Copper Pipe Japanese Shishi-odoshi Fountain




Shishi-odoshi, or "scare the deer" is a Japanese water fountain traditionally made of bamboo. I had some copper pipe left over from a plumbing project so I thought I would use them to make this unique fountain. Originally I saw the fountain in Kill Bill Vol. 1 and it always intrigued me. Using copper instead of bamboo should make it last much longer and the copper should develop a patina over time that will make it look even better. I have a small garden in the corner of my yard that I put it in with some stones and plants.

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Step 1: Materials, Tools, Visualization

The materials I used are 1/2" and 3/4" copper pipe, two T-fittings, two elbows, a pair of end-caps, a black, plastic, hanging garden bowl I found at the Home Depot for $3 or $4, a piece of 1/4" threaded rod and nut, small nuts and bolts, some black plastic tubing and a small submersible fountain pump from Harbour Freight.

Tools include solder, a propane torch, sandpaper, pipe cutter, drill and bits, and solder flux. If you choose not to solder the pipe, you could also just glue them together with an epoxy since none of it has to be water-tight. You don't even have to be that good at soldering as you need to just use enough to stabilize the piping.

the only plan I had for the fountain was totally in my head. I just started building it piece by piece and it materialized. You can do the same by looking at my pics of the build.

Step 2: Cutting the Pipe and Test-fitting

I cut all the pipe to the lengths that I visualized. I "dry-fitted" them together and adjusted the length as needed. I thoguht of making a cross piece below the pivot for stabilization. The pivoting cross piece is made of a 3/4" pipe that is cut at an angle at one end. A smaller 1/2" cross piece was then cut out with a notch and was atached to the 3/4" piece. I tied some sopper wire around it to simulate twine or rope. I test fitted all the pieces and then ran a test to make sure it pivoted correctly. The trick it that when the pipe is empty, the lower half has to be heavier than the top half. This is accomplished by puttign a rubber or copper stopper inside the 3/4" pipe somewhere near the pivot. This need to be adjusted until it works properly. It will first fill up and then just teeter tottor back and forth without expelling all the water adn falling back. I adjusted the stopper until it worked correctly. When the water is heaveir thatn the enpty part of the tube, it will teeter forward and expel the water, then fall back with a knock. The back part shgoudl be supported by something like a rock, or a clay pot as I have done in the final presentation.

Step 3: Soldering Together the Pipe

Once everything is laid out, you can solder together the pipe. Clean the pipe with the sandpaper and then apply the flux. Put together the pipe adn light the torch and apply heat to the pipe joint. When it is hot and you see the flux bubbling, apply the solder around the fitting adn the solder will draw into the joint. Wipe clean the solder with a cloth rag. It doesn't have to be perfect or water tight as the water going up the pipe will go thru a smaller tube, not the copper pipe. If you don't like to solder, then glue the pieces together with epoxy or super glue. Drill a hole for the threaded rod in the two uprights. I put a small sqaure nut insdie one pipe adn then threaded the rod into it. The other end can go in the hole of the other upright and when it is soldered together it will sit in the hole and pivot.

Step 4: The Base Water Bowl

Drill two holes in the edge of the plastic flower pot. Drill holes in the center of the two copper pipe end caps. Take the bolt and thread it thru the end cap, the pot and then use a washer and nut to attach. This will hold your uprights and the fountain. You could also make the upright go longer and just stake it into the soil in the garden if you prefer. The fountain pump will go in the bottom of the pot.

Step 5: Thread the Pump Tubing Thru the Copper Pipe

Drill a hole in the leg of the taller upright above where it will sit in the end caps. Thread the pump tubing up thru the upright and past the pivot and out the top. I then added the spout and did not solder it so it can be adjusted. The tubing would burn if it were soldered. You can adjust the spout so that t drops the water in the correct spot into the beveled part of the 3/4" pipe. You can also shorten or lengthen it if needed.

Step 6: And Now for Your Moment of Zen...

I put mine in the garden and filled the bowl with stones. I used a old terra cotta pot as the striker and hid the wire to the pump under the dirt. I had to make some adjustmetns but you can see in the video that it works. the pump is probably pumping a little fast in teh video, but it can be adjusted. The pump also has a filter so it can be cleaned out if dirt happens to get into the water. Any questions, please comment. Enjoy!

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    8 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Definitely going to make one.

    Videos not working :(


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Very, very cool. I've been wanting to make one of these for a long time. You did a great job. I would like to see the actual dimensions for the copper pipe though.

    I am definitely going to make one of these. I will pair it with my instructable "Easy Garden Pagoda" for my Zen garden!

    Thank you for your post.

    It doesn't make the pronounced sound of a bamboo one but more of a gentle ping. I think that if you were to use a larger diameter pipe it would make a louder sound.


    There are videos attached, see "Video of Fountain" above. Pardon the sideways appearance I don't have vidoe editting software to fix it.