Introduction: Bird's Mouth Votive Candle Holder

About: I like to design and build random things.

My wife asked for a homemade votive candle holder for the holidays. Searching online, I found that the general design concept is a board with holes in a straight line. Since the desired design is for a holiday centerpiece on a table, I chose an octagon shape. We think it turned out very nice! My kids even gave it a "that's pretty cool" which is an upgrade over their comments on my previous projects :). Also, this is my third design using the bird's mouth joints - others projects shown here and here.

Step 1: Tools/Materials


  • Table Saw
  • Drill Press
  • Forstner Bit (1.5" Diameter)
  • Punch
  • Hammer
  • Ratchet Strap
  • Sander
  • Ruler
  • Pencil


  • 4x4 x 12" Long
  • Wood Glue

Step 2: Drawing

The design is pretty simple. One part, repeated eight times.

Step 3: Starting Point

I started with a Douglas Fir 4x4. I cut 12" off which allowed for a few extra pieces in case I messed up.

Step 4: Cutting 4x4 Down

The 4x4 had rounded corners. I shaved off two sides to get the board down to a 3.5" x 2.5"

Step 5: Bird's Mouth Cut

Set the blade on the table saw to 45 degrees. Raise the blade so it cuts exactly to the midpoint. This step might take a few iterations. Practice on a scrap piece of wood. Cut both sides to a make a v-notch (bird’s mouth cut) in the board.

Step 6: Pieces

Set table saw fence to 1". Cut the eight pieces. You might want to cut a few extras and pick the best eight.

Step 7: Dry Fit

At this point, you might want to do a dry fit. At the same time, it’s a good idea to choose a top vs. bottom side. I tried to place the best cuts (tightest fit) on the top side.

Step 8: Candle Hole

Mark the center per the drawing in Step 3. I used a punch to indent the location. Use a 1.5" Forstner bit for the hole.

Step 9: Glue and Pull Together

Apply glue at the notch for each of the eight sides. Use a ratchet strap to pull the pieces together. Wipe off the excess glue.

Step 10: Clean Up and Stain

Fill any gaps with wood filler (glue and saw dust) and then sand smooth. I used a dark cherry stain for the finish followed by two coats of polyurethane..

Step 11: Finish Pictures

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Step 12: Night Pictures

Thanks for viewing.

Homemade Gifts Contest 2017

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2017