CNC Woodworking Candle Holders, FIVE TIMES, out of FIVE types of Wood (on Carvey CNC Router)

Oftentimes the difference between a project looking good, and a project looking great comes down to material choice. It’s a make-or-break element of every build. I love CNC woodworking, so to demonstrate this I made a simple design for a pillar candle holder for one of the CNC Routers in the Makerspace (our Carvey CNC Router by Inventables). I ran an identical carve on 5 different materials: birch plywood, walnut plywood, red oak, a glue up with maple, bubinga, and wedge, and a resin and walnut block

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For this project, I used a simplistic CNC design to make candle holders five different ways by just slightly changing our materials. Check out the step-by-step below.

First, I squared off a chunk of maple on the bandsaw and then split it into sections to make up the bulk of the first glue-up. 

Next, to add color, I grabbed a thin panel of bubinga. It happened to be the same width as the maple, which made it easy to cut into strips and slip into place. It looked pretty good as-is, but I thought I’d add another color and cut some strips of wenge to layer into the glue-up. Then, I lined my surface with wax paper.

I lined my strips up in the order that I wanted them, and then started applying a liberal coat of Titebond III to the top of each strip using a foam brush. I stacked everything together and used clamps to hold it in place. While allowing the first glue-up to dry, I cut a range of materials down to size including plain plywood, walnut plywood, red oak, and an end cut from a resin river table.

The next step was to put together the design for the CNC router. I used Easel to create a square with a circle inside for the candle to rest in; Like I said this is a really simple design. 

Before getting the CNC router loaded up and ready, I made sure I had my settings in properly for my first block. I ended up putting a 60-degree V-bit on to add a bevel to the interior and exterior of the block. Then I started running the other blocks through the machine. I went ahead and loaded the original glue-up into the machine and started that carve. To save the time it would take to switch bits, I started it off with a V-bit carve first.

It was pretty smooth sailing from here with the CNC router. I cycled my five wood blocks on the machine and enjoyed watching the pieces take shape. 

Something of note here in regards to the outer edge is that Instead of carving all the way down the wood, I had the CNC router go only halfway. Once the machine etches the perfect square, it’s a lot faster to handle the rest of the cut with the bandsaw. 

Next I hit the edges of each piece with the belt sander, just to get as seamless an edge as possible, and then finished everything off with a quick hand sand. 

To finish these, I just dipped them in mineral oil. Popping each candle holder in oil was an exciting last step in seeing their colors come to life.

After letting the candle holders dry overnight, the project was complete!  All in all, I think that this project was a success. We had five different pieces, all done with a very simplistic CNC file, and they all looked very different from each other. 

From simplest to most impressive, there was the basic stacked plywood, the solid oak, the walnut plywood with veneer on the sides, the patterned block, and the resin cutoff block. I found the last two in particular very striking and interesting!

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