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DIY Wood Candle Holder

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Rustic white wood candle holders made from a 4x4 fence post with string and white hearts and beads.

In this DIY wood candle holder tutorial, I’ll show you how to turn a 4×4 fence post into a white chippy paint candle holder with optional heart-themed embellishments. Of course, how they’re finished is up to you and depends on the look you’re after.

Hi, and welcome! I’m Lisa from The Old Tree Cottage. Using old wood in a project is something I love to do. But sometimes there just isn’t old wood available that has the chippy paint on it. There are many ways to get that look, but I’ll show you my favourite way. If you don’t have time to do the tutorial now, you can always save it to your Pinterest board for later.


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1. Cut 4×4 posts & drill the hole for the tealight

For this DIY wood candle holder project, I like to cut them into sets of three at various heights. My rule of thumb is a 1″ difference between one height and the next. That being said, do what looks right to you. There is a difference in sizes between the common tealight candles with the tin base and the ones with the hard plastic. If you’re making these for sale or gifts, I recommend using the 2″ Forstener drill bit because both sizes will fit.

  1. Cut the wood to 3, 4 & 5 inches long.
  2. Mark an X on the top of each wood block to find the center. (see photo above.)
  3. I use a drill press for this, but you could also use a regular drill. Either way, put it in a vice before you drill.
  4. Sand the top edges of the wood as well as the drilled area to remove the sharp edges.

2. Black paint wash & apply a stain blocker to the wood

In order to make the fresh cuts look old as well as the wood, I use black water wash all over the wood. Typically I’ll add 2 tsp of any type of black paint to 1 cup of water and mix well. It’s important to note that when using white paint on wood, adding two coats of sealer is always a good habit. Why a seal coat? Because it stops the tannins in the wood from bleeding through and discolouring the paint down the road. In the photo (below right), the wood bled through right away because the wood I used for the candle holders was cedar, which has many tannins. I had only added one coat of Lacquer, so in order to stop the wood from bleeding through again, I applied two more coats of Lacquer before painting.

  1. Paint the wood with the black water wash and let dry.
  2. Spray two (or, in my case, three because the wood was cedar) coats of Lacquer or a stain blocker on raw wood. Dry in between coats.
  3. Rub a candle over the edges on the sides and top in order to make it easier to distress the paint in the next step.

3. Paint & distress the candle holder

  • Apply a thick coat of paint over the wood block candle holder.
  • Use a heat gun to bubble the paint all over. Let dry.
  • Hand-sand using anywhere from 80-100 grit for light distressing or an orbital sander for a more distressed look.

4. Add a decorative element to finish the candle holder

The holes in my wooden beads were too small for this project, so I placed one between pliers and drilled a bigger hole using a 1/8″ drill bit. The secret to this as well as drilling the hearts, is to go slowly without too much pressure. Also, I painted the heart and bead after it was on because I had changed my mind about leaving it natural. If you prefer, paint the bead and heart before adding the string.

  1. Cut 54″ of twine for each wood post candle holder.
  2. To reduce the chances of the wood splitting, place the wood heart on a block of wood and then drill a hole using a 1/8″ drill bit.
  3. If the holes in the wooden bead are too small, drill a bigger hole using a 1/8″ drill bit. (see photo above right)
  4. Add the heart and bead to the string. (see above photo)
  5. You can copy how I wrapped the twine if you like, or do something different.

5. Finishing touches

Originally I wanted to leave the heart and twine natural, but I was disappointed in the look. Instead, I decided to go with a painted look, so I painted them when they were already on the candle holder. Feel free to do this step in whatever order works best for you.

  1. Paint the bead, heart and twine but don’t worry about getting full paint coverage on the twine.
  2. Lastly, lightly blend any paint that got on the wood.
And that, my friend, concludes the DIY wood candle holder tutorial!

If you’re looking for another project, check out more tutorials here.

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