A Tornado Worked Into Your Home Decor!? (Vortex Water Feature!)

by OnTheFly...DIY
13 Materials
2 Hours
Control your own tornado by making your own sleek, modern Vortex Water Feature! Whether with a planter as a base or set up over a pond, it's an easy process to create this incredibly unique focal point in your own home.
Here’s your supply list:

One large clear cylinder – you can go with glass or acrylic.  I found this vase with thick glass at a local home décor store. It measures 14 and a half inches tall by 8 and a half inches wide.  You’ll want a wide base cylinder as you’ll be drilling holes in the bottom.  The wider the base, the stronger the bottom will be.  You could also use a cylindrical aquarium for this project.

Two 90 degree, half inch elbows.  I found these with the drip irrigation items in my local home improvement store. 

Half inch PVC couplings with female threads at both ends – you’ll need four total.  Check out the plumbing section of your local home improvement store for these.

Two 18 inch flexible risers with male connections at both ends.  These can also be found at a home improvement store.

A large planter – mine measures 15 inches tall and almost 20 inches wide at the top.  This will serve as the base so make sure it’s sturdy and if there are any drainage holes, plug them up. 

A metal support grate – I’m recycling my used charcoal grill because if its size and strength.  You could also use plants stands which can fit inside or on top of your planter base.  This will be holding your cylinder full of water so it needs to be strong and relatively unbendable.

Two fish pond pumps.  While I tried the one pump with a tee joint as a splitter option, I wasn’t happy with the amount of power I got.  I found that a more robust vortex resulted when I used two pumps.

Decorative rock large enough not to fall into your support grate.

A dremel with a cutting wheel.
A marker and measuring tape.
A 3/4 inch hole saw diamond bit and a drill.
Measure the bottom of your cylinder and mark dead center with a marker.  You’ll also be making a mark on two spots across from each other for the water intake holes.
Using your diamond bit, start drilling the holes where you marked.  If you’ve never drilled through glass or tile before, start by running a constant stream of water where you will be drilling.  This is imperative or your glass will shatter!  Hold the drill at a 45 degree angle to start at one side of your hole.  After you’ve created a little divot, slowly straighten out the bit to catch the rest of the glass.  Be patient, go slow, and let the bit do the work.  Thick glass does take time so take some breaks to avoid hand fatigue.   
When you’ve finished, you should have one hole in the middle for the vortex and two opposite each other on the outer edge.
Place a coupling on each of the pumps and hand screw tightly. 
Your grate will need to be able to fit the couplings through.  Since the metal rods on the grate are so close together, I used a dremel to cut a few away where the hoses would be so everything would fit. 
Place your pumps with risers inside the planter.  Next place your grate on top of the planter.  Feed the risers up through the grate.
Place your 90 degree elbows into each of the cylinder’s outer holes and feed them through.  You’ll want them facing opposite of each other to shoot the water in a swirling pattern.  Use a coupling on each to secure the elbows to the glass. 
Connect the couplings on the bottom of your cylinder to the risers coming up out of the grate.  After hand tightening, fit the couplings down into the grate so the cylinder sits level on top. 
Fill the planter with water so that the pumps are fully submerged.  You’ll want to keep adding water when you turn on the pumps as the water level will fall when the cylinder fills up.
Place decorative rocks around the cylinder until the grate is fully hidden. 
Finish now and you’ve got a striking water feature you can use indoors or out.  But I’ve got a couple more ideas for you…
Add several drops of food coloring to the top of the vortex for a custom look.  Match your vortex with your home’s color palette or color it up for game day parties. 
Your vortex isn’t just for planter set ups.  Since I’ve already got a small pond, I wanted to combine the two water features into one impactful focal point.  And the set up is just as easy as the planter version. 
I used a plant stand to support the cylinder just above the pond’s water level.  A cut anti-fatigue mat placed under the plant stand cushions the pond liner from the weight and provides a flatter base.  Ensure the cylinder sits level so your vortex is straight and runs smoothly. 
Place your pumps in the pond next to the stand and connect the risers to the cylinder’s couplings.  You can hide the pumps and risers with large rock so they aren’t noticeable. 

In a planter or over a pond, inside or outside, the Vortex Water Feature is a sleek, modern take on the classic use of water in décor!  
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Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  3 questions
  • Tim Walters Tim Walters on May 09, 2018

    I'm going to try this with solar powered pumps outside. I'm not sure if they will be strong enough maybe I can use a smaller glass. One question though does the one that you have outside collect bugs and other things that are trying to get a drink? One solution to the electricity and water problem would be to use a rechargeable drill at 12 volts.

  • Brenda Rae Pike Brenda Rae Pike on Jun 28, 2018

    Could I use this vase?

    comment photo
  • Dawn Dawn on Apr 29, 2019

    I would like to do this smaller, about half this size. Can you give me some ideas?

    Thanks, dtyson67@aol.com

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2 of 19 comments
  • Tish Tish on Apr 29, 2020

    Beautiful project with excellent instructions... so many neglect to tell people that drilling glass needs to be slow, with careful soft pressure and it’s okay to take a break so not to make your project break... and to flush with water whilst drilling to keep the site cool and lubricated.

    Thank you for sharing and I hope anyone who does this posts their results and gives you credit for the idea!

  • Spanky Spanky on Apr 29, 2020

    Thank you!! I've been wanting one of these for awhile. Appreciate the idea an instructions. 👍👍