The large candles my wife and I buy for holiday decorations are usually plain round cylinders, about 3″ in diameter and up to 12″ tall. They’re nice candles, but I wanted something a bit more unique, so I tried turning them on my lathe.
Obviously, candles aren’t designed for turning. A spur drive will crack the wax and friction from a cup center will melt it. My solution is to turn wooden cups to protect the candle’s ends. The cups must be sized properly, have a flat bottomed, shallow recess and narrow rim. Adding double-faced tape between the candle and the headstock cup prevents slippage during the turning operation.
I run my lathe at its slowest speed and use the turning tools in a scraping fashion. Once the shape is formed I polish the candle with a piece of silk or nylon while it’s still on the lathe. The key to success is a simple design.
– Dick Dorn