This is a fun, decorative idea to make wood log candles, that isn't very time consuming, if you have the right tools and supplies. We cut down a huge dead tree last November, and unfortunately had to sacrifice a few small live trees in the process. With tons of hardwood logs and branches available, we got busy with lots of ideas. This one has been pretty popular with our friends and family as gifts.
What you need:
Drill press with 1 1/2" forstner bit
Wood logs of your choice
Wood burning tool (optional)
When picking your logs, stick with hardwood. You don't want anything that produces sap (like pine) because it will be messy and flammable. We also used a 10" blade on the miter saw, but it restricts the cutting size so make sure you plan your sizes accordingly. I had some larger logs i wanted to cut but will have to wait on those.
I like to make three pieces for a single arrangement: 3, 5, and 7" in height. I also do a 1" slice to use as a snuffer that I wood burn and personalize. The tricky thing about cutting natural logs is that you probably wont get perfectly straight cuts due to the variations and curves, so do your best to judge the straightest angle.
Once you cut your pieces, decide which end looks the best for the votive to sit in. I like to keep the side that has natural color variations or unique shapes if I'm lucky to get some. Find the center of where the candle will sit and mark it with an "X"; this will help you be 100% sure which side is correct to drill once you get going with that part.
Using your drill press, drill out a hole just deep enough for the tea light candle to sit snuggly and flush with the top of the log. Maybe a few practice drills on spare logs will help to make sure you don't create a hole too deep as some of our first pieces had uneven depth until we got the hang of it!
Now, since I used live trees for this, I experienced some interesting results over the few days it took for me to finish this project. The first surprise was the splitting that occurred on the tops of the logs. I'm guessing cutting the hole weakened the wood so it cracked as it continued to dry. In the end, I felt like it contributed to the natural feel of the log, although part of my perfectionist mind kept thinking it ruined it. I got over it and no one knew that it wasn't an intentional part of the design! Another issue I ran into was a little bit of molding on the thicker logs. I had the logs sitting upright on a towel in my dining room, and after a few days of no movement a little colony decided to take up residence on the bottom side. I wiped it down with a hot rag and then decided to lay them on their sides for a while until I found their new home. No more issues after that!
Making the Snuffer
The snuffer wedge was just an after thought where I decided it would be a great way to personalize these candles. I chose a theme of using the year of the recipients wedding, but the sky is the limit as far as what your could put on there. I do not own a "real" wood burning tool, but I recommend one if you plan on making more than one of these sets. I used my husbands super cheap soldering iron for his drone.... It was very difficult to get the hang of and required lots of testing to be ok with its results.
On the 1" slice, I burn the two initials of the couple, then the year they married. On the reverse, I burned "snuff here". A few extra minutes to do this simple piece really brought it all together in my opinion!
That's it, all done! This really is a fun craft to DIY, and your kids can help scout out prime pieces during walks in the woods. I even came across some logs just driving through my neighborhood and seeing some branch cuttings out for trash pickup!
Do you have any tips to share about your experience making these candle holders? I'd love to hear from you!