Nice Candleholders From Scrap Wood

A few weeks ago I started thinking about what to do with all the smaller pieces of wood I collected in my workshop over the years. All too small to build something, but yet too big to just throw them away. And I came up with a few ideas, so I want to share this one with you, because its rather simple, and you can use almost the smallest bits of wood for it:

Time needed: Less than one afternoon - you can also build much more at once, with only little more time.


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Step 1: Materials & Tools

- Wood: find some scrap pieces/sheets of wood, not too thick, ( < ½“ is easier to cut) - you should have at least 2 different sorts/colors (better 3 or more) best is to mix with plywood or multiplex

- Wood glue (No, hot glue or superglue won’t work)

- Forstner bit: the size of the candles you want to use (a Forstner drill is made for making large holes with a flat bottom, which is exactly what we want - I used a 40mm for a tea candle)

- Power drill (a drill press would help)

- A saw: a fret saw will work, but surely you will be faster with a jig saw, table saw or band saw with a fine blade (DON'T use power tools when you haven't been properly instructed - you can do this project with just a fret saw - which I would propose to beginners!)

- Sanding block (you can also just use a piece of wood for that)

- Sand paper: 60, 100 and 200 (or similar grits)

- Clear coat and a paint bush, and again sandpaper - this time about 300 grit

- A pen, a set square, a piece of paperboard

- A vice will be helpful, but is not necessary

- Some clamps are also helpful, but aren't necessary - something heavy works just as fine

Step 2: Planning the Size

- Ask yourself how big/tall you want the holders, see what size the scrap-wood allows (obviously the sides need to be longer than the candles diameter)

- I made them square, about 3”x 3” because my candles are about 1 ½” in diameter.

Step 3: Cut the Wood

- Start by making a pattern out of cardboard (I often use corn flakes packages that)

- Then use the pattern to draw equal squares on each piece of wood

- Now you cut the wood: use your saw or power-tools to cut the squares (remember to wear safety glasses when using power tools and avoid open hair or long necklaces etc.)

- After you've cut the wood, DON’T sand the edges yet, glueing comes first.

Step 4: Glueing

- When you have enough squares for the desired height (I decided to use 5) glue them together - on top of each other

- The glue doesn’t need to be perfectly spread, but it should be enough: you see if its enough if some comes out at the sides. If no glue comes out, take the layers apart and apply a bit more more, if much comes out use less for the next layer

- Beware of the direction of the grain, woods from the same sort should have the same direction (just looks better)

Step 5: Sanding

- Depending on how exact you cut the wood, this process can be very quick or rather slow. Remember, everybody needs practice to become a pro.

- I you're using a vice, put two pieces of really scrap wood between the vice and your candleholder to not damage it

- You start with the roughest paper on the sanding-block to make the 4 side surfaces flat, then you change to the medium sandpaper an go over the same surfaces. Make sure to get out all the scratches you might have made with the roughest paper.

- Always move the sanding block diagonally, this makes it easier to make the surfaces completely flat

- While sanding always check if you have right angles, do that with a set square. Mark the places were you need to grind more wood off, and do it

- After that you use the finest paper to make all the surfaces and edges really smooth, I usually do that with my finger, I just have more feeling for the edges that way

Step 6: Drilling

- Mount the Forstner bit to your drill (a drill press will be helpful)

- Find the center of the topmost square by marking its two diagonals with an erasable pen (diagonals always cross in the middle of a square)

- Mount the wood under the drillbit – be careful to really meet the middle - then lower the drill and go as far as you want the candle to go inside the wood (this should be at least ¼ “, otherwise it could fall out too easy)

- If you only have a hand drill, be careful to hold it as upright as possible, look from different directions to check if you do

- After that, use the fine sandpaper again to smooth the edge of the hole

Step 7: Painting

- Use a paint brush to apply the clear coat to the wood - read the instructions on the can/bottle to know when it's dry

- When the first layer of clear coat is dry, use a 400 sandpaper to smooth the surfaces again, then apply another layer of clear coat.

- Let it dry again.

- As you can see, the clear coat really brings out the different colors of the wood

Congratulations! Now your work should be finished and is ready for use.

PS: I'm German, so don't hesitate to tell me if anything is not written in proper english or discribed badly. Thanks


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17 Discussions


Tip 1 year ago on Step 3

Great Instructable, very clearly written and explained.

I have some square wooden coasters which I could use - they have a ridged surface, which might provide an interesting pattern around the sides.

Thought: you could drill small hales in a circle around the central hole and add coloured Cellophane or other to make mood lighting? [I did think of putting the liner in the hole, but that would probably be too close to the flame]


3 years ago

This is great project for all the scrap wood, I took have bins loaded as I can't bring myself to throw any away. I have made some cool things but this is great, thanks for sharing.


3 years ago

Very nice! I don't have any forstner bits but I think i could use the proper size hole saw in the top 2 or 3 pieces and the piece below would provide the flat bottom for the candle. I think I will go out to my shop and start digging out some scraps.


4 years ago on Introduction

Great instructions. My Oma and Opa were both Deutsche! Danke schoen, mein Herr!


9 years ago on Introduction

There are spray on fire retardants available to non-professionals just in case you wanted to be a little safer. They spray on & soak into the wood & then you finish it - it isn't noticeable. I like to spray it into the cup part.

1 reply
Few Bitswoooshhhhh

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Is there one in particular that you recommend? I am making some candle holders and was looking for a fire retardent spray.


7 years ago on Step 7

hi my name is jarrad and i am a student at wesley college in perth and i was just wandering wouldnt it be better to use a sanding belt sorry is i sound silly but iam only 13 thanks.


8 years ago on Introduction

I love this idea. I had some left over quarter sawn oak, mahogany and walnut and I was able to make 9 of these. They came out great. They are going to make great Christmas gifts. Thanks for the great idea.


8 years ago on Introduction

This looks great and I like the fact you are using your wood scraps instead of throwing them away, and several of them would make a very nice gift. All in all, a great instructable. Thank you!


9 years ago on Step 7

Wow, what a great use for scrap wood! Very nice! If you hadn't said you were German, this silly American would never have known! Great job on the woodworking and your descriptions! ~Matt


9 years ago on Introduction

maybe,if you had equal-ish bits of wood, you could glue them, then cut them. It would certainly make sanding more...predictable.
You could also do it if you had bits that were smaller than the others, you would just have to put them higher the smaller they were...
does that make sense? or am I talking out of my a*s?

I would like to give you something to think about. Instead of doing them square try to give them a shape like a cylinder or even an in-regular shape cutting them on the band saw. And with the different wood types and colors glued together you will get very unusual results.

Nice instructable


9 years ago on Introduction

this is a great idead and looks great and all but wouldnt the wood burn with the candle im only 14 and new at this so just wondering


9 years ago on Introduction

Nicely done!  Using different types and colours of wood gives it a really interesting look!