

The exact length of the pipes used will depend on the specific situation. Start by connecting the 3/8 threaded fittings to two equal lengths of pipe. Press the unsoldered end up through the holes in the base so that the threaded fittings are on the bottom. Make sure the length of pipe above the board is equal and tighten the bolts.
Attach the valves making sure that they both have room to turn freely.
Once the valves are in place connect both to the T fitting using elbows. The center of the T fitting should face forward as this is where you will attach the pipe that caries water to the sink. Use a piece of pipe to ensure that it does not interfere with the valves.
Fit an elbow onto the final piece to direct the flow of water downward. Adding a 3/8” threaded piece and the hose adapter will allow you to screw hoses onto your sink.
It is wise to cut and fit all pieces before soldering to ensure they all fit together properly.

Step 5: Testing

Picture of Testing

The 3/8 pipe thread to 3/4 hose thread will allow you to fit a garden hose to the bottom of the faucet. This will allow you to check one side at a time. Connect the hose, you may need a coupler as both ends will be male, and check for leaks. Wiping the faucet dry will ensure you spot any problems.

Step 6: Cleaning Up the Copper

Picture of Cleaning Up the Copper

A file will let you remove large pieces of solder that may have dripped during fitting. Steel wool will clean the copper without leaving harsh or obvious scratch marks.

Step 7: Installation

Picture of Installation

After you are satisfied that the joints are sound and the faucet looks attractive you can install it in your sink. Shut off the water and open the old tap so the water can drain. Shut-off valves are notoriously problematic use penetrating or a lubricant (such as WD-40) and be careful not to turn it too hard. Forcing a frozen shut-off valve can lead to serious troubles.
Fit the pipes through the holes in your sink and make sure the base sits flat. You can use the third hole, often used for the drain stop lever, to screw or bolt the base of the faucet to the other, small wooden block.
In the case of my laundry room the sink is plastic and I was able to drill through it. The best way to secure your faucet depends on your specific situation.
Once the faucet is secure attach the supply hoses. Plumbers putty or plumbers tape applied to the threads of the faucet will help ensure that the connection does not leak.
Once you are satisfied with the connection turn on the water supply. Check all connections. Wipe the faucet dry and look for leaks. Watch the area over the next few days to spot any slow leaks or drips.


den0matic (author)2017-09-07

??? What's with all the "it's ugly" talk? Hasn't anyone heard your grandma say " if you can't say anything nice..." I think it is a great looking project and I'm sure a labor of love... Great job!

Dannevang Designs (author)2011-11-12

that is so awesome that is how I am going to make the facettes for my wine making room.

Squid Tamer (author)2009-09-26

At first I thought it was really ugly, but the more I looked the more beautiful it looked. A simple elegance, what with the slightly differently colored valves and the polished copper. If the wood was stained and lacquered it would look like a weird fusion of ugly home brew and fine woodwork/plumbing.

pribich (author)Squid Tamer2009-09-27

If I install this sort of faucet in a bathroom I'll likely spend a lot more time making it look pretty. Also I don't have a lot of experience sweating pipes, so you can see in some places where the excess solder shows.

pfred2 (author)pribich2011-06-26

That is why you wipe your sweat joints with a nasty flux rag while they're still hot, to knock off the excess solder. Sort of slobs the solder a little further on the pipes though. I think your joints look good.

SammyFM (author)2009-10-22

It´s so ugly ;-)

qwertyzzz18 (author)SammyFM2010-07-04

It might be ugly to you, but i think it's awesome

pfred2 (author)qwertyzzz182011-06-26

it is pretty ugly as far as faucets go these days.

T L Cary (author)2010-09-16

I built something very similar and ran it out through the wall so I could have warm water to the hose bib for the kids. The problem I found was that with the hose bib closed and both valves open the cold water ran back through the hot water pipes to the house. Just something to watch for, or add check valves. Nicely done, and I haven't had any troubles with the valves, just tighten up the caps once a year.

pfred2 (author)T L Cary2011-06-26

You beat me to it but setups like this can backfeed cold water to the hot supply. Laundry faucets are pretty cheap/free so I'd never go this route myself. Other than the block of wood this setup looks OK to me though.

2 stroke (author)2010-08-24

i dont have a propane torch can i use my stick welder im not sure if that weld copper i does weld steel if it doesn't ill use my whole assortment of stainless steel pipes

2 stroke (author)2 stroke 2010-08-24

as a plus can you tell me how to get hot water to the garage i dont think of it as a necisity though is it possible to bild this with only a cold water tap i really need a sink in the garage hat clean paint brushes and parts with the hose outside

pribich (author)2 stroke 2010-08-24

I don't think the stick welder will work because it will likely get much hotter than you need. Luckily you can likely get a basic propane torch pretty cheap at most hardware stores. Even a small refillable torch lighter can work since it takes very little heat to melt the solder. If you are looking for a hot water line you'll need to run a line from the the nearest plumbing spot. One of the easiest ways is to use pex tubbing with sharkbite fittings. It will be much more simple to do that compared to running copper tubing. Let me know how it goes.

2 stroke (author)pribich2010-08-25

di need to look for a drain too the problem is that the drain and hot water is at least about 100 feet away there is a copper pipe runnig accross where i wan the sink and the pipe leads to a garden hose spigot outside can i tap into that copper pipe with a tee fitting and run a stainless steel sink ill get at he scrap yard off that and drain the water outside into a curbside storm drain or into the floor drain in the basemet rite beside the garage underneath

pribich (author)2 stroke 2010-08-25

I would highly recommend using a floor drain. The storm drain outside drains directly to local waterways, thus the paints, solvents, and such from your sink will wind up directly in nearby streams. Floor drains are often connected to the city sewer system.

Corny76 (author)2010-07-27

good idea, I would only replace wooden base with ceramic base (made from cut bathroom ceramic tile). Ceramic material is better water resistant than wood.

pribich (author)Corny762010-08-24

I like that idea. The nice thing about wood is that you can put the two small bolts through it to hold the faucet in place. Though if you have a solution I'd love to hear it because it would work a lot better.

servion (author)2010-08-13

brilliant! with some designing and finishing uou could actually build one that could be very suitable for bathroom or kitchen sinks. If I ever get there I will post pictures.

caseyvitti (author)2010-02-18

 Another thing you could do to for more support is switch to threaded galvanized pipe. You also wouldn't have to worry about your soldering skills and the pipes wouldn't have to be polished afterwards. 

stephenniall (author)2010-01-05

Simple idea a bit of Copper pipe and some ball valves ! 

Im going to make one for a Booth for spraypainting in my shed

pheenix42 (author)2009-11-29

Fantastic!  If I ever set up a utility sink, I'm doing the plumbing like this!

pribich (author)pheenix422009-11-30

Glad you enjoyed it so much. If you ever do please let me know how it goes.

eoingrosch (author)2009-11-09

i think this is really cool.  i like the look of it too.  awesome job.  i'll probably make my own, similar to yours.  thanks!

pribich (author)eoingrosch2009-11-10

Cool. You should let me know how it turns out.

Smeeon (author)2009-10-12

wow! creative and useful, especially if you have some of this junk laying around like i do. friggen faucets are super pricey for such a simple device. when you don't need anything special for your project there is no reason buying something special in my opinion. good work!

pribich (author)Smeeon2009-10-13

Thanks. I am glad you enjoy it so much.

Weissensteinburg (author)2009-09-29

Cool! I like the way this simplify things. In a conventional faucet, the two pipes combining is always hidden. This feels like a magic trick being revealed :D

pribich (author)Weissensteinburg2009-10-09

Thanks. I am a big fan of showing what is going on. When I build furniture I almost always use through tennons so you can see the joint.

saintrojo (author)2009-10-01

Nice, thought of doing that a ways back but voted down. Should last a long time. You can get handle extensions which would move the handles away from the valve so you could box it in and neaten it up( maybe for bathroom sink). I used them on a job once( was a union pipefitter for ten yrs) and they come in various lengths.

pribich (author)saintrojo2009-10-09

Intersting. I'm not familar with those but they are worth looking into. Thanks.

rquackenbush (author)2009-10-07

Awesome Instructible!  I was lucky enough to get a sink / faucet for free.   If I hadn't, I would totally build one of these bad boys.

Soldering is a solid, traditional (if not a little messy) way to secure pipes.  If you're interested in keeping it super neat (or you don't happen to have solid pipe sweating skills like me) you could always use epoxy (I've used Copper Bond from Lowes before with no leaks). 

It comes out way neater than solder.

But hey - it's a utility sink so it doesn't really matter!

pribich (author)rquackenbush2009-10-09

Good tip on using the epoxy. I have only a little expirence with soldering pipes. Someone who has done it a lot more could likely make the joints look much cleaner.

annodomini2 (author)2009-09-26

Interesting concept, you could use compression fittings if you're not confident with soldering. If you didn't want the industrial look you could clad with wood or some form of plastic. Maybe even plaster and mold it to the shape or design you want

rquackenbush (author)annodomini22009-10-07

You could also use copper epoxy for the joins.  I wouldn't trust compression joints where they're going to get jostled whever someone turns a valve.

pribich (author)annodomini22009-09-27

I like the idea of using plaster, it could allow you to come up with all sorts of cool sculptural designs.

annodomini2 (author)pribich2009-09-28

Mind you, it would probably need to be sealed

Padlock (author)annodomini22009-09-30

I imagine the plaster would crack when the hot water was turned on. The hot water wold cause the copper pipe to expand, which may or may not be significant enough to crack apart the plaster. If it didn't happen the first time, however, a stress fracture would eventually form.

Padlock (author)2009-09-30

Hmm. I would have stained the base, or atleast painted it. And flipped the left valve 180 degrees. But that's just me and my unnatural need for everything to be symmetrical... Looks very good.

mr hymn (author)2009-09-30

impressive and sorta steampunkish

mdauld (author)2009-09-25

Great idea. If you replaced your tee fitting with a gator bite tee from the home store, you could rotate the arm out of the way when you need to put a big object in the sink. The gator bite fittings will easily rotate on the pipes and complete the junk yard rig feel of the project.

pribich (author)mdauld2009-09-27

I really like that idea. I've used gator fittings with pex before. Do you know if it will work with copper piping?

mdauld (author)pribich2009-09-28

Works like a charm on copper. Can be easily disassembled too.

iPodGuy (author)2009-09-28

Nice! Wouldn't be too hard to add a second spout for a short hose with a sprayer nozzle to clean mops. Cool slop sink you got there!

Oroka (author)2009-09-27

I recently paid a visit to a bathroom in a cafe on Yonge St in Toronto, which had beautiful tiles work, and basically the same idea as this, but the design was a little more intricate and the spout was not so far out. I was quite impressed.

frollard (author)2009-09-27

Very nice! A tip: To stop the copper oxidizing after you've polished it with a wire-brush (steel wool, etc) - give it a coat of varnish or polyurethane designed to stick to metal. Same lustre, less cleaning! 5*!

pribich (author)frollard2009-09-27

Yes. I am thinking about giving it a top coat after I am sure it doesn't leak and won't need any tweaking.

applesaucemodifier (author)2009-09-25

I think with a little more work these could be made to look very elegant.

I agree. This is one of the first times I have sweated pipes. The connections are sound but not as pretty as I would like. This is sort of a "proof of concept." If I do it again in a bathroom or kitchen I intend to spend more time considering aesthetics.

magickaldan (author)2009-09-25

Great idea, but here's a few suggestions/ideas. I would have used gate valves the kind used on garden hoses, without the garden hose side just a straight valve. And I would paint it with a clear coat or any color to help prevent corrosion. Then throw a garden hose adapter on the end of the ell, so you can hook a garden hose up to it, but if you do that add a support to help hold the extra weight.

pribich (author)magickaldan2009-09-27

Well the valves are pretty solid. I am considering soldering in a 3/8 threaded fitting so I can use the hose thread adapter I mentioned in step 5.

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