Introduction: Laser Cut Candle Holders

Picture of Laser Cut Candle Holders

Inspired by those awesome Moroccan cutout lanterns, I made a set of three laser cut candle holders, perfect for small votive candles or tea lights.  All the laser cutting for the project was done at TechShop SF

Step 1: 3D Modeling

Picture of 3D Modeling

I modeled the candle holders in AutoCAD by drawing two boxes and subtracting the inner volume from the outer box.  I exported this shape from AutoCAD as a single stl file.  I've attached the dwg and stl files below, the candle holder measures 3"x3" and 4" tall.

I imported the stl file into 123D Make, a free app that lets you prepare your 3d files for laser cutting.  I'm using a new preview version of 123D Make that is not available to the public yet, so I had a lot of control over the type of joints to use for my candle holders.  The public version of 123D Make will be getting regular updates in the coming moths, so hopefully you will be able to use these features soon too!

In 123D Make, I set the joint type to finger joint with 11 fingers for each joint.  I specified the dimensions of my material and 123D Make created 2D vector files with the correct finger size and fit them onto sheets for laser cutting.

Step 2: Adding Cut-Out Patterns

Picture of Adding Cut-Out Patterns

I imported the eps files from 123D Make into Corel Draw and drew in some patterns on the four walls of the candle holders.  I made the cut-outs fairly detailed, I'm hoping they will cast some interesting shadows.  The image above shows the final file I sent to the laser cutter (I've also attached this below).

Step 3: Laser Cutting

Picture of Laser Cutting

I cut out my parts out of 1/4" (0.24" to be specific) plywood on an Epilog120 laser cutter at TechShop SF.  If you do not have access to a laser cutter, consider using an online fabrication service like Ponoko.

Step 4: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

I glued the pieces of the three candle holders together with wood glue.  I bought three small votive candles from a local Walgreens, lit them and carefully placed them in the holders... and that's it!  Please, remember that wood (especially laser cut wood) is flammable.  If you decide to make something like this, never leave the flame unattended.


Inscribe Kenya (author)2017-08-13

Hi there... that's an amazing project. however which wood is this?

CarlosD159 (author)2017-07-21


the engraver (author)2015-12-29

What was the setting for your laser? power and speed?

dpizetta (author)2015-12-15

Very very nice :) Thks for sharing. I wish I had a laser cutter or a easy way to find one to make use, but here in Brazil it is really expansive/hard to find. It is in my wish list :)

Raitis (author)dpizetta2015-12-17

You might have better luck with CNC router maybe? That should do if you did a little bit of design editing or even cut as is. Just the finger joints for corners should be changed. ;)

Kreat0r (author)2015-12-14

very creative, looks great!

Denisd21 (author)2015-12-12

very nice!


Seeed Studio (author)2015-12-11

It's beautiful, can't wait to make one.

Hot Pop Factory made it! (author)2015-08-30

This inspired us to make "Branch Lamp" with LGA Architectural Partners! Laser cut from reclaimed wood salvaged locally from our city.

Sameer Safdar (author)2015-08-13


masterURlaser (author)2015-08-12

These look so great!

GarethC made it! (author)2015-05-17

Thank you for sharing this design. I made one this evening and am very happy with it.

Sadly I couldn't wait until the glue dried before trying it out and photographing. It still needs a more vigorous sanding than I can currently get away with. I'll also likely coat / paint it too.

Thanks again!

dk2k made it! (author)2014-06-30

Hi Folks,

I've laser cut a similar "web" candle handler. The details were sandpapered, covered with woodstain and varnished
File was taken from here:

Material: 6 mm plywood

Incujams (author)2014-03-12

Thanks for the reply! Project currently in process!

Incujams (author)2014-03-07

Great design! By chance, do you have this in a downloadable dxf file?

amandaghassaei (author)Incujams2014-03-08

sorry, I was using corel at the time. You can save the cdr as an ai file using corel and from there I think you can save a dxf in illustrator. sorry about that!

puregoldner (author)2014-02-13

I am also making lanterns and hope someone can make a recommendation for a non toxic ply wood that wouldn't off-gas when exposed to the heat of the candle flame?

drusilla (author)2013-08-03

Love this design. I added just a standard tea-candle sized hole to the bottom of the candle holder, so that the candle can be lit first and the decorative holder placed on top after.

Here's a photo of them:

amandaghassaei (author)drusilla2013-08-04

great idea!

pippi46 (author)2012-10-09

Hi very nice job, compliments.
I would like to customize one with my company and put on my website, also mentioning your name and link to your web.
The candle size is 3.11 x 3.11 x h. 2.9
Would you contact me at and let me know how much does it cost

tgirard (author)2012-09-19

Just made the squares and Diamonds on my new FS hobby Laser. All I had was a sheet of 3/16" plywood from Orchard (.210") I simply scaled to 90% and the pieces were tight enough to just press fit together. I'm looking for a cool TIKI bmp for my next set. Thanks again :)

amandaghassaei (author)tgirard2012-09-19

nice! do you have any pics you could post?

blurry74 (author)2012-05-18

They do look good, & we all have laser cutters lying around.

craigthecoder (author)2012-05-17

What is the thickness of the material being used to cut these from? I could work backwards from the design files, but you may have built-in additional tolerances (or perhaps tighter tolerances for more of a friction fit) that would not be obvious from doing measurements of the tabs and slots to ascertain your original intent for material specs. Thank you for sharing!

Thanks for the comment! I used 0.24" plywood.

Cool. Thanks, Amanda.

Jayefuu (author)2012-05-16

Amanda these are beautiful!

Jayefuu (author)Jayefuu2012-05-16

(did you do any acrylic ones?)

amandaghassaei (author)Jayefuu2012-05-17

thanks! no, haven't done any in acrylic. I think I'm going to do another similar project for a light bulb, considering using acrylic for that.

sshpak (author)2012-05-16

yea.. it is sooo easy.. (especially if you have laser cutter)

randofo (author)sshpak2012-05-16

You can use an online service like if you don't have a laser cutter.

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2012-05-16

I didn't know you made these! So awesome!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a grad student at the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT Media Lab. Before that I worked at Instructables, writing code for ... More »
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