Subscribe to Make Magazine Today!

Make: Projects

New Project: Laminar Flow Water Fountain

Make a cheap, high-tech nozzle to eliminate turbulence and create incredible water effects.

New Project: Laminar Flow Water Fountain

By Larry Cotton and Phil Bowie

Laminar-flow water charms and fascinates. It behaves quite differently from ordinary turbulent water, such as the flow from a faucet or garden hose. A laminar stream is so perfect it could pass for a glass rod. It doesn’t splash upon hitting a surface, it will conduct light like a fiber-optic cable, and it’s so cohesive, it will enwrap and levitate a smooth sphere, even at a surprising angle to the vertical.

In 2011, we drove 600 miles from our North Carolina homes to Disney’s Epcot theme park to study the “Leap Frog” fountain, which chops a laminar stream into arcs, creating impish, cavorting water creatures. We’ve been obsessed with laminar flow phenomena ever since, joining an online cult of experimenters.

We have achieved laminar flow simply and inexpensively by making a nozzle from a big plastic peanut butter jar, scrub pads, drinking straws, and standard PVC pipe and hose fittings. A fine way to show off its elegant stream is to build a fountain using this nozzle as its heart. It’s easy to make, and can produce captivating shapes or even levitate lightweight spheres.

Larry Cotton

Larry Cotton

Larry Cotton is a semi-retired power-tool designer and part-time community college math instructor. He loves music and musical instruments, computers, birds, electronics, furniture design, and his wife — not necessarily in that order.

  • Elegant Ground Water Features

    Those are lovely water features! I wish I had one at home but I’m afraid my cat might use it as his personal drinking fountain, hahaha!

  • Shade

    How big is .08 of an inch?


      really? OMFG LOL

      • Umadbro

        What he might not use inches … Cm is what most people use now day’s

    • taddy

      Yeah_Google is actually what most people use nowaday…

  • taddy

    Approx 14GA sheet, 12AWG, 14SWG, #46 drill bit, 5/64″, or 2.032mm.

  • Pingback: Laminar Water Jets from Copper Pipe, Scotchbrite, and Drinking Straws | MAKE()

Related Supplies at Maker Shed