Advent candle holder

This project started out with Rachel wanting to buy a pewter advent candle holder for about $130. And I didn't think it even looked that nice. But it was Friday, and the first of advent was just two days away, so I had to come up with something quick.

I drew something up in SketchUp that I figured would be fairly quick to make.

I used my bigprint program to print a 1:1 top view of the main ring, four times, then cut those out and pasted them onto a piece of 2x6 lumber. 2x4 would have been wide enough but I didn't have a 2x4 handy.

My initial idea was to cut it out as two halves, which would be much simpler, but that would rely too much on cross-grain strength of the wood, so it would be quite breakable. So I opted for four segments instead.

I cut those out on the bandsaw.

I clamped a piece of lumber to my belt sander table to provide a right angle stop, which helped to square up and flatten the ends where the segments join.

Checking the fit after sanding. The pieces made a satisfying click as I pushed them together.

Then sanding the saw marks off and smoothing it. Here sanding the only convex curve with my strip sander.

I could sand some of the concave curves with the roller of my 6x48 belt sander

I had to swap in the convex platen on my strip sander to do the other concave curves. This is the first time I used that convex platen in over two years, mostly because I also made a convex platen clip that attaches to the flat platen, but for these pieces, that clip would have been too bulky to get in the corners.

Sanding the concave curves right into the corners.

After that I didn't need the templates anymore. They were glued on with dabs of glue stick so they came off relatively easily. I removed the residue with the belt sander.

A simple butt joined miter would probably have been enough, but I wanted to reinforce the joints. A biscuit joint might have been suitable, and I even have a biscuit jointer, but

The squares that go on top of the main ring are made of a darker wood. I tilted the bandsaw table to cut these at a slight angle. Then cleaning it up and beveling the corners on the belt sander.

Now I could put these squares on the main ring to see how the finished candle holder would look.

At this point I realized that the main ring looked a bit too bulky.

I used the curve of the main ring from one of the left over template pieces to mark an arc on all the curved pieces, then cut that out on the bandsaw

After that I sanded all the corners of the pieces. Those inside edges would be hard to get at with a belt sander after assembly.

I made a floating tenon to fit in the slot mortises. I made it to exactly fit the slot mortises, but then I realized the slot mortises were not exactly in the center of the faces laterally, so I had to make the tenon piece a tiny bit narrower to give it a bit of slack for lining things up.

I then glued two pairs together first.

The ends of these pairs didn't fit together quite perfectly, so I sanded the ends flat and co-planar on the belt sander

Then the surfaces mated perfectly.

I drilled holes in the dark square. First a larger hole for extra detail, but also to make a cavity to catch wax, then the hole for the candle.

I also decided to trim the main ring some more to make the integral squares of that ring less deep and not touch the table. First I cut in from the edge...

Then I cut from below, both using a table saw sled, to cut a rabbet off the outside corners.

After that, some more sanding to smooth out where the pieces joined together.

Then gluing on the dark brown squares.

The candles were about half a millimeter too large for the holes I drilled, so I drilled a hole on the edge of a piece of wood to make a sort of candle-resizer, which worked like a pencil sharpener. It didn't work as elegantly as I hoped, but it got the job done.

And here it is with the candles. Those candles are perhaps a bit too long for it, though I didn't want to make the candle holder any wider either. I bought some other candles from the dollar store for a tenth of the price of the beeswax candles and cut them to length, just to get a better thumbnail for YouTube.

See also:

Rachel makes
Olin's letters

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