DIY Tea Light Centerpiece with Feet

This simple tutorial shows you how to make a beautiful wooden tea light centerpiece with dovetailed feet. Easy and elegant for any tablescape.

DIY wood tea light centerpiece on a table

Looking for a warm, inviting centerpiece that complements any table? Look no further! In this beginner-friendly tutorial, I’ll show you how to make a wooden tea light candle holder with charming dovetailed feet. It’s surprisingly easy to create, adding a touch of sophistication to your next gathering.

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Inspiration for This Candle Holder Centerpiece

A thrift store find inspired this pedestal-style trivet project. Taking the design a step further, I transformed it into a footed centerpiece featuring three glass tea light holders that bring warmth and ambiance to any table. Functional and elegant, it’s perfect for dining rooms, coffee tables, or wedding tablescapes.

Wooden handmade tea light candle holder on a table

What Wood Should You Use?

The project that inspired this centerpiece was made from 5/4 pine (spoken as five-quarter), which I had left over from another build. While this thickness is common around here, I’ve heard from do-it-yourselfers that it can be trickier to find in other areas. Don’t worry; you can easily adapt this project for almost any thickness and wood type you have.

Related: Beginner’s Guide to Wood Sizes

Want to take your candle holder to the next level? Use rich hardwoods like oak or walnut to increase the visual impact. Or, create a striking contrast by using different wood species for the top and feet, making the dovetail joint the star of the show.

Close up of a DIY tea light centerpiece's dovetailed foot

What Tools Do You Need?

I used three tools to make my tea light centerpiece:

  • Miter saw: I used my miter saw to cut the candle holder’s parts to length.
  • Router table: I used my router table and a dovetail bit to make the dovetail joint.
  • Drill press: I used my drill press and a Forstner bit to make a recess for the candle holders.
DIY centerpiece with three tea light candle holders

What Candles Should You Use?

For safety, I suggest only using flameless LED candles in this holder. Real candles are a fire risk and I recommend avoiding them.


How to Make a DIY Tea Light Centerpiece with Feet

Printed Plan

Get the PDF plan here (includes detailed instructions, measurements, and bonus tips)

Materials

Tools

  • Tape Measure
  • Miter Saw
  • Drill Press (I used this one)
  • Router Table
  • Dovetail Bit (ensure the shank size is compatible with your router’s collet before buying a bit.)
  • Grr-Ripper
  • 1-⅞” Forstner Bit

Step 1. Cut the Parts

Aiming for a consistent grain pattern, I used my miter saw to cut the centerpiece’s top and feet from a single board, but once I assembled the project, I wondered if contrasting them would have added more visual interest.

The small size of the feet presents a potential challenge for sanding after assembly. To address this, I used my random orbital sander to smooth the entire board before cutting it to size.

Related: How to Sand DIY Wood Furniture (Faster, Easier & Better Results)

TIP: The feet are small, so I cut them first to avoid getting my hand close to the blade.


Step 2. Make the Feet

To make the foot’s tail that slides into the top’s socket, I installed a dovetail bit in my router table.

Related: How to Use a Router Table for Beginners.

Then, I used my Kreg Multi-Mark to set the bit’s height

Setting the height of a dovetail router bit

Using my Kreg Multi-Mark, I made a mark for the joint’s shoulder.

Marking the shoulder for a dovetail joint

Next, I adjusted my router table’s fence so the bit’s cutting edge touched the pencil line.

Setting a router table's fence using a pencil line on a workpiece

The back edge is prone to chipping, so I recommend placing a piece of painter’s tape on the cutline. Alternatively, you can support the workpiece with a sacrificial board.

Applying painter's tape to the end of a workpiece to prevent tearout

Using my Grr-Ripper, I guided the workpiece through the bit, maintaining a slow pace, letting the bit do its job, particularly as it exited the material, to minimize the risk of tearout.

Using a pushblock to guide a workpiece on a route table

I was pleased with the result, so I repeated these steps for the remaining edge and second foot.

Looking at the edge of a dovetail joint

Step 3. Make the Top

The socket sets in from the edge. I set my Kreg Multi-Mark to this measurement and made a mark on the top.

Using a pencil to mark a measurement on a workpiece

Remember those test pieces I mentioned in Step 1? They come in especially handy here because you’ll need to test-fit the feet into the socket. I regret only making one top practice piece, so I only had one chance to adjust the socket’s second cut. To avoid this, I highly recommend making at least three or four test pieces. This gives you more opportunities to fine-tune the socket, ensuring a perfect fit.

I adjusted my router table’s fence so the bit’s cutting edge touched the pencil line.

Positioning a workpiece's pencil line next to a dovetail router bit

I took a double precaution to minimize the risk of tearout on the back edge. I applied painter’s tape along the cut line and used a sacrificial board for additional support. While this approach might be redundant, it prioritizes a clean cut.

TIP: I made this cut on my test pieces and my project’s top.

Guiding a workpiece across a router table with a pushblock

Next, on my test piece, I positioned the foot against the cut I just made and marked the other edge.

Marking a workpiece for the second cut of a dovetail joint

Learning as I went, I initially placed the router bit too close to the pencil line, removing more material than intended. This serves as a reminder: removing more material is always easier than adding it back!

Positioning a workpiece for a second cut on a router table

Ideally, I should have positioned the bit further away from the line to remove less material. Then, I could have moved it toward the line if the foot fit too snugly.

I was aiming for a snug fit while still allowing some room for the glue.

  • Too loose: Move the bit toward the fence.
  • Too tight: Move the bit away from the fence.

Once the bit was adjusted, I cut the socket’s second side.

Using the diagram in the printed plan, I marked the locations for the candle holder recesses.

TIP: Measuring from both directions ensures the holes are centered from side to side.

Marking the location for candle holder recesses in a workpiece.

I used an awl to make a starting point for the drill bit.

Using an awl to make a starting point for a drill bit.

Aiming for ³/₁₆” deep holes, using my Kreg Multi-Mark, I transferred that measurement to a piece of scrap wood the same thickness as my centerpiece’s top.

Marking the candle holder recess depth on the side of a workpiece

I installed a Forstner bit in my drill press and placed the scrap wood beside it.

Related: What is a Forstner Bit? (& How to Use It)

With the drill off, I lowered the bit, aligning its cutting edge with the pencil mark, and adjusted the depth stop.

Setting the depth of a Forstner bit

I double-checked its function, ensuring it stopped when it touched the pencil line.

With the drill press still powered off, I lowered the bit, positioning its spur in the indentation I made with the awl.

Positioning a Forstner bit in a workpiece

Once in position, I clamped it to the drill press’s table.

Forstner bits work best at moderate pressure and speed. Going too fast or applying too much force can lead to overheating, resulting in a damaged bit.

Making a candle holder recess using a drill press

I repeated these steps for the remaining holes.


Step 4. Assemble the Centerpiece

The foot’s endgrain is prone to chipping, so I used a sanding block to slightly bevel its edges, reducing the risk of it tearing out when it’s moved on a table.

Beveling a tea light centerpiece's foot using a sanding block

I also used the sanding block to remove the top’s sharp edges.

Using a sanding block to remove the sharp edges from the top of a wooden candle holder

Using a small piece of sandpaper, I smoothed the candle holder recesses.

Smoothing candle holder recesses with sandpaper

Next, I used a brush to apply glue to the socket.

Applying glue using a brush

Then, I inserted the foot, which caused some of the glue to squeeze out. 

Inserting a tea light candle holder's foot into its socket

Woodworkers disagree on the best method for removing squeeze out. Some prefer a damp rag, but I’ve found that it pushes the glue deeper into the wood, preventing absorption if you plan to stain your project.

Instead, I prefer to wait for the glue to form a skin, usually about 20 to 30 minutes, then remove it with a putty knife.

Removing glue squeeze out with a putty knife.

I use sandpaper or my random orbital sander to remove any remaining glue residue.


Step 5. Finish the Centerpiece

I left my candle holder natural and applied three coats of Polycrylic for a classic look. You can choose any finish you like to complement your decor.

Related: How to Apply Polycrylic


Get Your Step-by-Step Plan

DIY tea light centerpiece with feet

Includes:

  • List of tools and materials
  • Complete measurements (in inches)
  • Easy-to-follow instructions
  • Step-by-step photos
  • Detailed diagrams

Get Your Plan Now!


Final Thoughts

With a few simple cuts and clever joinery, you can make a beautiful, functional centerpiece that will cast a warm glow on any occasion. The best part? This project is perfect for beginners, allowing you to showcase your woodworking skills (and impress your guests!) with minimal effort.  

Don’t wait. Get your PDF plan (including the detailed instructions and measurements) now!

Thank you for stopping by. If you enjoyed this tutorial, would you please take a moment and pin it to Pinterest? I’d really appreciate it!


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