Multiples: Candle Holders

This week in Fabrication, I decided to shoot myself in the foot by choosing to make five candle holders that play with different wood grains inspired by this image:

I made some sketches and spoke to Ben about it in advance to plan for an efficient execution process. I proudly showed off the 97 cent sticks of wood I picked up on Sunday at Lowe’s. Ben warned that the shop was not well-equipped for me to make straight cuts to square off the rounded edges and the visual effect I want to create requires a lot of gluing. Wood glue takes 8 hours to dry. Of course, I didn’t listen and later came to regret everything.

I started out by drawing straight lines on the surface of the wood to use as guidelines to cut way the rounded corners. I figured since I was starting on my project early, it would be fine and I could get more practice on the bandsaw. In my mind, it was similar to sewing a seam. I likened the the rounded corners to 1/8″ seam allowances, the bandsaw to the needle, and the metal fence to the needle plate.

I quickly learned the bandsaw requires more force and control than a sewing machine. This process took forever and the fence was pretty unreliable, but I managed to get the “straight” corners I wanted by carefully following my guidelines. I sanded them down, sat down to play with the orientations of the wood grains and got to gluing. At some point the cap of the wood glue came off and exploded onto my shirt and hair. Lesson learned to always tie the hair back and wear an apron.


The next day, I realized it completely went over my head that since I essentially wanted to orient the three blocks of wood like the “π” (pi) symbol, I would have to glue the two smaller blocks together, which meant waiting another night for glue to dry, cut into sections, and gluing…and waiting…again. I joked with some classmates that I should just cut out 5 circles and tell Ben I made 5 pancakes instead. It was a good thing I started this project early.

With my trusty grid ruler, I cut the blocks into sections, leaving extra room for cutting and sanding.

This is how they turned out. Not perfect nor straight, but maybe that’s okay. We’ll just call them…”rustic”.

I still need to drill a hole in the center for the tea candle – 0.5 (H) x 1.5 (Dia), but I couldn’t find the right spade bit in the shop last night, so in the meantime, they are wooden paper weights. I learned a lot from this experience, and my goal for the next project is to design something as visually effective as is easy to execute. As Henry David Thoreau said in Walden, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify!”

One thought on “Multiples: Candle Holders

  1. Nice work. Yes, joining wood together is very challenging, even in the best of shops. The material needs to be flat and straight and under pressure for it to look right.

    I think after the sanding, the blocks look good. A little bit of a wood finish will make the grain pop. I suggest an oil finish, tung oil or boiled linseed oil. If you have questions on how to apply please ask.

    If you want to borrow a 1.5″ diam Forstner bit to drill the candle holes, please come on by.

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