Introduction: Making Plastic Flames

Those of you who’d like to make an electronic candle or some fairy lights using LEDs, might be interested to read this short Instructable. It explains how to make ‘flames’ of glue gun plastic sticks; the advantage of this technique is that it doesn’t require a mould. I developed this technique when I was making a project for Halloween where some little flames were needed; you see a part of it on the cover photo - it was a ‘skeletal hand’ candelabrum.



- glue gun plastic sticks with the diameter of 7 mm (for the ‘flames)

- two pieces of wood 10 mm thick (for the fixture)

- two small screws for wood


- exacto knife

- drill with drilling bits

- saw

- screwdriver

- file

- sandpaper

(I wonder whether I can mention a real candle as a tool; however, a candle is essential for this technique).

Step 1: Candle's Flame

The ‘flame’ is made of a glue gun stick; that’s how I manufactured them:

- hold an end of the stick over the flame of a candle

- when plastic begins to melt and flow, remove the stick from the flame

- wait until the plastic solidifies; you might need to cut periodically the ‘thread’ which is being formed to avoid that the ‘top of the flame’ becomes too thick, see fig. 1

- cut the ‘flame’ as shown in fig. 2

- install the piece in the fixture shown in fig. 3

- drill a 5 mm diameter* hole, 8 mm deep in the bottom of the piece; this is the place for the LED. In fact, the hole’s diameter depends on the diameter of the LEDs used; I used 5 mm LEDs.

make a chamfer around the rims of the bottom’s hole to make it look more similar to a small ‘flame’, see fig. 4

I began drilling with a 2 mm bit to ensure that the hole is well positioned in the stick’s centre; then I continued drilling with 3.5 mm and 5 mm bits. However, the elastic walls of the piece ‘make way’ to the 5 mm bit, so it doesn’t cut enough material to produce a 5 mm hole; I repeated the drilling with a 5.5 mm bit and managed to get a slightly tight fit of the ‘flame’ on the LED. The ‘flame’ should be installed easily on the LED.

Step 2: Fixture

The parts of the fixture which I used to hold the plastic ‘flame’ while drilling the hole are shown in the figure. To make the central hole where the plastic piece will be inserted, it’s necessary to join both halves by means of screws and drill the hole with the diameter of 7 mm.

Hot Glue Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Hot Glue Speed Challenge