Walnut and Hard Maple Tealight Candle Holder

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Project by Jonathan posted 06-23-2010 11:09 PM 6473 views 17 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made this tealight candle holder a few weeks ago out of walnut and hard maple, but it sat unfinished down in the basement. A couple of days ago, my wife was getting ready to send a 10th wedding anniversary card to some friends of ours out in Michigan. I said if she could wait an extra day, I could finish the candleholder and mail everything together. So I quickly applied 4-5 coats of spray-on dewaxed shellac.

I normally take meticulous notes with measurements of everything to include here. Sorry, I forgot to do that on this one. I realized it after I was driving back home from the post office this morning. I do remember that the angle on the ends and sides was 30-degrees.

I had to use sacrificial cauls to get the holes for the candles to come out as clean as they did without getting any tearout on the hard maple. I really need to make myself a drill press table to make all of my drill press work faster and easily repeatable!

I always tend to use odd numbers of candles, as I feel it is the best way to balance things out from a design standpoint.

Wood used: 4/4 walnut, 5/4 hard maple.

Hand sanded 80-120-150-220-320. I barely rounded all the edges and corners over, just enough to soften any sharp edges.

I used Titebond III for the glue-up.

Finish was 4-5 coats Bulls-Eye Seal Coat spray-on (dewaxed) Shellac.

I woodburned the message “Happy 10th Anniversary!” onto the bottom, plus my signature and date.

The 1.5” forstner bit I have is the perfect size to drop a tealight into without any play.

I wanted to make this candleholder with the candles hanging out the sides a bit to add a metallic element into the design, plus I wanted to experiment with using a backer/sacrificial caul on the drill press, as I’ve never had to drill out the side of wood before like I did here.

I decided this morning that simple little items like this are easy enough to make and have a few of sitting around for a last minute occasion such as this. I’m overloaded enough as it is with all of the house projects, plus making items for the fundraiser I’m blogging about right now, plus a full time job. If and when I ever get caught up with everything, I will begin to accumulate a stock pile of similar items to this so we have last minute gifts.

These are excellent projects to use scrap pieces on! Why waste it, when you can make it?

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

14 comments so far

View rayn's profile


198 posts in 4503 days

#1 posted 06-23-2010 11:50 PM

Great work and excellent design

-- Ray,Iowa

View degoose's profile


7285 posts in 4640 days

#2 posted 06-24-2010 12:41 AM

Not bad at all..

-- Be safe.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4619 days

#3 posted 06-24-2010 01:19 AM

Good one Jonathan.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 4715 days

#4 posted 06-24-2010 08:27 AM

Very nice design and build. I like the different elements (wood and metal) mixed in this piece. Great choice of woods also.

I also want to mention, Thank You for putting all the tags on this. If more people would get into that habit, it would help the search function a LOT.

Keep it up.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View kosta's profile


946 posts in 4639 days

#5 posted 06-24-2010 08:52 AM

looks good

View Ken90712's profile


18081 posts in 4474 days

#6 posted 06-24-2010 11:05 AM

They should love it.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View AaronK's profile


1512 posts in 4749 days

#7 posted 06-24-2010 02:18 PM

i like the use of negative space for the candle holes. good twist on this type of thing.

View 4thumbs's profile


153 posts in 4431 days

#8 posted 06-24-2010 02:20 PM

Great idea, and nicely done!

-- 4thumbs in MO

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 4335 days

#9 posted 06-24-2010 03:22 PM

Thank you for the kind words everybody!

Just wanted to try something different on this one.

I drilled the holes, but decided that the candleholder still looked pretty plain, like the sides just weren’t sleek enough or something, so I beveled them first.

After beveling the sides, it looked better, but still awkward, a bit lethargic, and incomplete… like it had more to reveal. I know, I know, maybe a dramatic statement to make, but a lot of you have probably sat there doing just the same thing: staring at a piece, or pieces of wood, trying to figure out how to make them sing a bit. Afterall, I was “showing some candle,” so I better have something else to back up such a daring move, something complementary and just as racy. (OK, stop laughing at my outrageous prose and keep reading please.)

I studied it for a while and came up with beveling the ends as well. I beveled one end to the same height as the sides and looked at it. Now there was an apron or belt all the way around it. The candleholder still seemed a bit “blocky”. So I took in the end about 3/16” farther to produce the sharper beveled ends that you see now. I thought it looked good so I did the other side.

Maybe I’ll start calling these “Candle Boats,” as this one does resemble a boat, at least in my eyes. This is a bit faster looking boat, compared to the other “barges” I’ve made. ;)

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

View AaronK's profile


1512 posts in 4749 days

#10 posted 06-24-2010 03:28 PM

interesting story, thanks for the perspective. as far as the candle holes go, did you drill them as they are, or drill them into a wider board first then rip away to expose some skin?

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 4335 days

#11 posted 06-24-2010 03:35 PM


I actually drilled them as you see them. All of the wood was glued-up before I drilled the holes, so I had to do it that way. I just carefully clamped a couple pieces of scrap wood to it, one on each side of the maple, resting on top of the walnut. It probably would’ve been easier to drill the holes, then rip the sides, then glue everything together.

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

View Diggerjacks's profile


2330 posts in 4424 days

#12 posted 06-24-2010 06:55 PM

Good project
Good design
Good work

A word only : good

Not good just excellent

-- Diggerjack-France ---The only limit is the limit of the mind and the mind has no limit

View bgriggs's profile


8 posts in 4501 days

#13 posted 06-27-2010 02:11 AM

Very pretty. Simple but elegant.


View a1Jim's profile


118296 posts in 4862 days

#14 posted 06-27-2010 02:51 AM

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