Elm Burl tea light candles, or "Fence Post Art"

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Project by HalDougherty posted 12-12-2011 01:47 PM 3889 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve found a use for some scrap wood I’ve been saving for a little over two years. I sawed a beautiful elm log, woops I made a mistake… It was an ugly elm log... But it was like the ugly duckling that became a swan when it grew up. With only a little sanding, this elm burl rivals the finest American Black Walnut in color and beauty. The entire log looks fantastic and I’ve been saving the slabs to make some beautiful furniture. The log was too big to saw on a Timberking B-20 sawmill, so I split the log and sawed each half into quartersawn slabs. I ended up with a beautiful stack of slabs with a live edge, and a few narrow strips with a lot of burl showing in the live edge. To make these candles, I just cut the narrow strips into chunks with the most interesting grain patterns, sanded them, drilled a few 1 1/2” holes, and rubbed in three coats of tung oil. The last coat was rubbed in with extra fine stainless steel wool on the flat surfaces. I used a wire brush wheel to clean the irregular surface and remove any traces of bark that were left. The last two photos show some of the raw elm I have left. The next to last photo shows a bench I’ve started. The top is finished and the parts are ready to cut the mortise and tenons. The last photo shows a block that was saved when the tree was cut on a stack of slabs! It’s amazing how beautiful this log turned out.

These candle holders help to find a use for wood that might otherwise be wasted. Any interesting scrap of wood can be used to make a tea light candle holder. The strips look so much like a split fence post. I call my candle holders, “Fence Post Art”

-- Hal, Tennessee

7 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25909 posts in 4111 days

#1 posted 12-12-2011 02:00 PM

What a beautiful way to present tea candles, that is gorgeous wood. Thanks for sharing, Hal!!
Merry Christmas to you and your family!............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Roman - THE BOOTMAN's profile


1065 posts in 3692 days

#2 posted 12-12-2011 06:16 PM

What a treasure Hal! Nicely done.
Merry Christmas to you and your family! RH

-- Author of POWER CARVING BOOTS & SHOES - Schiffer Publishing. Available online or your favourite bookstore.

View LelandStone's profile


90 posts in 3519 days

#3 posted 12-12-2011 07:40 PM

They’re beautiful! Thanks for sharing this, Hal. Quietly jotting down notes and swiping the idea


-- Leland, OC California

View peteg's profile


4436 posts in 3829 days

#4 posted 12-12-2011 10:18 PM

Nice job Hal, these are quite unique well done, I love playing with old posts as well which is what my last post was made from :: ))

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3928 days

#5 posted 12-13-2011 03:04 AM

Nice job on not wasting those beautiful pieces. They are a nice Christmas gifts. Merry Christmas Hal!.

-- Bert

View STL's profile


68 posts in 3838 days

#6 posted 12-13-2011 03:29 AM


-- Dan Siggers, Alabama,

View WoodGoddess's profile


100 posts in 3073 days

#7 posted 12-07-2012 08:28 PM

Nice! I’m going to try this!!!! Thanks!!!

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