Chuck Engstrom - Basic Candlestick Process - November 2015

Prepare suitable stock about 1-1/2" square, length of your choice with properly squared ends. Mark center of both ends.

Mount one end in chuck with corners between jaws, just barely snug. Set up 7/8" Forstner bit, marked for a 3/4" depth of cut, in a drill chuck in the tail stock, and center the tailstock end of your blank on the point of the Forstner. Now tighten the chuck, start the lathe at moderate speed, and bore your 7/8" hole to the 3/4" depth mark. Drill as many blanks as you plan to make before next steps.

Remove drill chuck from tailstock and replace with live center. Remove drilled blank from chuck, remove chuck from lathe, and insert 5/8" or 7/8" Steb-type drive in headstock Morse taper. Reverse the blank and fit the bored socket end over the Steb drive and bring up the live center.

With a roughing gouge reduce the square stock to round. At the tailstock end start making a 1/2 – 5/8" long tenon for mounting into the base, diameter less than 3/4" for now.

Shape your candlestick as desired, then sand, decorate (burned rings, etc). Stop the lathe and sand with the grain a bit before applying finish.

Refine your mounting tenon, and cut upward just a bit where the tenon meets the body to assure a no-gap fit on the base.

Cut 3/4" thick by about 5" square material for base, cut off corners at 45° if you wish. Use material with at least one good flat side for its bottom. Mark center of upper side, then spot-drill lightly with 1/2 – 5/8 – 3/4" brad-point or Forstner to about 1/8" depth. Do this to all multiples, then change to 3/16" drill bit and drill on through on the center just established.

Mount base blank with good flat bottom side on screw-chuck. Shape as desired, being sure to leave a good true flat (or slight concavity) at the center to assure a snug fit with the candle stick (try not to erase the spot-drilled mark for the tenon). Sand, again stopping to sand with the grain, and apply finish. Turn all candle stick multiples.

Take the base back to the drill press and drill almost through with your chosen Forstner or brad point, carefully lined up in the shallow hole made before turning. If you drill all the way through you'll end up with a dimple in the protective felt you're going to put on the bottom.

Now remount the candle stick and fine-tune your tenon for a nice fit into the socket of the base, testing as needed until you get it right. If you make it too small, you can glue on a strip of paper bag to fix it.

Glue in the tenon. Be careful to align grain as needed and to press it in fully for a snug fit into the base. Cut suitable size self-adhesive felt using an Exacto knife guided by the circle of a can bottom, wood, or such. This will give a better result than scissors. Or you could use smaller stick-on dots, which would leave room for your name, date, etc.

Candle Holder Tooling

Steb-type center to fit into candle holder socket:

Craft Supplies ( has the real original Robert Sorby Stebcenter , 7/8" size for $65.50, item number 104-625. They also have 1/2" and 1-1/4" sizes, same part number, slightly different prices. There's a Stebenter live center, 1/2" or 7/8", #104-634, but whatever you already have will do just fine. Their other choice for this is an "Apprentice" Crown Drive Center, same idea, 5/8" #2MT, for $19.95, item number 979-474, a little smaller but would work just fine. Packard and Penn State have similar choices.

Screw-type chuck for doing bases:

I bought my nice little #2MT screw chuck at a flea market. Closest thing to it I can find online is at called a Maxwood lathe screw chuck for $13.99. KMS is a Canadian vendor, and those are Canadian dollars, amounting to $10.49 US. 1-800-567-8979. At that price a group purchase might be worth doing.

Penn State Industries has similar items at similar prices, 3" screw-on with 1x8 thread, 3/4" long screw, #CF3SC for $16.95 or 4" with 1x8 thread, 1" screw, #CF4SC for $19.95. Or you can make your own, as I did, to fit into your chuck. Make up a suitable flat piece with a chuck tenon on it, chuck it up on its tenon, and drill 3/16" hole for a 1/4" blue screw. I had to put some epoxy on the screw threads to keep screw from trying to back out as I twisted the candle holder base blank on.

Candle holder metal inserts:

Http://, search for candle cup inserts. Very cheap at $0.07 ea. For 100. Thanks to Neal Kaske for finding this vendor.

Self-adhesive felt for bottoms:

Search for "superfelt." I bought 3-foot rolls for $7.99 plus shipping. Many sizes, colors, and lengths available.


  • Maximum candle size of.88 in x 7 in (2.24 em x 17.8 em).

  • Burn within sight Keep away from flammable materials. Keep away from children and pets.

  • Follow all candle manufacturer's instructions and safety warnings.

  • Allow to cool several minutes before touching or handling.

    • Burn on a stable, non-flammable, heat-resistant surface.