The wood that I used to make this live edge tea light holder came out of a friend's orchard. They were trimming their Walnut trees, and this piece was in a pile to be either chipped up or sent to the burn pile. He was nice enough to let me pick through it and pluck out a couple choice pieces. This project came from one of those salvaged pieces.
We all have little weird things that we do. And one of the little weird things that I do when I clean the house is light a candle or tea light in a room when I'm finished cleaning it. It gives me a goal at the end of each room, and makes the room smell even better. There's nothing like having a tea light lit in every room of my house because that usually means I'm done cleaning!
Needless to say, we have candles and tea light holders everywhere. So what's another one? I made this particular holder for our dining room, but it has since relocated to our kitchen.
Now let's talk about what you'll need:
- A Black Walnut Log. (You can really use anything you find on the side of the road.)
- Tea light candles.
- Wipe-on Polyurethane.
These are the tools that I used, in order of appearance. But you can accomplish most of these operations with inexpensive hand tools and some elbow grease.
- Band Saw
- Table Saw
- Measuring Tape
- Drill Press
- 1-5/8" Forstner Drill Bit
- Palm Sander & Sand Paper (150 & 220 grits.)
- Container & a rag to apply the finish.
With that all taken care of, let's make this thing!
Step 1: Resaw Your Log.
A few years ago I re-sawed this log. Re-sawing is a term used for cutting a piece of lumber along the grain to reduce the size into manageable pieces or veneers. I cut this log in half, and then into 8 quarter pieces on my bandsaw for smaller projects like this one.
I don't have any pictures of the re-saw because I wasn't documenting my projects back then. And I haven't used it yet because it wasn't dry. I had it stacked up on stickers drying under a work bench for a long time.
If you look close, you can see some awesome figure in this walnut. Figure is the grain/color/cut "movement" or look in the wood. This particular piece was pretty buggy, so it has a lot of worm holes. Some guys don't like that, but I think it looks awesome as long as the bugs are long gone.
Step 2: Flatten Two Sides.
I used a jointer, because I have one, to flatten the side of my board that I was going to reference against the table saw fence. And the other face was flat enough to run on the table saw bed. It isn't safe to run irregular lumber through the table saw, that's why you need to flatten a couple sides.
There are a few different ways to flatten a board. You can use a jointer, a hand plane, table saw jigs, and there's even a few router jigs you can set up to do this.
Step 3: Cut Off Your Live Edge.
Then I ran this piece through the table saw, and cut off the live edge I would use for the tea light holder. I made a pass on the bottom, then flipped it over and made another pass to free the holder.
I did this because I was using a smaller, and cheaper, blade on the table saw. I've cut up logs like this before from the same orchard and hit metal. That does a number on an $80 10" table saw blade. So I use a blade that's designed for ripping through wood that might have nails or other metal in it.
It isn't common to find metal in logs like this, but one time was too many for me.
Step 4: Measure Your Tea Lights.
Then I measured the diameter and depth of a tea light so that I knew how wide and deep to make the sockets that would accept them.
The diameter was approximately 1-1/2", and the height was about 1/2". So I figured I'd make an 1-5/8" hole about 3/8" deep in the holder. If that makes any sense.
Step 5: Layout and Drill Your Sockets.
Then I laid out the holes for my tea lights. I decided to go with three because I thought it looked good.
And then with my depth stop set so that the candles would sit proud of the top, I used an 1-5/8" forstner bit to create the sockets for the tea lights.
Step 6: Sand.
Then I sanded all the sides, leaving the live edge alone. I started out with 150 grit and worked my way up to 220. I didn't get this piece perfectly smooth because with the live edge it looks cool when you see a little bit of the re-saw on the sides.
Step 7: Apply Your Finish.
Then I applied three coats of wipe on polyurethane. Letting the piece dry in-between each coat. I usually sand with 1000 grit between coats, but I was in a rush and the tea light holder was looking really good.
Then set it off to the side, and let the poly completely cure before you get a flame near it, please!
Step 8: Enjoy!
Once it's dry, you're done! It's time to enjoy your new tea light holder.
Thanks for checking this out, and I'll see you on the next one!
WARNING: Open flames can cause fires.To prevent fire and serious injury: Burn candle within sight. Keep out of reach of children and pets. Never burn candle on or near anything that can catch fire.