Introduction: The Fifth Element Stones Pillar Candle Holders

Picture of The Fifth Element Stones Pillar Candle Holders

Anyone who's ever seen my work knows I'm a sucker for all things nerdy. My home is, quite literally, a shrine to all of my favorite movies, TV shows, even games. Over the years, I've recreated hundreds of props for friends to use in their cosplay at the local Comicon, which can be extremely satisfying when you see how these props can pull a costume together.

By far, though, my favorite time waster is making display props from hit movies that didn't indulge in merchandising for various reasons, or that whatever merchandise they did create is so rare and obscure as to make it unattainable to the average person. One big stipulation, that I have, is that the props I make need to have form and function. Meaning that, it either has to operate in the same way as it does in the franchise, or it must serve some other practical function besides being a simple display item.

In my top ten list of movies is the film 'The Fifth Element'. Beyond being an amazing film, props and merchandise are extremely difficult to find, and often if you do find something its either an expensive film prop that is profoundly expensive, or a low quality (and equally expensive) representation that can only be bought from specialty sites.

For my project, I wanted to recreate the element stones that were used to kill the 'evil' in the weapon chamber in Egypt. It was evident that the movie versions were made out of polystyrene, but I wanted mine to be a bit more durable and long lasting, and so I ended up manufacturing them out of wood. Also, following my own rules on prop creation, I decided to turn them into functional pillar candle holders that I could use to decorate my dinner table during gatherings, as a conversation piece, or simply as an everyday accent.

One of the problems with creating large triangular blocks is that you need large round blades to cut them properly, and unfortunately my table saw has limitations. The movie version is roughly 9" tall and 4" on each side with a .5" bevel, but because of these limitations, I ended up reducing the sides to 3", with a .5" bevel, though I was able to maintain the 9" length. This turned out to be a bit of a blessing, however, since as a table decoration, their larger size wouldn't have been practical and would have taken up too much space to be usable. If, indeed, you wanted to make perfectly sized 'stones', you can use all of the same techniques outlined in this instructable without much alteration. I'll make notes on the appropriate steps for anyone wanting to make the full size version.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

Picture of Tools and Supplies

Tools:

  • Table Saw (optional can use hand saw)
  • Router with 1/4" straight bit
  • Dremel
  • Hand Saw
  • 1 5/8" forstner or spade bit
  • Round File
  • Bench Sander
  • Airbrush and Compressor (optional can use brushes)

Supplies:

  • 4x4x8' beam (actually 3.5"x3.5"x8')
  • Stone paint
  • Rubber gloves
  • sandpaper
  • Black, Brown, Orange and Tan acrylic paints

Step 2: Creating the Sides

Picture of Creating the Sides

The first step was to cut my 8' beam into 22" sections. Each section would create 2 stones, leaving a few extra inches of material for refining the ends. You can use a hand saw, but if you own a miter saw, the process is a lot easier. If your blade suffers the size issue, you can cut 3/4 of the way through on one side, then flip it over and finish the cut on the other leaving a nice flush end.

My saw uses a 10" blade, which doesn't leave a lot of edge, above the table, for cutting. As such, I only had two options; reduce the beam to a usable size, or cut the shape with a hand saw. Since the hand saw wouldn't offer the quality I was looking for, I opted to remove one face of the beam making its final size: 3"x3.5"x22" per beam. The process for 'facing' it is the same as using the miter. Extend your blade fully, then run your piece through which will cut 3/4's of the thickness. Then simply flip the beam over and finish cutting the final 1/4 of the piece.

With the beam narrowed, its time to cut the angles. First, with your blade fully extended adjust its angle to 30 degrees. Then, adjust the distance from the base of the blade to the guard to 1.5". This will create your bevels leaving .5" flat section between them. If you're working with a 4" piece, you'll want to increase the angle to 33 degrees and the distance from the guard to 1.75". Lay your beam with the freshly cut face down and the 3.5" side horizontal. Run your piece through and remove one side, then flip it around and remove the other.

Next you'll want to adjust your distance from the blade to the guard to 3.5", maintaining the angle of the blade. Flip your beam over so that the back is flat against the table and run it through again. This will create the flat edge between the sides. Repeat with the other side to refine its flat edge. No guard adjustments are required as the actual width isn't altered in creating this flat edge.

Your final pieces should resemble the last image in this step.

Step 3: Finishing the Length

Picture of Finishing the Length

Once you've created your two 22" beams, its time to cut them down into 10" sections. Use the same procedure you used on your miter saw, in the last step, to create a nice true edge.

It's a good idea to clean and finalize your edges, making sure that each side and flat section between are straight and crisp. The best tool to use for this is a bench sander where you can lay it flat and let the machine do the work, however if you don't have one, you can accomplish the same task with some hand sanding. Just be ready for some work.

Step 4: The Four Elements

Picture of The Four Elements

There are a lot of variations to the stones, so I opted to take the patters directly from the movie, which I profusely enjoyed watching for the 50th time. The four element stones in order to the image, use four distinct line patterns;

The Air Stone: 6 wavy lines what wrap 90 percent of the way around and are at the top of the stone. The wave rises on the left and falls on the right

The Fire Stone: 5 wavy lines on the back, 4 on each opposing side. Lines are vertical and at the bottom of the stone. **My thought on why they didn't use 6 lines was that they created the stones using polystyrene and more lines would have created thinner, more fragile walls between.

The Earth Stone: 6 straight lines that wrap 90 percent of the way around and are at the bottom of the stone.

The Water Stone: 6 Wavy lines that wrap 90 percent of the way around and are at the bottom of the stone. The wave rises on the right and falls on the left.

Because of the different technique in creating each stone, I'll tackle them independently, giving each its own step. Note that the water/air stones use a similar design that is simply reversed.

Step 5: The Earth Stone

Picture of The Earth Stone

The earth stone was the easiest of the bunch. The best place to start is with the back cuts since they go all the way through. With the router set in the table, I installed the 1/4" straight bit and adjusted it to a cutting depth of 1/4". I then moved the guard back 4" from the bit creating a small .5" gap between the piece and the blade. Next I marked, directly on the table a line running 45 degrees to the guard and passing directly through the center of the bit. From there I marked 6 additional lines to the left, and 6 more to the right of the center line, at 7/8" spacing between them. This would create the distance, on center for each of the grooves in the stone.

The way it works is, by clamping a straight edge along the lines, you can set a guide jig that will help you cut symmetrical channels as you draw the stone toward you. The reason for this is that its easier to create a straight line pulling towards yourself than it is by pushing away. For the back side, you'll only be working with the 6 lines to the left of center. Set your guide bar at the first line to the left of center and, pulling toward you, carve your channel. Move the guide bar one line over and repeat. Continue until all 6 lines have been created.

Unlike the back, the lines on the two opposite sides do not go all the way through edge to edge. They connect to the back lines, however they stop .5" from the front edge of the stone. Adjust the guard so that it is 2.5" from the center of the bit. This time you'll plunge the piece onto the bit and then draw towards yourself. Repeat the process using the same 7/8" adjustments as you did on the back until all 6 lines are cut.

To do the other side, you'll need to flip the piece over and use the 6 lines on the other side of the table. Continue, as you did on the first side until all six lines are cut.

Step 6: Air, Water and Fire Stone Template

Picture of Air, Water and Fire Stone Template

It's much easier to create your lines for the remaining three stones if you first fabricate a template. I used a scrap piece of board to create a 'french curve' that would assist me in making the lines and used my scroll saw to cut it out.

The pattern is simple; For the fire stone, the lines are 5" long and have two waves. I started by drawing a line dividing a 5" piece of board half way down its length. I then drew a line dividing its width into two 2.5" sections. Then using a large round object, I created a wave form with one 2.5" section rising above the center line and one 2.5" section falling below it. I then split my board down this wave and smoothed it on the bench sander.

For the air and water stones, they are essentially the same wave but reversed. I repeated the process I used for the fire stone, however I divided it into 1.5" sections making a smaller wave. Splitting it down the wave gave me two mirrored pieces which would work for the air and water stones respectively.

Step 7: The Water and Air Stones

Picture of The Water and Air Stones

Water:

To create the water stone you need the pattern half that rises on the left and falls on the right. As with the earth stone, the lines on the back go edge to edge however the on the sides they stop .5" from the front.

**Note** Normally I would clamp the piece I'm working on down and use my pattern as a guard to run the router along making perfect lines, however, due to the odd shape of the stones, this was nearly impossible. Trusting in my ability to make straight lines, the old fashioned way, I simply marked the position of the line and created them manually, drawing towards me on the cut.

If you intend on freehanding it, as I did, then the process is simple. Mark 6 lines on the bottom of the stone, using your template, spaced .75" apart. When you create the sides, pay attention to the rise and fall of the wave and adjust your pattern accordingly. The line should wave fluidly around the stone stopping short of the front edge on each side exactly .5".

Air:

The process for making the air stone is identical to the water stone, with the exception that the wave flows in the opposite direction, and the lines are at the bottom of the stone

If you figure out how to clamp this odd shape down and use your template as a guide, feel free to let me know in the comments. My lines turned out as good as I could have hoped, but it can be a bit nerve racking doing them freehand.

Step 8: The Fire Stone

Picture of The Fire Stone

The fire stone is unique, in that its the only stone that doesn't have 6 lines per side and that its lines are vertical. My guess is that, since they were using polystyrene to make the props for the movie, there was a concern about them being to fragile with too much design work on it. As such, the movie version had 5 lines on the back of the stone, and 4 on each opposing side.

To create the lines, measure exactly half the stone at 5" and draw a line all the way around. This is the topmost stop point for your lines. Next, using your template make your wave in the same direction that you see in image #2, spacing them .5" apart on the back side (5 lines) and .6" apart on the two opposite sides (4 lines).

Again, carefully draw your router toward yourself and trace the contour of the lines, plunging to start the cut at the top.

Step 9: Refining Your Lines and Adding Cracking

Picture of Refining Your Lines and Adding Cracking

To refine your lines, you can wrap a piece of sandpaper around a dowel or pen and use it to smooth the contours of the lines, however I found it faster and more effective to use my dremel with a conveniently sized stone bit. I just simply traced all of my lines I created with the router, smoothing any bumps that may have occurred while freehanding the stones.

Cracking:

For the cracking, I switched to a micro wood sculpting bit in my dremel and started to carve lines using a bit of chaos. Now, for mine, I didn't follow the movie precisely, copying every single crack and pit in the stones, but rather opted to freehand my pattern. If you did want a more screen accurate pattern, they do follow a bit of a formula. 90 percent of the cracking on the movie stones starts in the top left corner and flows in a lightning bolt pattern down and to the left, often originating in the flat space between the sides.

**Note** Make sure your lines are deep enough and prominent enough as the paint we will be using is extremely thick. If your lines get covered during painting, don't worry. You can use a screwdriver the trace them, while the paint is still curing, to ensure they stand out better.

Final sanding;

After you've cleaned the edges of your grooves, and created your cracking pattern it's a good idea to give your stones a final sanding. Because we'll be using a stone textured paint, you don't have to worry about sanding with too fine a grit. 150 should be sufficient to get any major burrs out.

Step 10: Drilling the Tealight Recess

Picture of Drilling the Tealight Recess

To drill the recess for the tealight, mount a 1 5/8" spade or forstner bit into your drill press. If you don't have a drill press, don't worry, this can be done quite easily with a cordless drill. Measuring from the center of each .5" space, to the side that's opposite to it, make a line, then repeat for the other two sides. You should now have the center of your stone. Use a nail set and mark it.

You'll need to secure your stone in a clamp or vise as the width of the bit will cause it to buck otherwise. Once your stone is clamped into your drill press, drill down .75" into the top of the stone, You can drill deeper if you intend on using longer tealights, or actual candles.

Step 11: Painting

Picture of Painting

For my stone texture, I used Rustoleum stone accents in a tan color. Its very difficult to get into narrow spaces with this paint, so I recommend first painting the stones inverted, letting them dry a bit, then painting them again from the top down. It took two full coats of paint to finish the stones which ended up being two full cans, so it was fortunate that they were on sale.

Once your paint is sufficiently dry, I recommend going over your stones with some 100 grit sandpaper, with very light strokes. You only want to tame down any excessive bumps the paint leaves behind and not reduce it to bare wood.

Step 12: Details

Picture of Details

For my detail work, I used my airbrush and some basic acrylic paints. I generally mixed my water/paint ratio at about 20-1, making it extremely thin. The colors I used were brown, tan, black and orange. Brown was used inside the grooves to darken them and give them contrast, with small shades down the stone. The black I used around the base of the stones, and around their centers where they would be held by dirty hands. I then gave them an overall light blast with the orange to make them look a bit more like desert sand, then the tan, to blend it all together.

You don't have to use these exact colors as aging things is an art form unto itself. These are just my suggestions as to what I found worked best for me.

Step 13: Finished

Picture of Finished

That's it. Next time you have a dinner party, you can set some mood lighting with your element stone candles that will have your guests asking questions. I put my stones outside near my star gazing bench so that I can have a bit of dim light as I look up at the sky.

I hope you enjoyed the instructable, and as usual, thanks for following.

Comments

RickB179 made it! (author)2017-08-10

Thanks for the instructions! A friend found this page and wanted a set. A couple not-so-great pics of how I clamped the triangle columns. Between two extra 4x4 pieces. It allowed me to use a router guide and keep the pieces stable and unmarred on their faces. And the mostly finished project.

antagonizer (author)RickB1792017-08-10

Very cool and well done. I especially like your clamping solution.

ThirdEarthDesign (author)2017-03-19

These are great, I will be making them at some point for the garden.

Like some of the comments in here have already suggested, I'm going to make these into a mould and cast them in concrete. Can add a yellow pigment to the cement to get the right colour without painting.

Twoboymomtoo (author)2016-10-24

Ohmigosh!!! I absolutely adore what you've done! Not only making these (one of my all-time favorite movies!) but being so gracious and immensely capable in sharing your exact instructions! You're a good man!
My father was a master ecclesiastical wood carver (you would have loved him!) and if he were alive, what fun we would have had making these! But other than his actual workbench (which is in about 40 pieces) and a set of his carving tools, I have no way to do myself so I find myself in line with the others wondering if you are interested and available to make another set for purchase?
My son (18) would be over the moon for these and I would love to surprise him with a set.
Please let me know it you're at all interested and I would be happy to pay you up front or whatever you would need!
I'll try to find a way to PM you...but I am blonde, so I might need help! ?
Thanks so much! You're amazing!!!
M

MirelS (author)2016-10-21

Hello, I am very interested to buy the set of the stones.. Mirels_7@yahoo.com.

DavidA487 (author)2016-08-24

I want to buy them, who can sell them to me? (Write to my email pls dmolinah@gmail.com)

DavidA487 (author)2016-08-24

I want to buy them (USA) who sell them to me? :)

BobG49 (author)2015-12-20

I found the 1-5/8 Forstner bit at Harbor Freight, but I had to buy a set. I believe you can buy the single bit online. BTW, these bits work fine with a hand drill and are more stable then a spade bit. This "stones" were more challenging then I thought to cut out on the table saw, but turned out great in the end. My son will love his Christmas present!!

antagonizer (author)BobG492015-12-20

The Canadian version of Harbor Freight called Princess Auto stocks them as well. I'm glad they worked out for you. Post a pic so I can see them.

BobG49 (author)antagonizer2015-12-22

Here are the finished stones after my wife did her magic with acrylic paints to make them look aged, weathered and work!

DustyD7 (author)BobG492016-08-13

Love these pieces. Would pay to have me a set made. just email me at DustyDurr@gmail.com

antagonizer (author)BobG492015-12-23

Very nice work. Good steady routing lines. I think your cracking turned out better than mine. I was going for extreme subtly to mesh with the movie, but I love the accented cracking.

BobG49 (author)antagonizer2015-12-23

Thanks so much! I couldn't have done any of this without your fine craftsmanship and great instructions! Merry Christmas!

SoyuraDix27 (author)BobG492015-12-23

Hi BobG49: Your stones look amazing! I am a designer in S.D. CA and specialize in Organic Design. May I ask what Wood did you use?

BobG49 (author)SoyuraDix272015-12-23

Hi, I'm happy you like them. I used a 4X4 length of Fir. The actual size is of course 3.5" X 3.5". The router work was pretty easy, but I had a hard time getting the table saw measurements to work out. I experimented with some scrap 4x4 first until I got it to work out. The stone finish spray is a nice base finish, but took forever to dry, so leave extra time for that. Good luck!

SoyuraDix27 (author)BobG492015-12-23

Hi BobG : thanks for the response. Any particular species of fir? My older brother doesn't know it yet (lol) but I am going to get him to help with the heavy woodworking when I visit him for Christmas. I don't think the board will even fit in my mini! I am better at the carving and painting.

BobG49 (author)SoyuraDix272015-12-23

Soyura, not sure, but I purchased from Home Depot. All of their pine 4x4s were in bad shape but the Fir boards were beautiful. It's the only Fir one they had in 4x4. It's 8' long and you can have them cut it in half to easily fit in your MINI. I have a Fiat 500 Abarth so I know about #SmallCarProblems!

BobG49 (author)antagonizer2015-12-21

Hi Antagonizer, thanks again for the instructions and great pics. Here is a pic of my "stones" before my wife shades and ages them with some Acrylic paints. I'll post another pic when they are completey done!

rgarcia72 (author)2016-07-21

Super cool project haha nice work

Crusern made it! (author)2016-04-13

I'm not a craftsman by any means, and I have never done anything like this before. But still quite proud of my results. It does how ever not look as good as yours :) Still I wanted to post my picture to prove to everyone that even if you don't have the experience or skills, you can make it. Thank you so much for the guide, it was very helpfull.

antagonizer (author)Crusern2016-04-14

They're fantastic. I love that you used the different colors for the elements.

MichaelZ50 (author)2016-04-04

Fantastic project and awesome work! Any thoughts on using wood chisels to carve the symbols? I'm a new woodworker and the routing intimidates me :-)

antagonizer (author)MichaelZ502016-04-04

A bit more work but it can be done. It'd be a lot like mortising a joint.

DuoC (author)2016-03-24

Can I just buy the ones you made?

lmperkins made it! (author)2015-12-25

Just gave my set to my wife for Christmas. She didn't see that coming. Excellent directions. Thanks.

IsaacD28 (author)lmperkins2016-03-24

How much would you charge to make more if possible. Would love to gift to someone special soon.

antagonizer (author)lmperkins2016-01-21

Awesome Build! Nice cracking work.

KimberlyÖ13 (author)2016-02-14

Hey there! I love these so muvh and your work is amazing. I made an account on here just to ask you lol. I was wondering if you could do silicone or latex moulds from these and ship them to me? I will happily pay for the time and other costs :) it would be awesome! I wanna do them in cement since i dont have the possibility with wood. Cheers!

antagonizer (author)KimberlyÖ132016-02-15

As I said, I'm all for reproducing them if others want to copy them. Send me a private message and we'll work out how to get them made.

NataliaR24 (author)antagonizer2016-03-19

How can I send you a private message ? I cant seem to find the option

KimberlyÖ13 (author)antagonizer2016-03-09

i sent you a message :D

dtrystman (author)antagonizer2016-02-21

I'm posting it here because I'm on android and I can't find a way to pm you. I love the ideas of making molds. We used to use plaster of Paris for fish molds. I would love to talk the I you about maybe doing that.

NataliaR24 (author)2016-03-16

Hi! My husband and I love your work , espeically the fifth element stone pillar candle holders. We wanted to make them ourselves but don't have the means or ability to do so. Is there any way you could make more of these and if so how much would you charge??

dtrystman (author)2016-02-21

I want to do this but cut it deep enough and hollow it out. Throw some speakers in them and stick one in each corner for surround sound speakers.

JessicaP52 (author)2016-01-20

Could you make these with clay?

antagonizer (author)JessicaP522016-01-21

I don't see why not. If you do, post them here so I can see how they turn out.

SoyuraDix27 (author)2015-12-23

BobG49 OMG! So funny you have the same small car issues! I love my Mini but I've had her for a few years, so I'm actually thinking I might go Italian next. I love the Fiats, both sexy and cute! What type of paints did you use, I love the color palette and dimension !

SoyuraDix27 (author)2015-12-23

I just stumbled across this site and these instructions are amazing! Just what I was searching for to make a set of these for myself. If anyone has any tips or tricks to help me before I get started that would be great!

Dhvengeance (author)2015-12-13

Where did you find a 1-5/8 in spade bit?? I can't find one anywhere

antagonizer (author)Dhvengeance2015-12-13

Mine are made by Stanley which, I'm pretty sure, I bought at Rona. You could probably find Forstner bits in that size if you can't get a spade.

Dhvengeance (author)antagonizer2015-12-14

i dont suppose you could send a link... i have been looking for hours and stopped at every hardware store... they arent around.. and the forstner bit is not going to work without a drill press

BobG49 (author)Dhvengeance2015-12-20

The Forstner bit I found worked great with a hand drill.

mjohnson35 (author)2015-12-05

I think I will try this and use LED candles, but replace them with the matching bulb colors.

Green_Primus (author)2015-08-03

Hmm I wonder if you could reverse this and make cement molds for these?

antagonizer (author)Green_Primus2015-08-03

I'm actually in the process of learning how to do casting for that exact reason. I originally thought resin, but cement makes a whole lot more sense.

DavidW196 (author)antagonizer2015-12-04

Hempcrete ought be available throughout N Amerc by now as a viable alternative mold resource.

WilliamM110 (author)2015-12-01

I want these sooo much can you make me some please thats one of my favorite movies

antagonizer (author)WilliamM1102015-12-01

I don't have the time to recreate them in bulk to sell, but due to the number of requests for them, I'll put this out for anyone that does silicone molding. They can make a set of molds for themselves, if they're interested in selling them. The only think I ask is that they make an extra set of molds for me. There's a catch tho. It would have to be local as I wouldn't want them getting lost in the mail, so if there are any Canadian crafters that want to give it a shot, let me know and we can work it out.

AmyG47 (author)antagonizer2015-12-02

sorry to say but you cant have any rights to the design their already copyrighted by the studio that filmed the movie i made myself a set of these a long time ago out of cement and taller ones out of wood for decorations and ritual uses and have made them for friends/ circle members and im sure others have made them.

antagonizer (author)AmyG472015-12-02

I think you're confused and should probably re-read that, or do you think I should be forced to start shipping them across the country because I'm not the rights holder to the design? Is it, possible, that you don't think I should be allowed to ask for a copy of the mold after letting someone else make one, or do you think I shouldn't let people make them at all?

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