Introduction: Copper Pipe Candelabra

Picture of Copper Pipe Candelabra

Copper pipe candelabras not only look great, but also make a great gift to make this holiday season. Flex your maker muscles and put together your own version easily, and show off your artistic flair, too!

You can buy artisanal copper pipe candelabras, but they are way overpriced. Show someone special how crafty you are by giving a handmade candelabra for less than half what you can buy them for. Did I mentioned they are super easy to make? Here's how to make your own, for yourself or as a gift this holiday season.

Let's make!

Step 1: Copper Fittings

Picture of Copper Fittings

Make a trip to the plumbing aisle of your local hardware store and look for the copper pipe fittings. I used 3/4" pipe and fittings for this project, as the threaded end cap fits tall candles perfectly.

Having a few designs in mind, I grabbed the 45°, 90°, T, and screw connectors for each design, as well as about 3' of 3/4" copper pipe. You'll also need a copper pipe cutter.

Copper can be an expensive metal, so it's best to go with a design in mind to prevent overspending.

Step 2: Cut Conecting Pipe

Picture of Cut Conecting Pipe

To join the components together a small section of copper pipe is used as a connecting piece. Measure a small section of pipe and clamp the pipe cutter to spot where you want to cut. Slowly tighten the pipe cutter until you feel it bite into the pipe and then roll the pipe cutter around the pipe, you'll see a small indent where the wheel in the cutter has scored the pipe. Tighten the cutter a few turns and repeat rolling it around the pipe again, making a deeper indent. Continue this process until you've cut through the pipe.

Repeat this process for all sections of pipe you need for your design.

Step 3: Plan Out Connections

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It's a good idea to lay out your design to ensure you have all the components cut and measured correctly.

Step 4: Epoxy Connections in Stages

Picture of Epoxy Connections in Stages

Epoxy is a permanent bond. Choose an epoxy that is appropriate for bonding metal, otherwise your connections might be weak. Since you only have one shot to get all your connections right, it's best to do them in stages.

I started with the connections that I knew would be easy. In this design it was the candle holder to the 90° elbow. Mixing up the 2-part epoxy on a scrap piece of wood a small dab was applied to the inside of the elbow connector, and the inside of the fluted candle holder. After, the copper collar cuts earlier was inserted and the two pieces were set aside to let the epoxy cure. The same process was applied to all other connections that could be made in the first stage.

Step 5: Finish Connections

Picture of Finish Connections

After all the initial connections are made we can assemble the components into one large piece.

I bought my copper pipe in a coil, so it already had a slight bend. Copper is soft enough to bend by hand, however pieces under 1' (300mm) will be difficult to bend without the aid of a tube bender. Best to plan out your bends ahead of time on a large section of pipe and make the bends before cutting your connecting pipe.

Mixing up new epoxy the joined connecting pieces can be glued to the sections of longer pipe. Depending on your design you may have to brace your creation with clamps or tape to hold the shape until the epoxy cures.

Step 6: Copper Treatment

Picture of Copper Treatment

Depending on the type of finish you want you can apply a treatment to copper to give it an aged patina or a brilliant shine.

Base treatments such as pot ash (or concrete) will age the copper and make it molted, whereas acidic treatments like lemons will give a bright finish. Both look great, it just depends on your taste.

Of course this is optional, you can leave your copper untreated and it will age to a nice amber color.

Step 7: Protect

Picture of Protect

After applying your treatment you'll need to seal your candelabra with a clear coat finish.

Hang your creations in a well ventilated area and spray to cover completely. I applied a few coats to ensure good coverage, waiting in between applications.

Step 8: Felt Feet

Picture of Felt Feet

To protect from scratching your tabletop, felt feet were placed on the bottom of the candelabra. I found these felt feet at the Dollar Store and they have a peel-and-stick adhesive backing. Larger felt feet can be cut to shape and stuck the bottom of the candelabra.

Step 9: Light Up the Evening

Picture of Light Up the Evening

These candelabras take the standard 3/4" diameter candles. You can usually find these candles in bulk or at least in a multi-pack. Whether you cut the candles down to size or leave them full length, always check your candelabra for stability before lighting the candles.

Your custom made candelabras are sure to be a highlight for the recipient, and during dinner.

Have you made your own copper pipe candelabra? I want to see it!

Share a picture of your version of this project in the comments below and be awarded a 3-month Pro Membership on Instructables!


gizmologist made it! (author)2017-05-07

Got the idea from you, but mine is electric...

mikeasaurus (author)gizmologist2017-05-08

That's a very clever twist on this idea. Nice job!

azizkres (author)2016-10-04

I love this!! I love the coper color and repurposing it in this way. Creative!

mikeasaurus (author)azizkres2016-10-04

Make your own, I'd love to see your version!

SortaTrek made it! (author)2016-01-17

Thanks for such a great instructable! It gave me an idea of what to do with all of the old copper I pulled out of my house during a remodel 2 years ago. I used a warm water, salt, and vinegar mix to clean up the copper, followed by some gentle steel wool (0000). It was too cold to use a spray finish outside and I don't like using sprays in the house, so I used a floor polish for a protective coat. I made 8 total, of varying difficulty. The one pictured here was a variation of yours, but with a third candle added. It was quite a challenge to get all of the angles just right so that the 3 candles ended up plumb. Thanks, again.

mikeasaurus (author)SortaTrek2016-01-19

Great work! The hardest part was figuring out eh complex geometry, looks like you nailed it - and with an extra candle holder, too!

Thanks for sharing a picture of your creation, enjoy the Pro Membership!

SortaTrek (author)mikeasaurus2016-01-23

Mikeasaurus, Thanks so much for the Pro membership! I added another picture of some of the other candle holders I made as holiday gifts. Thanks again for such a great Instructable.

bryanwithaytx made it! (author)2015-12-09

This was a great project! Sometimes I get the "buildbug" and was looking for a quick project that I could know out in an evening and found your 'able. The patina process I used was dissolving salt into white vinegar and spraying it down and letting it rest overnight. A water wash to clean it up, stuck it in the oven as I didn't want to wait for to dry naturally, make sure you don't cook this!! Then a couple coats of clear and boom, homemade beauty!

Looking great, and I like the design. Neat trick with the oven.

Thanks for sharing pictures of your creation, enjoy the Pro Membership!

Edbed (author)2015-07-28

Looks great

JorgeL1 (author)2015-03-19

denthor (author)2015-02-23

I made this today for our 7th wedding anniversary. Thanks for the Instructable

mikeasaurus (author)denthor2015-02-23

That's fancy!

Congratulations on your anniversary, and thanks for sharing a picture. Enjoy the Pro Membership.

violingirl made it! (author)2014-12-25

This made a great Christmas present.

Merry Christmas!!!!!

mikeasaurus (author)violingirl2014-12-30

Nice design! Enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership.

I hope the recipient likes it

violingirl (author)mikeasaurus2014-12-31

They really liked it!

Thanks for the Pro Membership!

canemaker49 (author)2014-12-10

this is great stuff!! nice instruction, i like the details on the finishing. i will try this after Christmas, lol...i hope to see more ibles from you. great work!!

dimitris006 made it! (author)2014-12-04

Great idea. A cool detailed instractable. Thanks for sharing.

mikeasaurus (author)dimitris0062014-12-05

That looks great, thanks for sharing! Is that for you, or a gift for someone?

Enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership.

dimitris006 (author)mikeasaurus2014-12-05

Thank you. This is for me, but I have already two "orders" from friends, until now... I intend to make some additional designs too.

Thank you for the 3-month Pro as well.

soostveen1 made it! (author)2014-12-01

Thanks for the awesome instructable! I loved planning and making this one! And the result is awesome!

mikeasaurus (author)soostveen12014-12-01

That looks great! Thanks for sharing your design, enjoy the 3-month Pro!

ooohlaa (author)2014-11-27

very cool ... i used to make windchimes out of copper pipe so I have the pipe cutter ... thanx luvlee

michelle.g.lathe (author)ooohlaa2014-11-29

Do you have pictures of the windchimes you made? That sounds pretty cool.

ibwebb (author)2014-11-27

I really enjoyed your instructable. it was complete, informative, and I really found it easy to read/follow. Though, I am a bit jealous I never thought of this before. I hope to make some of these soon and I will be sure to come back to post the pictures. Thanks again for sharing. OH almost forgot. I noticed in one picture you had salt when treating the copper. What effect does salt give to the copper? Could you solder these instead of the epoxy when making them?

mikeasaurus (author)ibwebb2014-11-27

The salt acts as an abrasive.

I tried soldering the pipe initially, but found that the heat discoloured that pipe and I didn't care for the appearance of the silver of any solder around the joints. The pipe discolouration from heat can't be fixed with the lemon polish, as it's more than surface oxidation. I have a picture somewhere of my first attempts using solder and the pipe turning a dark , I'll see if I can find one.

ibwebb (author)mikeasaurus2014-11-27

I did not think of the heat from it discoloring it and that would take away from it in my opinion. So epoxy it is. Thank you for answering me. I look forward to making one of these as soon as the Holiday season calms a bit.

bricobart (author)2014-11-25

Great project! I'm sure that if you add brass covers with a hole drilled in it instead of candles, a few wicks and the whole reservoir filled with lamp oil - or kerosene - you would have awesome oil lamps ;)

Bowtie41 (author)bricobart2014-11-27

bricobart,That IS a cool idea!Might have to try that too!

Jim Davidson made it! (author)2014-11-27

Nice work Mike. I've always loved the look of copper and brass. Your work reminds me stuff I made 35 odd years ago although, I sweated (soldered) all the joints and gave most of my work a high polish. A couple of years ago I discovered I could make a living at it. I work pretty much on custom commissions now and many of my spec pieces are shown in local art galleries here in Los Angeles. As you can see, my art has gotten a bit more complicated and is in the "Steampunk" genre.

captainhurt (author)2014-11-27

i'd rather turn the light switch ON. done. :-)

dreamagine (author)captainhurt2014-11-27

wow. I am pretty sure you don't get the point. :) Yeah this isn't the stone age . . . yet its more of a design element for a shelf or table. Good day to you.

marcellahella (author)2014-11-27

It look really nice!

wgovideo (author)2014-11-25

That's sharp! Nicely done..

kgibby (author)2014-11-25

Beautiful! I'd really like to try this some time. Pipes are so versatile in the DIY world these days!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!
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