How To Craft A Cool Decorative Wooden Tealight Candle Holder
Tealight candles have been very successful for decorative purposes throughout the world; these small candles emit a warm dim light and sometimes fragrance and are ideal for romantic situations. Their price is very low especially if bought in bulk and there is large variety of colors, scents and sizes for any taste. Though they don't usually last for long, they are preferred because they are generally "clean" and leave no candle residue when they have been consumed.
In stores you can find quite a lot of different tealight candle holders, made of wood or other material. The tealight holder is the base which contains the candle; they can come in many styles and sizes and are always a nice addition to decorate a room.
Nevertheless, you do not have to buy a commercially made tealight candle holder - instead you can opt to create your own, personalizing it to your tastes and working on something which will be handmade and totally different from the ones sold. Here I will show you how you can do it.
What you will need
Timber - you can choose a log, a piece of wood or any other wood you can get your hands on. Depending on the design you have in mind, not all woods would be suitable.
Power Tool - you will need an electric power tool to drill the cavities for the tealight. Since this requires stable hands and precise drilling, a bench holder for your power tool would also prove useful.
Forstner bit - (of the appropriate diameter for your tealight candles) this kind of bit is typically used when someone wants to create a large round cavity/hole but without going through the wood to the other side. Additionally, with a forstner, the cavity which is generated does not have a large central hole from the drill, but a tiny one which does not look bad.
Sandpapers - to fix minor flaws of the timber and to smooth the surface
Paint brush and paint/varnish - applied when the work is completed, in order to help protect the wood and of course for beautifying your holder.
A rotary tool, such as Dremel, and bits - in case you want to carve/engrave patterns and design on your holder
A pyrography tool - for further work on your creation, such as for drawing on it
Starting Your Design
Once you have acquired a wood piece which seems good for your purpose, spend some time thinking on how you can use it.
Is it a large one or small one?
How many tealight cavities can it have?
Which side is the one which looks better?
Once these questions are answered, you are ready to start. At first, use the sandpaper to smoothen the surface of the wood. Find where the center of the cavities will be (use a ruler if you are aiming for precise symmetric holes) and note the center with a pencil or marker. This is where the small tip of the forstner bit will touch to initiate the wood drilling; make sure the hole centers are aligned at the center of the axis of the wood. You can grab your power tool now and attach the forstner bit.
Working with power tools or other electric devices involves some risks and it's why we always take safety precautions. Use gloves and put on safety goggles, make sure your electrical connections are safe, stabilize the wood firmly so you avoid slipping and accident. Use some common sense and if you have low experience on such works, ask a friend to help you. I do not want to be held responsible for accidents which COULD happen if you are careless.
If you have a bench holder for your power tool you can have more precise and easier drilling; if not, you can still drill the cavities but it will need very steady hands (a second set of hands would be helpful too). Touch the tip of the forstner at the spot you marked before and start drilling vertically and with quite much force. Be prepared for much sawdust and sawflakes and possibly some smoke too. THe wood will resist the forstner and generate heat, which combined with the sawdust will cause smoke. You can lower your pressure when the bit seems to be struggling and smoking, to let it reach high speed again. Stop often to check if the cavity is deep enough for your candle - keep one available for your tests.
If you have more than one tealight holes, drill all of them now to the desired depth. Also consider that not all tealight candles have the same height. Make your holes as deep as the height of the tealight candles you have or commonly find in stores.
Decorating Your Holder
Now you probably have a piece of wood with 1 or more slots for tealight candles. Check your wood thoroughly to make sure that it is still intact and without cracks; sometimes the woods will crack when much pressure has been applied on them. If the wood has cracked, you are very unlucky. You can try to find another wood and restart the process.
If it seems sturdy and at good condition still, you need to use the sandpaper inside the cavities, to smoothen their sides. Use an appropriate sandpaper for the kind of wood you have, without exerting too much pressure.
At this time you need to check whether your wood can stand on its own; if this was a round log, then you probably need to create feet for it so it will never roll and cause accidents. For feet, you can use typical plastic or rubber feet for devices, or pieces of wood which you will either glue or screw to the main holder.
Your holder is ready to accommodate your tealight candles; however, you can opt to work on it some more to decorate it even more. If you have a rotary tool, you can consider engraving a pattern (such as zigzag lines, curves or even names). Use a suitable bit for engraving or carving on wood. When your work is done, clean the dust away and sandpaper again to fine the wood. Another option is to use a pyrography tool for the same reason, only this time you will be drawing on the wood by burning it.
When all decoration adjustments have been made, you are ready to paint the wood. If you like the natural color of the wood, use a transparent varnish to add a shiny finish which will glow amazingly when the candles have been lit. If the color isn't that good and there are visual flaws on the surface that you would prefer to cover, use a colored paint on your wood. Leave it (preferably overnight) to dry in a well ventilated space. You can use it the next day.
Some More Ideas
Once you have the "feel" of working with a forstner bit, you will soon go full of ideas on new shapes and designs of tealight holders. It all depends on the shapes and quality of timber you can get; you can opt to visit stores to find ideal wood pieces for your creations.
Just to give you a possible turn your ideas can take, I will show you my latest tealight holder. There is a large log (its length is around 12 inch), cylinder shape of course, which has been drilled to contain 3 tealight candles. The log has been further decorated by a rotary tool - I engraved a small pattern which looks like curvy sun rays coming out of each of the cavities. At the bottom of the log, I glued and nailed two small pieces of wood as feet which will help it stand still.
At the sides of the log, I drilled 2 small holes, one on each side. I also took 2 nails with length of around 5 inch, on which I used my rotary tool with a metal cutting disc to cut the heads off. I inserted these nails in the holes I had drilled at the log and used a hammer to push them deep in and steady.
I sawed 2 "cups" out of a second log of wood. I actually used the saw to cut off two pieces with length of 5 inches approximately, and drilled at their center a tealight cavity with the forstner. I further decorated the cups - the one got curved lines at the tom and sides, and the second got a zigzag pattern. On both "cups" I drilled a hole, in which I inserted the other end of the nails. I used glue to strengthen the bond between the nail tip and the wood, since I could not hammer the nails deep in the cups.
The final result, as you can see at the picture on the right (I had to take my creation outside so the photo ends up clear enough) is a central log which is attached to 2 cups, one on each side. Needless to say, this creation is quite large and very heavy, but it does look good, don't you think?
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