As I’ve mentioned before, we make our Christmas gifts in my family. It usually keeps the price down and adds a sentimental value to the offerings. This year, I made homemade wood block votives. Anyone who has access to a table saw, a miter saw, and a drill can do this project.
I originally wanted to make the votives with rough-cut * 4″ x 4″ x 8′ cedar, but my table saw couldn’t manage lumber of that size. So I downgraded to using 2″ x 4″ x 8′ lengths of wood. I used cedar because it makes a great indoor/outdoor wood and isn’t pressure-treated like so much pine.
All you have to do is angle your table saw to 25° and taper both sides of the wood. Next, use a miter saw to cut the cedar into 23″ lengths. That’ll give you 12 wood blocks with a little left over for the fire pit. Then angle your miter saw to 25° and taper the ends to mirror the sides.
Make a template that’s the same length and width as the votives. Draw a line bisecting the template. Use a ruler and a carpenter’s square to measure and mark 2″ of free space, then 1½” for a hole, then 2″ of free space, then 1½” for a hole, and so on until you have 7 spaces and 6 holes in all. Drill pilot holes in the template and use it to mark the holes for each votive.
Use a 1½” spade bit to drill the holes for the tea candles. Mark the proper depth on the drill bit with some tape and try to be consistently plumb. When all of the holes are drilled, sand all of the wood block votives with sandpaper. I sanded them all with a 60-grit sanding block, then did them all again with 220-grit.
You don’t have to stain the wood, but I felt like the color would hide some of the imperfections (which it did). I used Rustoleum’s Kona-colored stain. After the stain dried, I applied an even layer of satin-finish polyurethane (poly). When that dried, I sanded it with 320-grit sandpaper and applied another coat of poly. That gave it a nice gloss and a smooth feel.
I ordered some tea candles from Amazon, dropped them in the holes, stuck four felt pads on the bottom of each votive, and the wife wrapped them up. I remembered to brand them.
- 3 @ 2″ x 4″ x 8′ lengths of cedar: $15
- 1 @ 1½” spade bit: $7
- 3 @ 60/220/320-grit sandpaper: $15
- ½ pint stain: $5
- ½ pint poly $5
- 100 tea candles: $11
- brown, felt pads: $3
Total: $61/12 = $5.08 per wood block tea candle votive
Not bad for a project that doesn’t take much time or effort, but results in quality gifts. And if you already have the drill bit, sandpaper, and stain/poly, then the price drops to a little over $2 per unit. It’s hard to beat that deal.
Here are some of our other homemade Christmas gifts:
- Homemade Christmas Gifts, 2011
- DIY Hanging Chalkboards
- DIY Book Safe
- DIY Barbecue Spice Rub Jars
- DIY NC-Style Barbecue Sauce
- DIY Wine Bottle Holders
- Rocking Chair Footrests
* “=inch, ‘=feet