Weekend Projects – Trio of candleholders

Monday 9 July 2018

For this project I wanted to make a group of candleholders turned of the same form in descending heights to produce a visually attractive group, which is perfect for a dining table centrepiece. With the addition of colour, in this case a Chestnut black Ebonising Spray to contrast the ash (Fraxinus excelsior) a further dimension is explored by including a colourful element. For the project I have used seasoned ash from 100mm stock for the large candleholder and 75mm square stock for the smaller candleholders. The blanks were cut down on the bandsaw to 10mm oversize to enable the exact external diameter to be obtained. For the three candleholders in this project the ascending heights are: 300mm; 250mm; and 200mm. As the candleholders descend in height the top and base diameters are reduced by 10mm, respectively. Due to the diameter ratio of a standard sized household candle the sizes cannot be reduced through the height and diameter proportionally, as the piece will appear out of proportion in relation to the diameter of the candle. When making the candleholders leave 50mm over length for the material to accommodate the chuck jaws and parting off during the last turning process.

Tools used:

6mm parting tool

32mm spindle roughing gouge

12mm skew chisel

9mm spindle gouge

3mm parting tool


Mark the centres of the blank and place between centres. Rough down to the round using the 32mm spindle roughing gouge with the lathe speed around 500rpm


Using a 6mm parting tool true up both ends of the blank


Using a rule and pencil mark the length of the project, taking the measurement from the tailstock end. Mark the point where the ebonised section will start, this being one-third of the height up from the base


Using the 6mm parting tool and callipers part down on the marked lines the top diameter, the base diameter and half way into the smallest diameter – this being the line that the ebonised section will start. Now produce a spigot at the headstock end to fit your chuck jaws. There should be some waste material between the chuck and the base of the project to give clearance for parting off later


Tighten the blank in the chuck while bringing up the running centre and make sure it is running true. Using a 9mm spindle gouge produce a concave face turning in to a safe distance from the running centre


Use a Forstner bit in a Jacobs chuck to drill out a hole to suit the metal candle insert. I used a standard 25mm metal candle insert which was purchased from my local turning supplier. I also used a brass colour insert to complement the colour of the ash and to contrast with the black ebonised areas


Bring the tailcentre up to support the project – it may be that the hole is larger than the diameter of the centre. If so, make a bung out of waste wood to fit the hole and the front of the centre. Use the 32mm spindle roughing gouge to produce the external profile, working from either end down towards the smallest diameter. I used the spindle roughing gouge for this due to its large radius, which makes the flow of the gradual curve easier to obtain than a smaller tool in the initial stages. Or, you can use a smaller spindle gouge. On nearing the previous parted depth at the start of the ebonised section use the 6mm parting tool and callipers to part to depth. Continue with the spindle roughing gouge until the profile is produced to the previously parted diameters and the external profile is to size


Finish the profile with the 9mm spindle gouge to get rid of any ridges left by the spindle roughing gouge


Finish the profile with abrasive from 120-400 grit. Remove the centre to finish the front face after the main body of the candleholder has been finished


Using a pencil mark the start and finish of the area to be ebonised. Use the toe of a 12mm skew chisel to define these lines with small 'V' grooves of around 0.5mm deep – this will aid later with defining the area during spraying


Seal the project with Chestnut Cellulose Sanding Sealer


Use masking tape to cover all but the section to be ebonised. Line up the masking tape to overlap half of the 'V' grooves and run a fingernail inside the groove to make sure the tape is well stuck. Protect your lathe from over-spray. Spray the project with Chestnut Ebonising Lacquer – use several fine coats and allow to dry between each coat until you have good coverage. Rotate the project by hand as you do this


Remove the masking tape/paper and redefine the 'V' grooves with the toe of a 12mm skew chisel. This will clean up any ebonising lacquer that has gone over the line


Finish on the lathe with Chestnut Satin Acrylic Lacquer. Again, use several fine coats and cut back once dry before applying the last coat with 600 grit abrasive. Do this by hand, if required, until you are happy with the finish you have achieved


Repeat the process another two times taking into account the sizes on the drawing for the other candleholders


Here are the finished trio of candleholders. They can now be placed on a dining table as an attractive centrepiece, or in a place of your choosing