A friend of mine sent me a photo of 3 house shaped candleholders and I immediately thought, "Holiday gifts!" You could finish these in a weekend, with very minimal costs.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
(this list will give you 8 sets)
1 6' 4x4 pine board
Combination square (not absolutely necessary, but nice to have)
Band saw or jig saw
Drill press or hand drill
Forstner bit (size depends on what candles you buy)
Stain or paint (whatever you want to use to decorate your candleholders)
Fire retardent spray
Step 1: CUT THE BOARD TO SIZE
You can make these as big or as small as you like. I cut the board into 3 sizes, 4.5", 3.5", and 2.5" with the radial arm saw. This gave me 8 sets of blocks plus a bit of scrap in case I messed up.
Step 2: DRAW THE HOUSE SHAPE
Next step is to mark the house shape. For the 2 larger sizes, I marked center and then used a combination square to make 45 degree angles.
For the smaller ones, I marked the center, drew a horizontal line, them connected the center mark to the outside marks.
Step 3: CUT OUT THE HOUSE SHAPE
After I marked all the blocks, I used the band saw to cut out the house shape. Try to get as close as possible to the lines that you drew, this will save you a lot of time sanding in the next step. The smell of the pine when cutting all these really got me in the holiday spirit!
Step 4: SAND THE HOUSES
So now you have little houses, probably with some burn marks on the roof. Sand the roof of each house, turning it over frequently. That way, you sand equally on both sides of the roof and the houses stay symmetrical. This is also a good time to fix any boo-boos you made with the band saw.
Of course, the houses don't have to be symmetrical. You can make them any shape you want. I made some of the smaller ones into modern 1 story ranch-style homes. After you get the shape you want, sand the sides and bottom until the house is uniformly smooth on all sides.
Step 5: DRILL HOLES FOR CANDLES
A Forstner bit will make quick work out of drilling and give you a flat bottom for the candles to sit in. I used a 13/16 Forstner bit in the drill press, because that was the size of the candles I liked.
I clamped the houses down, and clamped the clamp to the press. Go slow on this, I had a few houses move on me and got some gouging (a note on fixing this later). You could do this with a hand drill as well, but it will take a while.
Step 6: SPRAY FIRE RETARDENT
I don't know if this step is completely necessary, but hey, better safe than sorry, right? I am giving these as gifts and will have no control over how someone chooses to use them. I don't want to be responsible for someone burning down their house :/
I bought this spray at amazon.com. These are photos of the houses before, during, and after spraying. The bottle didn't say how long to let the spray soak in/dry, so I let them dry overnight.
I'm not sure if I sprayed too much on or what, but the next morning my houses had these spots of white crystals on them, so I had to sand them all over again. I didn't mind too much, the spray had raised the grain and I would have had to sand again anyway.
Step 7: FILL IN CRACKS OR MISTAKES
I filled in the gouges that the drill bit made with what I had on hand, which was walnut plastic wood. I knew I was going to paint the tops of those anyway, so it didn't matter.
Step 8: DECORATE
I experimented with what I had on hand and like the Varathane Bleached Wood the best. I paired it with some gold spray paint for a couple sets. I even did a flat black for kicks. You can really get creative here. Have fun!