Introduction: Wooden Candle Holder

Picture of Wooden Candle Holder

A handmade tea light holder, crafted from a log.

I shaped a log from our firewood pile into a slab, and drilled holes for the tea lights. Its pretty simple really- but the most important part is picking an attractive piece of wood, and paying attention to nice finishing.

You need:

a log
a shaping tool. (bandsaw, hand saw, chainsaw, hatchet, plane, belt sander, mill, your teeth etc..)
a large forstner bit (either 1 1/2" or 1 5/8" - I'll explain the importance later)



Disclaimer- use common sense or succumb to evolution.

Step 1: Aquiring Materials

Picture of Aquiring Materials

Ok, so for the wood, you have a couple of different options, but in general you want a hard wood (i.e. not pine 2x4) with nice grain, points of interest, like a knot, or a rough edge with some bark.

It can be any shape or size you like, as long as it is wide and deep enough to fit a tea light with a little extra on either side, as for length, it could be long enough for 1 to 100 candles.. but I think odd numbers of candles looks best.

I made two, one from option 1, and one from option 3

1) Firewood from your woodpile. Make sure it isn't rotten, nor does it have woodworm or other defects unless you think they may look good.

2) Go to a lumber yard or equivalent and tell them what your trying to make, they can probably give you a scrap for very little or free.

3) I met a tree surgeon who was working on a street near my house. I asked him for a fresh log, that was in the back of his truck. I had to call him a number of times as he was an old guy who seemed to be hard of hearing- don't give up! He gave me a maple log for 2 bucks.

- This is where the bike comes in, I was riding home when I met him, so I carried the log home bungee corded to my bike. Be careful, as its impossible to steer, and you become a very nice projectile.

Step 2: Shaping

Picture of Shaping
Take a look at your piece of wood and look for you candle holder within the log. I kept one edge close to the edge of the log for bark, and picked a length where there was a knot.

To blank it out you need one of the shapers mentioned earlier, I would suggest a saw, but I had a go with the hatchet for my firewood log attempt, this left the final piece more rustic, as there were deeper gouges from the hatchet.

As you can see from the pictures, I made a cuboid, but you could make it any shape you like.

Once you have the basic shape done, you can work on it with progressively finer tools- like a plane, then sander, then finer sandpaper..

- You should have a go at using a plane if you haven't already- they are really fun, and they make a big mess of wood curls everywhere.

A belt sander is really helpful, but not necessary. I put mine upside down in the vise so I could bring the work to the tool, not the other way round, which is easier for smaller stuff.

Step 3: Snack, and Touchups.

Picture of Snack, and Touchups.

OK, first things first, get something to eat. like a cup of tea and a cinnamon bun..

Look for any problem areas- Where bark is lifting up, really big gouges etc..

For bark thats lifting up, fix it right away, as when the break is fresh, the fibers connect back together better. Get some carpenters glue and squidge it into the crack with your finger or a scrap piece of wood. Put a clamp on it, and leave it to dry.

If you made a big gouge, either make it part of the rustic look, or fill it with wood filler. Follow the directions on the packet.

Now you'll need to do more sanding to get rid of excess glue/filler. Doing lots of sanding with finer and finer grits is really worth it.

- Notice I'm sanding before drilling. The forstner bits make a really clean cut into the piece, so its easier to sand before you have holes to negotiate.

Step 4: Drilling Holes

Picture of Drilling Holes

Decide how many candles you want. Here you can see it with 3, and then 2. I went with 3.

For any odd number of candles measure to the middle, and place a mark, this is where you will drill for the middle candle.

The rest of the marks are a little harder to explain, but you want an equal distance between the edges of your candles, not between centers, so you will need to know the radius of your drill bit. Then draw it around your drill mark with a compass. Now you can measure from the edge. Position the remaining candles equal distances apart, and mark for holes.

Or make a jig from scrap material, like I used for the firewood piece. First Drill a hole in a board for the jig, then move the edge of your jig to the edge of where you just drilled, and drill a hole through the hole in the jig. Keep moving it up, then cut off the end when you can't make any more holes.

Drill Bit: The most expensive part of this project was the forstner bit, at around $30cdn, But its worth it to buy a quality tool. You can make lots more candle holders. I even have a few other projects that use the same bit.

I found that a 1 1/2" forstner bit was the largest home depot sells, but this only fits the tea light, without the cup.
If you want to fit the cup (which I suggest, so you don't set fire to the candle holder, or have a waxy mess to scrape out) you will need a bigger size, which I found at and old school hardware store, Preston Hardware in Ottawa. They gave me a 1 5/8" which fits the cup.

*Note- All tea lights are not created equal. Mine are from IKEA. I found some others that are smaller, and may fit into a 1 1/2" hole. Check what candles you have or can get before you buy a bit.

If you have a drill press, this will be much easier. You can set the depth stop for the size of a candle. Then just start making wood chips. A hand drill would work ok, but clamp your piece securely, and make sure you drill straight.

Step 5: Finish Up

Picture of Finish Up

If the edges of the holes are ruff, give them a little sanding.

Finishes: Think about finishes- there are many you could do. My favourite is tung oil, Which I used on the chopping board. I left the maple candle holder natural. I treated the longer log made holder with liming wax, which brings out the grain in a big way. You could also stain it. Be careful about using potentially flammable finishes.

Buy some nice candles. I got beeswax tea lights from a an environmental/organic shop called Arbour in Ottawa. They smell great.

Wrap it up, and give someone a piece of firewood instead of a lump of coal...

Now you've bought the expensive bit, make a few more, or have a go at making a chopping board..

Merry Christmas.


przemek (author)2017-05-18

I'm sorry to be a stick-in-the-mud, but a wooden candle holder is NOT a good idea. My cousin ended dead with her children because of a candle that burned down the house. There HAS to be a fireproof container under the candle: metal, ceramic or glass.

louis.m (author)przemek2017-05-18

I completely agree with your warning and think your reaction is the only sensible one to this hazardous "Destructable" !

EdwardM135 made it! (author)2017-04-15
big ray made it! (author)2016-03-10

Thanks Sam! I made a pair of Hers & Hers for a Wedding.

AlentoS (author)2016-01-01

I used instruction from to make it

tchernokojev made it! (author)2015-12-13

I made a different version

HeidiS4 (author)2015-11-13

Thanks Sam. I was bored and out of wood to build stuff. But I had some chunks of tree I was saving for a friend to use for her guinea pig toys.

chabias (author)HeidiS42015-12-13

That turned out really nice. Love the dark vein in the wood.

gwb1252 (author)2012-01-08

I like to see young people interested in doing this sort of thing, but a old mans word of caution, if I'm correct I see in your video that you are passing a piece of wood over an upturned electric planer, your fingers are so close to the high speed rotating blades, not such a good idea, be safe and try and keep all of your fingers so that you can enjoy doing nice projects in the future

Jesus10555 (author)2006-12-29

How old are you, no offense you look young (around 14-22) just wondering because your lucky to have a nice workshop like that.

sam (author)Jesus105552006-12-30

Thanks. I love my shop, and yes I'm fairly young. I guess the difference between most people and me is that they spend money on games, or mp3 players, etc.. but I spend money on tools. Being a good dumpster diving scrounger doesn't hurt either!

darkclaw42 (author)sam2010-11-09

Gah! Finally someone that understands! I thought I was the only one that perfered a new Dremel over Call of Duty..

You're not alone on that!

djzadjza (author)darkclaw422010-11-25

omg yes. i dont understand all the rage about video games. i mean i play them occasianaly but i would much rather have a new tool that will last me 10-15 years ratehr than a video game that becomes out dated after 6 months

mikaelthemycologist (author)sam2009-12-11

I'm jealous of your shop............. and your tools

Awesome instructabe man.


Yerboogieman (author)sam2007-12-08

i have an equal budget for both, like ima buy a new multimeter

Jesus10555 (author)sam2006-12-30

haha, I love it. I'd be somewhat the same if I had money, lol. But I love the shop! I'm trying to clean out the garage, and make that my shop. Also, my Dad just went out of bussiness :( and now works on salary (for someone else) and he was throwing out a bunch of stuff I was able to grab. I was to late to get the 3/4 plywood though. I wanted it so bad, It was some cherry, maple, oak, and some other nice ones I cant remember. although they were scrap, they averaged at a size of at least 4 feet x 4-5 feet damn, that woulda started my hobby.

I am in the shed! (author)2012-01-05

Damn! - that was going to be my second 'ible! - exellent job and nicer than what I had planned to be honest.

zilcho (author)2011-11-22

Nice, we used to make these in my high school woodshop out of oak slabs. This design looks even better. Great work

doubleshockz (author)2011-01-10

i just made something like this! and now i just found this one. i made mine with a pine branch though because theres alot of snow so i couldent go out and get a nice oak or maple log. but the pine works. my pine log was a little wet/fresh though so i put 3 coats of shellac to seal it.

Broom (author)2007-12-26

OK, I'm going to sound like a ninny here, but I gotta relate a story.

I had a brass-rimmed, wooden candleholder that I used as a nightlight at a historical event onceuponatime. A friend of mine was crashed for the night, and I went out to the campfire outside, and forgot about the candle.

Came back hours later to discover the candleholder was now completely turned to charcoal. Had it been sitting on something flammable (like a wooden table), who knows? I *never* thought that the candle, retained by the metal insert, would catch a fire like that. Could have killed my friend with my stupidity... < shudder >

So, ever since, I've scrupulously avoided candle holders made of wood. The fact that the tealights are retained by thin metal obviously doesn't matter to me.

Preaching over with. Please be careful.

mskogly (author)Broom2008-12-11

I agree, a wooden candlestick is a great way to burn down your house, even with the aluminium. Those things gets HOT if you forget them and let them burn down. Perhaps some sort of glass lining would be a good addition?

darkclaw42 (author)mskogly2010-11-09

You could drill the holes a little bigger then needed and add your own 'aluminum cap' in the wood with a little spike to keep the candle in place. Almost like an 'extra' safety preventer.

Broom (author)darkclaw422010-11-09

I guess I should add: the wooden candleholder *did* have a metal insert to hold the candle. Amazingly, the wood caught fire, anyway.

I never would have believed it would have happened, but it did.


darkclaw42 (author)Broom2010-11-10

Yea. But maybe a teacup for the teacup candle would work, something made of Glass or Aluminum. Definitly thicker then the teacup candle's barrier.

smurfsahoy (author)Broom2009-04-18

Just get a larger bit (you can use a spade bit which is cheaper and runs larger, since the finish won't matter) and then line the larger inside with something that insulates, like ceramic or glass. Probably the easiest way to find something like that is to cannibalize an existing tealight holder. A thick piece of wood with a ceramic insert and a tealight lined in metal will NOT ever burn.

guyzo35 (author)2010-05-09

 Love the shop, currently trying to expand mine.  Very impressed with the project and especially your using the jack plane

bobdole (author)2007-12-26

Using youtube is nice for illustrating techniques, but remember, people who have javascript turned off, or refuse to install flash, people who live in UAE or Qatar, (or several other countries where youtube is blocked for political reasons), people browsing from work (whose IT department has youtube filtered) cannot see the videos at all. The very least you could do is put in some descriptive text for those who just see a blank white page. (like me!)

sam (author)bobdole2007-12-27

I experience the same problems with youtube being blocked at my school.. there are a few workarounds, but I won't get into that here. My Instructable was intended to be usable without the videos, as I did include many pictures, and also text. That said, on the next one I'll try to make it more universally accessible!

gilleseg (author)sam2009-11-27

Still great job.  I followed what you did and I also stained the top side of my wood.  Looks great.

linshigroup (author)2009-07-08

We are one of the famous handicraft company in Korea,and have manufactory in China.At present,we are seeking for foreign handicraft market and wholesaling all various kinds of handicraft.
Any enquiries should be welcome.
Our office website:

Yerboogieman (author)2007-09-25

great for power outages

frazeeg (author)2007-09-10

This would be a great project for a beginning carpenter. It's not too complicated, doesn't require lots of tools, and teaches some fundamentals of woodworking (sanding, planing, finishing, etc). Something a dad and son can bond over. Of course, when I was a beginner, I ended up with so many nails sticking out of my projects that I'm surprised I didn't get tetanus. Too bad I'm in school / it's getting cold, otherwise I'd start writing up some projects I've been meaning to.

sam (author)frazeeg2007-09-11

Thanks! Although I haven't contributed much to instructables lately due to other commitments, nice comments like this make me want to get back in the swing of things, and crank out some more instructables! You should definitely write up those projects you've been meaning to do.. Cheers!

Mr. Rig It (author)2007-09-09

Very good use of the material that you had, it cam out really nice. I can smell the candles now. Great job.

Vendigroth (author)2007-04-15

Nice. Cheap, pretty and simple. Gets my + sign How's about gluing some strips of different coloured woods together neatly to make a stripy one?

sam (author)Vendigroth2007-04-15

Thanks! I like the stripy idea. I might try that out, when I get some time...

ungood (author)2007-01-29

Probably cheaper to buy candles to match your bit than the other way around. :)

StepsoftheSun (author)2007-01-24

I really like the finished look of your candle holder. And this is a great Instructable too! Nice use of video: if a picture is worth 1000 words and you're shooting film at 32 frames/second... (: I was going to suggest lightly editing the film but if your money goes towards tools for your shop, it should stay that way. I hope to see more!

sam (author)StepsoftheSun2007-01-24

Hey, thanks. thats really appreciated. In future videos, hopefully my shop will be a little cleaner, so the video will be more clear. The candle holder hasn't caught fire yet, and we've been through one set of candles already.. maybe PetervG wasn't being sarcastic.. who knows.. Your lamp is really nice.. lamps are popular projects. I think I'm going to make one.. I've had a couple of ideas already..

PetervG (author)2006-12-29

Wooden candle holders. . smart.

StepsoftheSun (author)PetervG2007-01-24

This from a guy who posts fireworks Instructables...? I guess it was a strange brand of humor.

matt (author)2007-01-21

so thats what you were making for your mom!! you wanna come over and embed a gun safe in my wall?? possible cement it permanently... thatd be sick

brob (author)2007-01-08

nice project. Your bike chain needs some oil. It looks kinda rusted.

sam (author)2006-12-30

oops.. Looks like I posted one of the vids twice. There are actually 3 videos

Jesus10555 (author)2006-12-29

Also: Beautiful project!

Tool Using Animal (author)2006-12-29

That came out really nice, BUT, remove all loose clothing or jewelry when wood working, the strings on your hoodie are just begging to catch on something and pull you face first into a power tool..

sam (author)Tool Using Animal2006-12-29

thanks. I'm glad you pointed that out. I only saw how bad that could have been when I watched the video!

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