This is a very special post…most of the pictures were taken by my absolute favorite 9-year old DIYer…my son! Taking pictures is my least favorite part of doing my DIY projects so it was great to have an assitant for this project. Thanks Kiddo!
I did not realize it but we have a literal gold mine in our backyard. Every fall, my husband spends a day cutting down dead or dying white birch in our back yard. A couple years ago, we cut down a ton, and some real monsters too. In an effort to save ourselves the work of hauling the wood away, I put an ad on Craigslist and I could not believe the response. Within a couple hours of posting the ad, I had people clamoring to come get the wood. It worked out great for us because all the wood was gone within a day or two with no heavy lifting from us.
This year when my husband announced he was cutting more birch down, I decided there must be some crafty way to use some of it. A quick Google image search yielded a treasure trove of ideas. With Thankgsgiving approaching, I settled on white birch candle holders. My little sis usually hosts our family and we decided they would be a perfect addition to her rustic tablescape.
This was a super quick, super cheap little DIY project. It took about an hour and cost me nothing more than the cost of candles and a spade bit (about $7 at Home Depot). I’ve noticed that White Birch (faux or real) candles and candle holders are quite popular the last few years. I’ve seen them at Pottery Barn, Target, Michaels, and Home Goods. When my daughter and I were cruising the aisles of Michaels recently, we noticed they had white birch log sections that would be ideal for making tea light candle holders. They were about 3 inches in diameter and 6 inches tall. The price was $12.99! Even with a 40% off coupon that is a pretty penny to pay for a chunk of wood. With this project, I was able to make about 20 candle holders for less than $20.
So, after my husband cut down the trees, I chose the pieces I thought were about the right diameter, about 3 inches in diameter. I cut random lengths on my miter saw, trying to get the ends as square as possible. I left 3 of the logs a little longer. These longer lengths I used as taper holders and they would lay horizontal. The others I cut at shorter lengths, to stand up and hold tea lights.
Once the logs were cut to the lengths I wanted, I used a spade bit to drill holes to fit the candles. I used a 1″ spade bit for the taper candles and a 1 1/2″ spade bit for the tealights. It is important to hold your drill straight up and down. Just do the best you can with this. A drill press would have worked awesome for this but since most people don’t have one of those laying around, just eyeball it. I also found that my cordless drill had a tough time making the 1 1/2″ holes for the tea lights. It could do the job, but it was taking a long time for each hole because I had to keep backing the spade bit out. I switched to my impact driver and it did the job lickety-split.
The last bit of work was sanding the ends of all the logs. I used my orbital sander.
After the ends were sanded, my assistant dropped a tea light into each one and I finished them by tying jute twine around the groups of three logs. The kids added some mum and burning bush cuttings to get them ready to take to Grandma and their Aunts.
A note of caution when displaying these candles: the green wood is still quite moist. I would advise displaying these candles on a plate or some other surface where the moisture won’t matter. Definitely do NOT put the candles directly on a wood table top. I’ve seen other bloggers recommend using plastic wrap under the candles. It blocks the moisture and is near invisible. I haven’t tried that trick yet, but I might.
- White birch
- Miter Saw
- Drill (or impact driver if you are impatient like me!)
- Spade Bits (1 ” for taper candles, 1 1/2 ” for tea lights)
- less than $20 for the spade bit and candles