Add character to a simple candle holder

Weathered barn board adds character to this candle holder

By Paul Lewis

Photo by Roger Yip

This simple candle holder always gets rave reviews when I make it for someone as a gift. The key ingredient here is weathered barn board. Don’t make this project with new wood unless you intend to distress it afterward. There is a Canadian product called LifeTime Wood Treatment from Valhalla Wood Preservatives Ltd. that turns new wood grey in an attractive way. It may help you achieve the weathered look.


Make a weathered-looking candle holder

Dislodge any loose dirt or wood from the material by scrubbing the barn board with a stiff nylon brush. This precaution will prevent dangerous bits from flying across your shop while you are working.

Next, rip a length of stock to width for the top and feet, then crosscut these parts to length. A tablesaw does a great job for both these tasks, but a handsaw also works fine on small parts like these. The materials list includes a 10" length for the top (enough for three candles), but feel free to make the project as long as you like. I've made versions that hold as many as 12 candles that run the entire length of a dining table, offering quite a presence.

Build the bottom

Once the top is cut to length, prepare the 45° chamfers on the ends. If you have a tablesaw it will make short work of these cuts. But a sharp chisel or hand plane can do a great job if you're just tooling up or prefer a quieter building experience. The tablesaw really shines at making the dado grooves underneath the top that hold the piece's feet. If you don't have one, make matching pairs of saw cuts the width of the required grooves, then clean out all the waste in between with a chisel that is slightly narrower than the groove.

Move to the drillpress or hand drill and bore the flat-bottomed holes, the seats for the candles. A Forstner bit does an ideal job because of its small central spur, but you can get a similar result by grinding the tip of a spade bit down to half its original size. Finally, attach the feet to the top with glue.

No finish is required here; it would only detract from the candle holder's rustic look. Just remember to use the candles that come in tin cups, commonly known as “tealights.” They won't drip wax on the wood.

Tools & Materials

Part Material Size (T x W x L*) Qty.

Top barn board 7/8" x 3" x 10" 1
Feet barn board 7/8" x 1" x 3" 2

* Length indicates grain direction

Recommended Tools


Add character to a simple candle holder

Illustration by Len Churchill


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Lora Kee

Lora Kee

Sep. 6, 2012

12:59 pm

Hi Blindman03,

We generally only sell the project plans, not the completed projects. But, you should consider the cost of materials, how many hours it took you to make, plus a small amount for overhead (wear on tools, etc).


Aug. 23, 2012

8:37 am

I made this project and it turned out very well, I have some people that want me to make them one, I don't know how much to charge. What are you selling them for?

Thank nYou,


Canadian Home Workshop

Canadian Home Workshop

May. 7, 2012

1:00 pm

Hi Blindman03,

The plan is designed to be adaptable to different sizes - the example given is for a 10" board, but it could be adapted to a 12" board or longer. Basically, as long as you start in the middle and measure so that they're evenly spaced, the design will work with a variety of different lengths. Same with the feet - as long as you measure in the same amount on both sides, the actual measurement doesn't matter that much, so long as you don't go in so far that it sacrifices stability. But you are correct, more guidelines could be given here to save some math to make the design shown, with the information on how to expand the plan for a larger candle holder.

We'd love to see how yours turned out. Show us at


May. 5, 2012

9:16 pm

I found the instructions on this was poor. It doesn't tell you how far from the end to start the first hole on top for the candle. Also on the bottom how far from the end to start the slot for the feet. Other than that is was good.

I made mine out of old decking board.

Have a great day,


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