Introduction: Squirt Gun Refill Station

Picture of Squirt Gun Refill Station

This project was whipped together just before my son's fifth birthday party. My wife had purchased a package of a dozen or so cheap squirt guns, and I figured the kids could just fill them in a bucket. About an hour before the party I tried doing just that and found that it didn't work worth a darn.

You can fill them at a sink, but that's not a great option when you've got ten kids you'd prefer not to have running through your house. I can fill them with the hose, but only because I can squeeze the garden nozzle just a hair to allow a small trickle of water out. (My son can't.) I thought about using a small syringe, but I wasn't sure they'd be able to operate that and hold the gun at the same time, and I couldn't find one anyway. So I needed some way to make one or more slim streams of water just right to flow into the holes on the squirt guns.

This is what I hacked together in the thirty minutes or so before the party.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

Main Water Reservoir - I used a big 66 quart plastic container we had lying around. You could use a bucket, but depending on how spread out your water streams are and how high you hang it you might end up with water splashing on the ground. This one seemed to work out great.

Filling Container - I pulled a gallon milk jug out of the recycling bin. 2 liter bottles or juice containers would work fine, too. Anything that'll hold a decent amount of liquid that's easy to drill through. Don't use anything that contained anything toxic since you know kids will ultimately be drinking directly out of this, if not out of the squirt guns.

Fountain Pump - I was lucky enough to have one of these lying around. If you think you'll get a lot of use out of this idea, you can probably pick one up for $10-$15. If you want to go the cheaper, slightly more labor intensive route you can just make a larger port on the filling container and tell the kids to pour water into it by hand.

Tubing - I had some air hose in the garage I'd used for a pneumatic spud gun project so I grabbed a piece of that. You need something that'll mate with the pump outlet (if you're using one). This was 1/2" ID, I believe. You only need 2'-3', so if you don't have any, pick some up when you get the pump, if you're going that route.

Drill and Bits - You might be able to get by just poking holes in the container, but I think the water streams will be cleaner if you actually drill the holes. I used a 1/2" bit for the top two holes to hang it, and an 1/8" bit for the drain holes.

Utility Knife - In case you need to threaten your kids if they try to steal your stuff while you're working.

Twine - Anything cord or rope like you've got lying around. I used some mason's line. You'll have to thread it through the holes in the bottom, so keep that in mind before you pick something too thick.

Step 2: Making the Hanging and Fill Holes

Picture of Making the Hanging and Fill Holes

We'll start off by getting the jug ready for hanging by drilling a couple holes in the bottom. My jug had a reinforced central section so I chose to drill on either side of that. Milk jug plastic is pretty hardy, so I wouldn't worry too much about it ripping. I used a 1/2" bit here solely for the purpose of making it easier to pull the twine through.

Once the holes were drilled I took the twist tie from the pump cord and made a little hook to pull the twine through the second hole. The piece of twine I cut was about 3' long, since I wasn't sure exactly how high I was going to hang the jug.

Lastly you'll need to cut an opening for the fill hose. I just sliced out a semicircle and bent the plastic over with my finger. This doesn't need to be pretty, just functional.

Step 3: Making the Drain Holes

Picture of Making the Drain Holes

Now you've got to make the holes that'll be doing the filling. I used an 1/8" bit for this. I started with four through the cap, and three more around the outside of the top of the jug.

Step 4: Hanging the Filling Container

Picture of Hanging the Filling Container

Now we'll need to hang the filling container over the main water reservoir. I chose a handy spot right near a hose bib and an outlet for the pump. My outlet was GFCI protected which was great, because electrocuting kids is bad.

I hung the jug about two feet above the surface of the deck.

Step 5: Setting Up the Pump and Filling the Reservoir

Picture of Setting Up the Pump and Filling the Reservoir

To set up the pump you need to attach the hose. My pump had a small removable adapter that came out of the outlet of the pump. I stuck that into one end of the air hose, then pushed the adapter into the pump outlet.

The pump itself had little suction cup feet that I stuck to the bottom of the reservoir underneath the jug, and then fed the hose up and into the hole I'd cut in the top of the jug.

After that I cranked up the hose and filled the reservoir about half full.

Step 6: Turning on the Pump and Testing the Filling Station

Picture of Turning on the Pump and Testing the Filling Station

Plug in the pump and let 'er rip. Give the pump a minute or so and see how it's doing. As you can see in my first picture, the number of drain holes I started with weren't enough to deal with the speed of the pump, and there's plenty of water leaking out around the fill hose. Not a huge deal but it pours down the back of the jug doesn't look as fancy.

You can adjust the intake on your pump, or add more filling streams. I chose the latter. Don't worry about emptying the jug; just crank up your drill and go to town. Add a few and see how it changes the level of the water. As long as the water level is below the hole for the fill hose you're golden.

Step 7: Using the Fill Station

Picture of Using the Fill Station

Now for the fun. Hand out the squirt guns and let your kids know you'll turn the hose on them if they so much as get a drop on you.


pmuhammad dwi (author)2016-01-10


Man with Plan (author)2012-04-03

although this is an awesome idea, I must point out the child proof door knob opener on the hose nozzle. that is GENIUS! i have been cranking mine super tight because my 3yo loves turning it on... you have not only saved me water on supersoaker Sundays, but also during "off season" (Mon-Sat) when the kid is playing.

ww1aero (author)2010-06-27

Why not just hold them underwater in the plastic tub until the bubbles stop exiting?

Kinnishian (author)ww1aero2010-06-29

I really thought you meant the children, and I was a little uh, yah.


gabebillings (author)ww1aero2010-06-27

It doesn't work, as I've mentioned before. At least with the cheapo guns I was using. I don't know if the hole is too small, or what. No matter how I orient the guns, they get barely a trickle into them.

owl box (author)gabebillings2010-06-28

Problem might be air pressure inside the gun? Maybe put another tiny air hole with a heated awl or drill, near the nozzle?

gabebillings (author)owl box2010-06-28

I'm pretty sure that's the problem. I can fill them myself, but it involved shaking the gun a little, and squeezing the trigger a little bit. The problem that my three year old wasn't quite able to go through the gyrations to get water into them. This helps with hand-eye coordination, too.

jamwaffles (author)2010-06-27

EPIC! Now someone needs to make one for the older kids, full of BBs for their arsoft rifles :P

Kasm279 (author)jamwaffles2010-07-03

Why not paintballs for paintball markers? :P

jamwaffles (author)Kasm2792010-07-04

Lol that would also rock

Kasm279 (author)jamwaffles2010-07-04

Then again, all you would need would be a box of paint and a scoop...

jamwaffles (author)Kasm2792010-07-04

Lol what if you were using paintballs :P

Kasm279 (author)jamwaffles2010-07-04

Thats what i was referring to when I said paint lol.

jamwaffles (author)Kasm2792010-07-05

Oh my apologies XD

KuddlKat (author)2010-07-03

I like the tattoos. So, he's gotten 5 "kills" and is now reloading, eh?

xanxor (author)2010-06-29

Love the fact that you were in a rush but still had time to make an instructable XD

gabebillings (author)xanxor2010-06-30

This is actually v2. A day after the party I went back and rebuilt the whole thing so I could get pictures, then I wrote the Instructable.

psbatra (author)2010-06-30

SOOOOO AWESOME AND GENIUS! ...As a mother of 2 boys (3 of you count my husband) and a whole arsenal of water guns I am totally aware of how futile it is to fill the guns in a bucket of just doesn't work...

Timfa (author)2010-06-30

I wish i was one of those guys like you, with enough random stuff lying around to build awesome stuff with :D

selvaraman.R (author)2010-06-30

how to make the power suplay and driver circuit

Ward_Nox (author)2009-08-24

so basically a fountain...damn why did i never think of that

kebmoore (author)Ward_Nox2010-06-29

I know! Doesn't it seem obvious once someone does it first?

kderevan (author)2010-06-29

I don't have any little ones in residence to make this for, but I want to thank you for the rich evocation of the essence of summer I got from seeing this! Takes me back to my childhood with my three brothers!

catfan63 (author)2010-06-29

Is that kid smoking? Sorry, I couldn't resist. Cool idea... thanks for sharing!

Kiteman (author)2009-08-24

Excellent idea, and a brilliant idea for a party; hand out the empty guns, show them the filling station, then you've got time to get safely inside before they fight starts. The adults can then spend the party watching through the window, with a nice cup of coffee. When it's time for the party to stop, switch of the power supply to the fountain and wiat until the guns run dry...

balloondoggle (author)Kiteman2010-06-28

Are you kidding me??? The action is in the YARD with the KIDS!!! I can stand in the kitchen with my coffee any day, but a full-blown, all-out squirt gun fight only happens on the weekends. Put me on the list of "Dads who bring the BIG GUNS to the water fight"! I had the first Super Soaker on my street - and we didn't even have kids yet. I love that this instructible keeps the water waste to a minimum while still allowing full water action. Great idea.

FaerieAne2003 (author)2010-06-28

Your filling station idea is brilliant! We are building one this weekend. My son is also 5, and loves to play in water, especially with the waterhose. It seems like I'm constantly after him to leave it alone, nearly every single time we go outside. I don't think it was mentioned in the text, but in a photo, I noticed one of those "baby-proof" doorknob covers over the water faucet handle. Sir, that idea is absolute GENIUS! It's rather nasty business to be attempting to build a bonfire, and catch a cold stream full-blast right between the shoulder blades. I'm going TODAY to get another doorknob cover. Thank you SO MUCH!!!

zack247 (author)2010-06-27

great idea! and some incredible work done in such a short amount of time! great job!

DieCastoms (author)2010-06-27

I would love to try to build a more permanent version of this, though I love how dreadfully simple yours is..........Maybe a PVC pipe across the top with the holes in that so the water comes straight down in a line... PVC legs to support it, and an adapter up to a larger size PVC on top of one leg so you could you large drain pipe for the reservoir. Maybe this idea could double for a plant watering station or even a pet toy if you have a small dog that likes playing in water........ just an idea (or three)

zack247 (author)DieCastoms2010-06-27

reading the first sentence, you have inspired me.

KittyF (author)2010-06-27

My husband and daughters have as much fun as the grandkids, esp if they have the bigger gun. Try the 6 liter squirt gun mod on here. looks fun.

seamster (author)2009-08-24

Very nice. Thanks for posting this! (I especially got a kick out of the child safety knob on the hose faucet!)

gabebillings (author)seamster2009-08-24

Those child safety knobs are a must, otherwise I'd have $1000 water bills every month. The 5 year old can get through a door with them on, but can't make the faucets work. Yet.

seamster (author)gabebillings2009-08-24

I understand completely. Five year olds can be very expensive.

cre8vldy (author)seamster2010-06-27

You think 5 is expensive...just wait until teenage years!

PCfreak (author)seamster2009-08-25

you could always Remove the knob ,drill a hole in a section of the handle put a piece of soild wire through it and hang the knob up high i did this one time and saved close to $600 one month

kappaema (author)2010-03-05

Youre great with kids.

frediojoe (author)2009-09-07

that is sooooooooooo cool i wish my parents did that!

vital277 (author)2009-09-06

That's a pretty cool idea.

man5000000 (author)2009-09-03


MiKOTRON (author)2009-08-31

It looks like a lot more fun than just dunking the squirt gun in a bucket of water. I like this idea quite a bit! Great job, thanks!

zascecs (author)2009-08-31

Can't you just dump the water gun into a bucket of water? It's a lot faster and simpler to do and probably cheaper. no offense though, this is a cool instructable.

gabebillings (author)zascecs2009-08-31

You'd think so, but for some reason it doesn't work. We've got some better quality squirt guns, like mini super soakers that work fine when they're dunked. But these were super-cheap little crappy guns. When you hold them underwater, no matter which direction you turn them, they won't fill up. It sorta works if you pump it while it's underwater, but that's slow going.

soccer2291 (author)2009-08-30

come one, come all! Step right up to see the best invention yet. No not the cure to cancer, no Mamm not a pet washing station. The one the only, (drum roll please) THE BUCKET OF WATER

gabebillings (author)soccer22912009-08-30

Thanks for the positive comments! I'm glad you think so highly of it.

Vynash (author)2009-08-29

Hmm looks pretty cool!

Mandrew (author)2009-08-26

Really great job, but for a minute there I thought your child was smoking.

WhatULive4 (author)Mandrew2009-08-28

Smoking and tattoos... I was think of what a horrible father this guy was.

chopstx (author)Mandrew2009-08-28


About This Instructable




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