Introduction: Copper Pipe Candelabra
Copper pipe candelabras not only look great, but also make a great gift to make this holiday season. Flex your maker muscles and put together your own version easily, and show off your artistic flair, too!
You can buy artisanal copper pipe candelabras, but they are way overpriced. Show someone special how crafty you are by giving a handmade candelabra for less than half what you can buy them for. Did I mentioned they are super easy to make? Here's how to make your own, for yourself or as a gift this holiday season.
Step 1: Copper Fittings
Make a trip to the plumbing aisle of your local hardware store and look for the copper pipe fittings. I used 3/4" pipe and fittings for this project, as the threaded end cap fits tall candles perfectly.
Having a few designs in mind, I grabbed the 45°, 90°, T, and screw connectors for each design, as well as about 3' of 3/4" copper pipe. You'll also need a copper pipe cutter.
Copper can be an expensive metal, so it's best to go with a design in mind to prevent overspending.
Step 2: Cut Conecting Pipe
To join the components together a small section of copper pipe is used as a connecting piece. Measure a small section of pipe and clamp the pipe cutter to spot where you want to cut. Slowly tighten the pipe cutter until you feel it bite into the pipe and then roll the pipe cutter around the pipe, you'll see a small indent where the wheel in the cutter has scored the pipe. Tighten the cutter a few turns and repeat rolling it around the pipe again, making a deeper indent. Continue this process until you've cut through the pipe.
Repeat this process for all sections of pipe you need for your design.
Step 3: Plan Out Connections
It's a good idea to lay out your design to ensure you have all the components cut and measured correctly.
Step 4: Epoxy Connections in Stages
Epoxy is a permanent bond. Choose an epoxy that is appropriate for bonding metal, otherwise your connections might be weak. Since you only have one shot to get all your connections right, it's best to do them in stages.
I started with the connections that I knew would be easy. In this design it was the candle holder to the 90° elbow. Mixing up the 2-part epoxy on a scrap piece of wood a small dab was applied to the inside of the elbow connector, and the inside of the fluted candle holder. After, the copper collar cuts earlier was inserted and the two pieces were set aside to let the epoxy cure. The same process was applied to all other connections that could be made in the first stage.
Step 5: Finish Connections
After all the initial connections are made we can assemble the components into one large piece.
I bought my copper pipe in a coil, so it already had a slight bend. Copper is soft enough to bend by hand, however pieces under 1' (300mm) will be difficult to bend without the aid of a tube bender. Best to plan out your bends ahead of time on a large section of pipe and make the bends before cutting your connecting pipe.
Mixing up new epoxy the joined connecting pieces can be glued to the sections of longer pipe. Depending on your design you may have to brace your creation with clamps or tape to hold the shape until the epoxy cures.
Step 6: Copper Treatment
Depending on the type of finish you want you can apply a treatment to copper to give it an aged patina or a brilliant shine.
Base treatments such as pot ash (or concrete) will age the copper and make it molted, whereas acidic treatments like lemons will give a bright finish. Both look great, it just depends on your taste.
Of course this is optional, you can leave your copper untreated and it will age to a nice amber color.
Step 7: Protect
After applying your treatment you'll need to seal your candelabra with a clear coat finish.
Hang your creations in a well ventilated area and spray to cover completely. I applied a few coats to ensure good coverage, waiting in between applications.
Step 8: Felt Feet
To protect from scratching your tabletop, felt feet were placed on the bottom of the candelabra. I found these felt feet at the Dollar Store and they have a peel-and-stick adhesive backing. Larger felt feet can be cut to shape and stuck the bottom of the candelabra.
Step 9: Light Up the Evening
These candelabras take the standard 3/4" diameter candles. You can usually find these candles in bulk or at least in a multi-pack. Whether you cut the candles down to size or leave them full length, always check your candelabra for stability before lighting the candles.
Your custom made candelabras are sure to be a highlight for the recipient, and during dinner.
Have you made your own copper pipe candelabra? I want to see it!
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