Votive Candle Holders

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This article is from Issue 62 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Make this matching set of Arts & Crafts home accents.

(small) 41⁄2"w × 41⁄2"d × 71⁄4"h

(medium) 41⁄2"w × 41⁄2"d × 81⁄2"h
(large) 41⁄2"w × 41⁄2"d × 93⁄4"h

Hone your tablesaw skills crafting a trio of stands in three heights. I used frame-and-panel construction to build them and a jig to taper-cut the uprights. For a consistent grain pattern, I chose riftsawn white oak for the uprights and quartersawn white oak for the panels.

Note: To make this trio of stands, adjust the length of the uprights and panels. See the Cut List for dimensions. By lengthening parts (A) and (D), you can make three different stand heights. See the Convenience-Plus Buying Guide for the square, frosted votives seen here.

Start with the Uprights

1 For the uprights (A) for all three stand sizes, cut four blanks for each stand to 11⁄4" square by the lengths in the Cut List. I laminated thinner stock to create the 11⁄4"-square upright blanks. (To do this, I initially cut 8 pieces a few inches longer than needed.)

2 Fit your tablesaw with a dado blade and featherboard. Then cut a pair of 1⁄4" grooves 1⁄4" deep along two inside edges of each upright (A). Mark the taper cutlines on the outside faces of each upright for reference in the next step.

Adjust the fence so the blade aligns with the marked cutline, and make the first tapered cut.

3 Build the taper jig shown in Figure 2, and fit your tablesaw with a zero-clearance auxiliary saw top, adhering it with double-faced tape. (I used 1⁄8" hardboard.) Since you are trimming narrow pieces off two edges of each upright, the auxiliary table prevents the off-cuts from falling into the blade and shooting back. To push the jig and upright through the cut, use a pushblock and use the tape to adhere the workpiece to the taper jig. Make the first taper cut on each upright as shown in Photo A. Rotate the upright on the jig 90°, and make the second taper cut. (The taper cuts are opposite the edges having grooves.)

When crosscutting the short rails, a notched hold-down stop is needed to secure the pieces.
Use a sharp dado blade and backer board to create near perfect notches without chipping.

Create the frames

1 Cut the top rails (B) and the bottom rails (C) to the sizes in the Cut List. Fit your tablesaw with a dado blade, and cut a pair of opposing rabbets across each end of the rails so the resulting tenons fit snugly within the 1⁄4" grooves in the uprights (A). For safety when cutting the rabbets, I used a miter gauge fitted with an auxiliary fence and hold-down stop, as shown in Photo B. When crosscutting short pieces, push the stock and miter gauge across the dado blade. Turn off the saw, reposition the miter gauge and workpiece, start the saw, and cut the next rabbet. Pull back the miter gauge after the blade stops.

2 From 1⁄4"-thick solid white oak stock, cut four panels (D) to size for each stand plus 1⁄4" in width using a standard 1⁄8" blade. Make two ripcuts through each panel blank, where dimensioned in Figure 3. Fit your tablesaw with a 1⁄4" dado blade and cut four 1⁄4" notches in each edge of the four center strips, as shown in Photo C.

Tap in nails in the particleboard to snug up and edge-join several panels at once; the particleboard provides a flat surface on which to work.
Check for a flush fit at the assembly’s top end before gluing the parts together.

3 With the surfaces and ends flush, glue and clamp the panels back together. Clamp the pieces making up the panels on a length of particleboard or plywood that is covered with waxed paper, as shown in Photo D. Use finish nails along the edges of the panels to hold the pieces together until the glue dries. (You don’t need a lot of clamping pressure here. Plus, the parts are easy to adjust.) Later, remove the nails, and sand the panel surfaces smooth.

4 Sand all the pieces (A, B, C, and D) smooth. Dry-assemble two frames in the configuration shown in Photo E to check the fit of the rails and panels between the uprights (A). Now, glue and clamp the frames together. Add the remaining panels and rails to form the stand assemblies.

5 Rip a long 1⁄4 × 1⁄4" filler strip (E) to fit within the exposed groove in each upright below the bottom rails. Crosscut the filler strips to length, and glue them in place. If necessary, sand the bottom ends of the strips flush with the bottom ends of the uprights (A).

Employ a pair of corner cleats attached to a sheet good substrate to make clamping up the mitered top easier to manage.

Make the top assembly

1 To form the top (F), cut a piece of 1⁄2"-thick oak to 15⁄8" wide by 25" long, as shown in Figure 4. Along one edge, cut a 1⁄4" rabbet 1⁄4" deep to fit the top panel (G) later. Bevel the opposite edge at 30° on your tablesaw for a finished width of 11⁄2".

2 Next, using a stop, miter-cut four 51⁄8" long pieces from the strip, and glue them together as shown in Photo F. Later, sand the top smooth and lightly sand along the outside chamfered edges to soften them.

3 Cut the top panel (G) to size, and glue it into the rabbeted bottom in the top (F).

Glue the top to the base, and finish

1 Finish-sand the top and base assemblies through 220 grit.

2 Center and glue the top assembly (F/G) to the base assembly. Remove any squeeze-out, and let the glue dry

3 Stain the votive candle stand. (I used General Finishes Black Cherry thinned 30% with water.) Finally, apply a clear finish. (I used spray lacquer.)  

About Our Author

A founding member of the San Diego Woodworking Association, Marlen Kemmet’s career in woodworking and woodworking publications stems back to the early 1980s.  He likes building furniture and home accents in the Greene- and-Greene style for his home in rural Dallas County, Iowa.


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