Simple candle holder

This easy project will brighten any corner

By Jennifer Hart

Photo by Felix Wedgwood

When I was asked to design a project for the interactive workshop at the 2009 Canadian Home Workshop Show, I knew I had to come up with something easy enough for a person who has never used a power tool before yet complicated enough to keep a more experienced person interested. This candle sconce is a project that not only looks good but is functional as well.


Back into it

Begin with the curved detail at the top of the back. Cutting curves isn’t hard; cutting them symmetrically is. For this design, I traced a roll of masking tape for the shape of the top curve and a juice lid for one of the second, smaller lower curves, then joined the two. Rather than draw the pattern for the entire curve on the board, simply draw one half on an old file folder, cut it with scissors or a knife to the centre mark, then fold it over and trace the other half before cutting the template into shape.

Both side pieces are made in a similar way: draw the shape on a piece of paper or cardboard and cut it out to use as your template. You’re now ready to cut the curves using a bandsaw, jigsaw or scrollsaw.


Next, cut two shelves 4" long on the mitre saw. For accuracy, try using a stop block clamped to the fence or stack your two pieces so they end up being identical, which is always critical in any kind of shelving.

Take the back piece, flip it over and drill three #8 countersunk holes on the back down each side at approximately 1½", 6" and 10" up from the bottom, and 3⁄8" in from the outside edges. These accept screws that join the two sides to the back later. You’ll also want to drill a 1⁄8"-diameter hole 1" down from the top and all the way through the wood, so you can hang the sconce on a wall with a finishing nail.

To attach the wooden candle holder, find the centre point of your upper shelf and mark it. Just draw a faint pencil line from each diagonal corner; the place where the lines intersect is the centre. The ready-made holder (, 1011-0157M) comes with a predrilled centre hole that will accept a #8 x 11⁄4" wood screw to secure it to the top of your upper shelf.

Putting it together

Now, it’s assembly time. Draw a line on the inside of each side piece, 3" from the bottom. Since these lines mark the location of the upper shelf, they need to be square. Next, lay the sides on their back edges and position your two shelves in between. The lower shelf should be flush with the bottom of the sides so the sconce can stand if you don’t hang it. The bottom edge of the upper shelf sits on the 3" pencil marks. Clamp everything in place so you can attach the shelves to the sides using a brad nailer or hammer-driven finishing nails.

Once you have these four pieces fastened, lay the assembly face down and position the back piece on top. A temporary support block, about 21⁄2" high at the curved top end, proves helpful. Drive six 1¼" screws to attach the back, flip the project over and you are done.

You can finish this sconce to your liking, perhaps using a water-based stain or even milk paint. Since there are only six parts, consider applying the finish to all the pieces before assembly for an easier, cleaner job. Now, you’re ready to put in a candle and enjoy the warm glow from your new project.

Tools & Materials

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

Back pine 3/4" x 5 1/2" x 16" 1
Sides pine 3/4" x 2 1/2" x 11" 2
Shelves pine 3/4" x 2 1/2" x 4" 2
Candle holder hardwood 7/8"-dia. hole x 1 9/16" tall 1

* Length indicates grain direction

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Simple candle holder

Illustration by Len Churchill

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