Apr 25, 2024 , ,

Looking for sustainable home decor that adds a touch of rustic elegance to any room? A DIY tealight candle holder made from reclaimed wood is just the thing. This guide will show you how to craft a beautiful tealight candle holder using reclaimed wood, minimizing waste and embracing sustainable practices.

Reducing, reusing, and repurposing makes an important difference for the environment By giving new life to discarded wood, we divert it from landfills and conserve precious natural resources. Reclaimed wood boasts unique markings, knots, and textures, adding warmth and rustic charm to your home. By reusing wood, you lower your carbon impact while introducing a weathered look that is hard to match with any commercial lumber treated with stains. Better still, sourcing free or low-cost wood makes this project incredibly affordable, and you won’t need an extensive assortment of expensive materials.

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Here’s a rundown of the essential materials you’ll need:

Pallet Wood: Sourced from suitable locations, such as a lumber yard, wood shop, or an abandoned barn, pallet wood can often be obtained for free, or you can buy used planks online, making this project remarkably budget-friendly. Remember, pallet wood isn’t your sole option. Reclaimed wood like decking boards, floorboards, old shelves, or even scraps from your garage or garden shed can suffice. The Spruce has a convenient guide to sourcing used pallets locally. When shopping for foraging, look for “HT” markings that indicate the wood is heat-treated and safe.

Quality Wood Glue: Ensuring your tealight candle holder holds together securely demands the use of high-quality wood glue. While Titebond II is recommended, any reputable brand known for its strength and durability will suffice.

Tealight Candles: Avoid cheap, flimsy tealights from discount stores, as they often lack quality and may burn inconsistently or unsafely. Invest in quality tealights for a better flame and longer, more reliable burn. Try soy wax tealights for cleaner burning flames with the  minimal environmental footprint.

Glass Votive Candle Holders: Essential to this project, glass votive tealight candle holders serve to protect the wood from candle flames and mitigate potential fire hazards. The glass votives we’re using measure 5.5cm (approximately 2.2 inches) wide and 6.7cm (2.6 inches) tall, with many purchasing options available online. Look for used or recycled glass votives for an eco-conscious touch.

The Tools You’ll Need

Opt for hand tools like saws, clamps, and planes whenever possible for a more low impact approach to woodworking. They require less energy and offer a satisfying hands-on experience. However, they do require skill and effort. So consider this too when making a project. If you need tools to do this project, explore local thrift and hardware stores for used tools before buying new ones.

You will need a miter saw or hand saw. Once you’ve disassembled the pallet, you can employ either of these tools to trim the boards to size. A miter saw offers speed and precision, while a hand saw provides a budget-friendly alternative. Opt for a sturdy-bladed hand saw capable of handling tough pallet wood.

Often overlooked but essential, clamps play a crucial role in woodworking projects. Luckily, the ones needed here aren’t costly. Utilize F clamps or G clamps to securely glue the boards together.

Choose your planer wisely. While a lunchbox planer is a valuable tool, it comes with a price tag. If you lack one to flatten the pallet wood boards post-gluing, consider an electric planer or a manual handplane. The lunchbox planer offers speed and consistency, but a hand plane can also be effective albeit requiring more effort and skill. If you don’t have a drill press, ask a neighbor. They are hiding, often little used, in garages and workshops everywhere. Also, you will need a 60mm forstner bit, which is essential for drilling holes to create the flat-bottomed hole for the glass votive tealight candle holders. Standard drill bits won’t suffice due to their inability to match the 60mm diameter.

Simplify the task of drilling tealight candle holes with a drill press, though a drill with a cheap drill guide can achieve similar results. Avoid free-handing, as controlling the large forstner bit required for this project can prove challenging.

You will need to cut the strips in the tealight candle holder with a table saw, track saw, or router allows the candlelight to shine through. While a table saw offers convenience, a trim router presents a more budget-friendly option. Unfortunately, there’s no easy manual alternative for this step. Alternatively, get creative with a drill and modify the design to incorporate drilled holes for the candlelight to shine through.

Step-by-Step Guide

For a step-by-step video tutorial on how to make a pallet wood tealight candle holder, check out our video tutorial on YouTube.

First, gather your pallet wood. If you’re unsure how to safely dismantle a pallet, refer to our tutorial on the subject.

The cut the boards to their rough length. Trim the pallet boards to a rough length slightly over 30cm. (1.181 inches). Pallet wood typically measures around 2.2cm (0.866 inches) thick, so aim for four boards to create a sturdy block. Adjust dimensions if your wood is thinner.

Glue the boards together, applying wood glue to three sides of the pallet boards, coating the entire surface with a silicone brush, toothbrush, or finger. Clamp the boards together using F clamps, G clamps, or similar, ensuring proper alignment. Allow the glued boards to dry completely overnight or as per the glue manufacturer’s recommendation for a strong bond.

Plane the boards, flattening the top and bottom surfaces of the glued block using a lunchbox planer. Minimize snipe by setting up a planer bed and create a jig to keep the block upright during planing. Alternatively, use a hand plane or electric plane if a planer is unavailable.

Sand the block thoroughly on all sides using a palm belt sander or random orbital sander. Progress from 80 grit to approximately 240 grit to acheive a smooth finish. Hand sanding is an option if power sanders are unavailable.

Mark the candles holders, trimming the block to 29cm length (approximately 11.42 inches), ensuring flat cut ends. Divide the top surface into three equal sections with diagonal lines. Mark the exact center of each section. Drill evenly spaced holes at these points with a 60mm forstner bit, ensuring sufficient depth for glass votives (approximately 7cm).

Cut lateral lines in the block using a table saw to cut down the block’s sides, set at 1cm incements (approximately 0.394 inches — you can adjust as you like) and to a depth of one board thickness. Alternatively, a track saw or trim router can be used. Exercise caution with power tools, ensuring focused attention. Alternatively, get creative with a drill bit for hole cutting. The final dimensions should be 29cm long approximately 11.42 inches), 8.5cm (3.35 inches) wide, and 8.5cm (3.35 inches) high.

Insert the votive tealight candle holders into the block, each with a tealight candle.

You can stain the wood or leave the tealight candle holder unfinished for a natural, weathered look.

Step back and admire your handiwork! Your pallet wood tealight candle holder adds warmth and elegance to any room, a proud testament to your craftsmanship.

Embrace Imperfections & Personalize

Remember, imperfections add character, which is the charm of reclaimed woodcraft. Embrace the unique markings and variations in your reclaimed wood. Feel free to personalize the design with different shapes, sizes, or even pyrography for a truly one-of-a-kind piece.

Crafting with reclaimed materials allows you to express your creativity while minimizing your environmental impact. This DIY tealight candle holder project is a rewarding way to create a beautiful and sustainable piece of home decor that reflects your values and brings joy to your space. So, grab your tools, embrace the upcycling spirit, and embark on this eco-responsible project!

About the Authors

Michael Martin and Nikki Rixon started their business Reclaim Design in 2013. Subscribe to their YouTube channel for more videos filled with practical advice, eco-friendly tips, and inspiration to help you live a more sustainable life.

By Earth911

We’re serious about helping our readers, consumers and businesses alike, reduce their waste footprint every day, providing quality information and discovering new ways of being even more sustainable.