The 12 Days of Christmas have their roots and inspiration in the 12 Days of Yule. Rather than starting on December 25, Yuletide begins on the Winter Solstice (typically around December 20 or 21). For the past few years, I have celebrated the Winter Solstice (or, specifically, the night before the Solstice which is known as Mother's Night) by crafting something for use in observing the 12 Days of Yule. Last year, I made my own candelabra. It's attractive, but not fancy, so it's relatively easy to make. I'll share what I did, and I look forward to seeing what you make with this procedure.
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Step 1: Materials
Before you begin, you need to assemble your materials. Here is what I used:
Pencil -- mark candle positions (already in possession, so cost is $0)
Tape measure -- to measure for candle positions. (already in possession, so cost is $0)
Base -- Two 24" boards form the base of the candelabra. I purchased a 2x4x8 piece of cedar decking from Lowe's for $7.22. I knew I was not going to sand it down, but I was able to select a board that wasn't too rough, and had an interesting wood-grain/knot pattern. Also, I had the board cut into two 24" inch lengths at Lowe's (for free). This gave me 2 boards that were 24" long, 3.5" wide, and 1.5" high. (Note: I'm saving the remaining 4 foot piece for a rainy day.)
Votive holders -- Twelve Round Oak Casters (2") serve as votive holders on the candelabra. I purchased mine from Lowe's: Three 4-packs @ $4.97 each for a total of $14.91.
Liquid Nails -- for adhering the casters to the wooden base (4oz bottle for $2.66 at Lowe's)
Wood finish -- A sealant, coat, or stain to protect your candelabra. I used "Polycurethane" from Michael's at $11.99 for the can.
Felt pads -- These are for the bottom of the candelabra, and they protect the surface on which you place the finished candelabra. I had "Scratch Guard" self-adhesive felt blankets leftover from a much older project so my cost is $0. For you folks keeping taps at home, a similar item is available at Lowe's for $3.99.
Votive Candles -- (not pictured) You will need 12 candles, one for each day of Yuletide. I opted to purchase a 12-pack of unscented votives from Michael's. They were on sale when I purchased them, so I am not sure of the price.
Total material cost (without votives or tax) = $40.77
Step 2: Set Votive Positions on the Base
In this step, we will mark the base pieces for the six holders (casters).
Starting with the first base, mark the centerline. The base is 3.5 inches wide, so use your pencil and tape measure to scratch a hash mark 1.75 inches from the long edge as shown in the first image.
Make several more hash marks as shown in the second image and connect them with a faint line (you must be able to erase this line later).
Next, mark the center point of each caster (see 3rd image):
-- Measure along the center line and make a hash mark 2 inches from the leading edge.
-- Continue measuring along the center line, and make 5 more hash marks along it, each one 4 inches from the previous one.
Finally, mark the upper and left "edge" to define each caster's placement. Using the first center point as an example (4th image), measure 1.25 inches to the left of the center. Then measure 0.5 inches from the upper edge in line with the center point. Repeat for the remaining 5 caster center points on this base.
[Then repeat this entire step for the second base. The final image shows how the first and second caster's will line up with your hash marks.]
Step 3: Erase the Centerline
Using an art eraser, gently erase the centerline from each base. Take care that you do NOT erase any of your hash marks. The hash marks are critical for caster placement, but you don't want a pencil line down the center of your finished product.
The image below is a sample illustration showing the first three centerpoints and their hash marks after the centerline has been erased.
Step 4: Adhere Casters to the Base
Now it's time to glue the casters to the base.
Take the first caster, turn it over, and place a dollop of Liquid Nails on the center bottom. Dollop should be no more than a dime in width. (See second image).
Using your index finger, spread the adhesive as evenly as you can across the bottom of the caster. (Third image).
Next, gently place the caster in position using the upper and left hash marks as your guide. As shown in the fourth image, I used my thumb and index finger to grip the caster while my pinkie and ring fingers rested on the base. (My index finger was covered in adhesive. I chose to not clean it off after applying adhesive. This saved me some time. Your mileage may vary).
Note: Liquid Nails allows for repositioning within 20 minutes of application. So set each caster in place and then make minor adjustments as necessary.
Step 5: Place All Casters and Let the Adhesive Dry
Continue the previous step until all 12 casters have been applied to the two bases (six per base). As Liquid Nails allows for repositioning within 20 minutes of application, wait one hour after setting the last caster in place before continuing with this instructable.
Step 6: Apply a Finish (Optional)
This step is optional. I tend to prefer natural wood color, so I didn't apply paint or stain to my candelabra. However, as the individual casters came out-of-the-box with a shiny sealant applied, and because I wanted to give some protection to my candelabra, I opted for a sealing coat.
As mentioned in the material list, I used Polycurethane which I purchased from Michael's Crafts. You are free to apply whatever finish you desire. Just be certain to do so in a well-ventilated area and follow all directions for your chosen material.
I applied two coats of the sealant. The first coat was applied the evening I started the project, and the second coat was applied first thing in the morning. I think it really helped to birng out the grain in the wood.
Step 7: Add Protective Pads
Cut two to four pieces for each base. I used pieces approximately 1 inch by 2 inches. As they were self-adhesive, I merely had to remove the protective slip and apply them. If you only use two, place them near each end of the base as shown below.
Step 8: Finishing Touches -- Blessed Yule!
Now that the candelabra is complete, and you have your votive candles, you are ready to put it to use.
Set out an altar cloth (if you choose) or place the candelabra bases directly on the surface of choice. Set a votive candle on each holder (the casters), and set some decorative greens around it (evergreens, holly, etc.).
Take care that none of your decorative flourishes get close to a lit candle. And do be certain to observe all the necessary candle safety rules.
Here are a few sources for Yule devotionals:
A very blessed Yule to you and yours!