Tealight candle holder

This was a spur of the moment project that came about as we were preparing for our wedding and packing up my shop before selling the house and moving everything into storage. I have this sometimes annoying habit of saving every scrap of wood as I always think I can use it in another build, which posed some issues when packing up. Well just so happens this time it paid off. Made from scrap wood that I had left over from various other projects and now to become a regular product for me to make. These are the first round of tealight candle holders used as centerpieces at our wedding and now serving proudly at houses around the US. We display a few at home still as a stand alone, but for the wedding we chose to use black pipe fixtures of varying lengths with flange fittings to display them on.

Initial glue up before turning
Following planing of scraps. Glue and clamp in preparation for turning

So to start this project you first save every scrap of wood for about a year, don’t worry about that overflowing barrel of scraps they will be put to good use….alright, half of them still end up on the shop floor but never know what will work. The only real limiting factor here is length as I had to run each piece through the planer to make a good surface to glue them all together. Other than that I used everything from white oak and maple to walnut and cherry. Pictured is walnut and maple which I have always enjoyed using together. I think they compliment each other fairly well and the maple is always a joy working with. This particular set gave a basic two tone look in the end showing a descent grain pattern after turning. An example of that set is in the featured image at the top of the post. One of the more complex sets that I have done was also with maple and walnut but after turning gave the illusion of a corkscrew. The glue up for that was with the boards laying on an angle like a stack of dominoes about to fall over, if that makes sense. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of that glue up as it took awhile to finally get pressure on the stack without it sliding apart and by that point was just not thinking to document it. One thing I did note though is that when cutting into shorter pieces I will need a steeper angle as it is not as noticeable of a design once cut down to size. Also, will be making the spacing more consistent so the corkscrew looks more genuine.

Maple and walnut corkscrew before cutting to length

Once the glue has plenty of time to dry, overnight preferably, I ran them through a table saw to get the rough dimensions I wanted before placing in the lathe. Being all of these are made from scrap pieces there was really no set dimensions. The only factor to consider at this stage was not to be larger than the flange fitted to the black pipe and still be large enough to drill the pocket for the tealight candle to fit into.

The turning process was by far the easiest step, not that the other steps were difficult, but I find the turning process to be a little relaxing so may just be a personal thing. Fairly self explanatory as the pictures sum up nicely. To start I had marked some centers on each end then center punched and drilled a very shallow hole to align the centers when setting up in the lathe. After the first one I did start cutting a forty-five degree off each length using the table saw to help expedite things by removing that excess material that would have otherwise had to have been removed through the turning process. This I found also helped when turning the cherry as that seemed to pose the most resistance to turning.

Before and After turning
Before turning on left and after turning pictured right

Following the turning I cut them all to length. The dimension for the length was primarily based on two things: First, to get the most from each piece I turned I chose lengths that used all of the material to the best of my ability. To determine this I chose a final length that could be divided into the whole length evenly (plus blade thickness of course, who ever forgets to account for that, right???) Second, I chose a length that was visually appealing and not so short as to make the holder almost invisible. Tealight candles are very short so as to fit into small areas such as essential oil and wax tart (yes, I looked it up, it is a wax tart) warmers. You know these things, they show up in the fall or during the holiday season to make your place smell like pine or cinnamon or another festive scent. They are usually snowmen or Christmas tree shaped, if unsure a quick trip to a Hallmark store or a simple Google search will satisfy. So, to get back on track, the candles are made very short so I made the holders about twice the height. After cutting each length down to size I used a forstner bit to drill a hole just deep enough to accept the candle. I preferred making these to accept a tealight candle as they leave no mess behind when they are finished burning as most all of them have a stamped metal shell around them to hold all the melted wax. You could try using a votive candle but clean up would be an issue without placing a liner in the pocket where the candle goes.

Wedding Centerpiece
And now folks for a professional photo….yep, taken by our photographer at our wedding

We only use these for decoration but can be done in so many ways for more practical purposes. Imagination is the only limit with this project.

As always please share any comments, suggestions, or your own story. Always nice to hear other perspectives and experiences.

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