Laser Cut Candle Holders




Introduction: Laser Cut Candle Holders

About: I'm a Research Engineer at Adobe. Previously, I was a grad student at the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT Media Lab. Before that, I worked at Instructables, writing code for the website and iOS apps and m...

Inspired by those awesome Moroccan cutout lanterns, I made a set of three laser cut candle holders, perfect for small votive candles or tea lights.  All the laser cutting for the project was done at TechShop SF

Step 1: 3D Modeling

I modeled the candle holders in AutoCAD by drawing two boxes and subtracting the inner volume from the outer box.  I exported this shape from AutoCAD as a single stl file.  I've attached the dwg and stl files below, the candle holder measures 3"x3" and 4" tall.

I imported the stl file into 123D Make, a free app that lets you prepare your 3d files for laser cutting.  I'm using a new preview version of 123D Make that is not available to the public yet, so I had a lot of control over the type of joints to use for my candle holders.  The public version of 123D Make will be getting regular updates in the coming moths, so hopefully you will be able to use these features soon too!

In 123D Make, I set the joint type to finger joint with 11 fingers for each joint.  I specified the dimensions of my material and 123D Make created 2D vector files with the correct finger size and fit them onto sheets for laser cutting.

Step 2: Adding Cut-Out Patterns

I imported the eps files from 123D Make into Corel Draw and drew in some patterns on the four walls of the candle holders.  I made the cut-outs fairly detailed, I'm hoping they will cast some interesting shadows.  The image above shows the final file I sent to the laser cutter (I've also attached this below).

Step 3: Laser Cutting

I cut out my parts out of 1/4" (0.24" to be specific) plywood on an Epilog120 laser cutter at TechShop SF.  If you do not have access to a laser cutter, consider using an online fabrication service like Ponoko.

Step 4: Assembly

I glued the pieces of the three candle holders together with wood glue.  I bought three small votive candles from a local Walgreens, lit them and carefully placed them in the holders... and that's it!  Please, remember that wood (especially laser cut wood) is flammable.  If you decide to make something like this, never leave the flame unattended.

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30 Discussions

wow amazing! We will post laser cut lanterns out of paper on our page soon!

Hi there... that's an amazing project. however which wood is this?

What was the setting for your laser? power and speed?

Very very nice :) Thks for sharing. I wish I had a laser cutter or a easy way to find one to make use, but here in Brazil it is really expansive/hard to find. It is in my wish list :)

1 reply

You might have better luck with CNC router maybe? That should do if you did a little bit of design editing or even cut as is. Just the finger joints for corners should be changed. ;)

very creative, looks great!

very nice!


It's beautiful, can't wait to make one.

Thanks for the reply! Project currently in process!

Great design! By chance, do you have this in a downloadable dxf file?

1 reply

sorry, I was using corel at the time. You can save the cdr as an ai file using corel and from there I think you can save a dxf in illustrator. sorry about that!

I am also making lanterns and hope someone can make a recommendation for a non toxic ply wood that wouldn't off-gas when exposed to the heat of the candle flame?

Love this design. I added just a standard tea-candle sized hole to the bottom of the candle holder, so that the candle can be lit first and the decorative holder placed on top after.

Here's a photo of them:

1 reply

Hi very nice job, compliments.
I would like to customize one with my company and put on my website, also mentioning your name and link to your web.
The candle size is 3.11 x 3.11 x h. 2.9
Would you contact me at and let me know how much does it cost

Just made the squares and Diamonds on my new FS hobby Laser. All I had was a sheet of 3/16" plywood from Orchard (.210") I simply scaled to 90% and the pieces were tight enough to just press fit together. I'm looking for a cool TIKI bmp for my next set. Thanks again :)

1 reply