Candle Holder for Mother's Day

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Project by Jonathan posted 05-10-2010 05:55 PM 3423 views 15 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made this candle holder for my mom for Mother’s Day. We had a family brunch yesterday and I presented it to her then, but explained I wasn’t happy with the finish and that I’d work on it a bit more. Well, it’s done now, so I’m going to deliver it today.

It is made from walnut and hard maple. I cut all the pieces on the tablesaw, then used the router and drill press equipped with a forstner bit. I should’ve switched my regular saw blade out for my dado blade, but didn’t feel like it. So, I had to get the chisel out to even up the kerf lines.

The only new thing I did on this project was freehanding the cove on the router. I used a 1/4-inch radius cove bit in my Bosch 1617EVS plunge router base. I have used the router freehand before, but not to make a finished edge like this, so was very careful to keep it flat on the piece and to hug the corners when going around them. I’m sure it would’ve been easier if I’d used another piece of walnut as a support piece, but it would’ve been slightly thicker since I sanded this one down before using the router.

I woodburned my name, 2010, and the message, “Happy Mother’s Day” into the bottom of the piece.

Hand sanded through 120-150-220-320-400.

The holes for the votive candles were drilled out to 3/8-inch deep with a 2-inch forstner bit. I didn’t really sand the forstner holes since they’ll be filled with the votives.

The feet, legs, whatever you want to call the maple risers, were simply glued on with Titebond III and clamped overnight.

Finish was 2-coats of Zinsser Bulls Eye Seal Coat (dewaxed shellac), burnished with 0000 steel wool after each coat. Originally, that was going to be the finish, but I wasn’t pleased with it, so that’s why I held it for an extra day and applied 3-coats of Deft semi gloss spray lacquer. I need some more practice applying the shellac! I think I need to switch from a foam brush to a bristle brush, as I’m still getting too thick of a coat at once. I honestly haven’t researched the best way to apply shellac, so if you want to chime-in here, feel free.

The only things I would do differently if I had to do this same piece again would be to do a better job of applying the shellac (I just need practice and the right brush I think), and with the size of this piece, I think I might use a smaller forstner bit and drill the holes to accept tea lights rather than votives, as it might be more proportionate with the tea lights. I think I’d also use my dado blade set to cut the channels in the hard maple to accept the walnut.

Overall dimensions are as follows:
overall height: 1-1/4-inches, plus votives
Walnut slab: 11-3/16-inches long, by 2-3/4-inches wide, by 3/4-inch thick, 1/4-inch radius cove is 3/32-inch deep
Hard Maple: 15/16-inch wide, by 1-1/32-inch tall, by 4-1/4-inches longj, with a 19/32-inch deep dado that is 2-3/4-inches wide to accomodate the walnut

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

5 comments so far

View Todd Clare's profile

Todd Clare

67 posts in 3669 days

#1 posted 05-10-2010 06:12 PM

That’s gorgeous!

I love the simplicity, yet elegance of it. The finish looks great too, despite the shellac adventure. I also admire your woodburning. I may have wimped out not wanting to ruin it with my terrible handwriting ;)

If you ever need the router table, you’re more than welcome! I’ve found the 50 pound table and fence is a lot better than my twitchy hands are…

-- Todd (Denver, CO -- Highlands)

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3758 days

#2 posted 05-10-2010 06:19 PM

Nice job.

For a project like this you might want to consider a spray on shellac. You can spray a very thin layer ever 30 minutes or so and it builds up nicely with no brush marks.

Note that shellac is not very durable, heat resistant or water resistant but those should not be issues in this type of application.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 3734 days

#3 posted 05-10-2010 06:55 PM


Thank you for the kind words. It is simple, but I didn’t want anything too complicated for this. And yes, I will have to take you up on your router table offer one of these days.


I had a pint of Zinsser Seal Coat on-hand, but I think I will probably start experimenting with the spray-on shellac (both dewaxed and cut). I should’ve thought of that before. Something like this project certainly doesn’t need to be durable, or heat resistant since the bottom of the votives barely get warm to the touch when the candle is burned down at the bottom.

Wish I’d have thought of the spray shellac before, as I think all the edges are what got me into trouble since the shellac “doubled-up” there, even though I was trying to be careful. I will probably pick-up a can at the big box store later today as I need to return a few things, and that way, I’ll have it for next time. Thanks for the heads-up on that… don’t know why I didn’t think of it?

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 4018 days

#4 posted 05-10-2010 07:29 PM

Great Mother’s day gift and well done. I’m sure your mom was pleased.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Stevinmarin's profile


838 posts in 3759 days

#5 posted 05-11-2010 08:10 AM

Love it. Love the simple, sleek lines. Looks sort of far-eastern.

-- Entertainment for mere mortal woodworkers.

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