just a smidgen

DIY Birch Hearthside Tealight Votive

Birch Log Candle E

Maybe it was the thrill of operating a digger and dozer in Vegas,
or wearing a real hard hat.

I was definitely inspired by those DIY birch bark covered candles I made before Thanksgiving.

Perhaps it was the sugar high after enjoying a slice of Lumberjack Kit Kat Cake..

or the Christmas decor that has begun popping up in shops.

Did you know that most Canadians have begun Christmas shopping already?
{ not me }

Whatever the reason, I felt the urge to go all “Construction Worker” and whip out some power tools!

DIY Birch Hearthside Tealight Votive cg2

Birch Log Candle 2

I resisted the urge to purchase construction boots, but they would have made a nice prop for my photos, not to mention the wee bit of safety would have been a handy feature. I quickly realized there was no a need to buy safety glasses, after all, if one wears glasses that should be good enough for such a small project { not }.

I charged up my power screwdriver and my drill, since I wasn’t certain which I would require. Feeling much more confident with my electric screwdriver, I headed to Rona Hardware to pick up the bit I would need to drill a tea light-sized hole in my birch log. I praise the young man who assisted me, when I whipped out the miniature tea light candle and explained that I needed to drill a hole, deep enough to “sink” the candle into the log, he didn’t laugh once. Not even when we had to measure the candle’s diameter, nope, not even a grin.

Birch Log Candle 1

We settled on this piece that has a pointed center and angled jagged teeth clawing in a circle around the edge. I think the bit was called a Forstner Wood Drill Bit.. but if you make this Votive, you should take your tool into your hardware store and make sure you buy the right bit to fit your tool. I popped that bit into my pink purse and smartly drove home.

Things got off to a pleasant enough start, the “thingy” bit fit into my screwdriver and I only needed to hand tighten it. Then I laid out some newspaper for the shavings and planted both feet on either end of the log. I might mention, it’s helpful to make sure you have a log that is cut in half so that it will lay flat on the newspaper without wobbling back and forth.

Several ambitious, lip biting moments later, I stuck that “thingy” bit into the wood and pressed the “trigger”. A multitude and amplitude of spinning took place but only meager amounts of shavings trickled out. I began to sweat, this was a much bigger project than I had imagined. I thought maybe I should just take it to my dad, who would have taken out a pencil, ruler, balance and measured everything for accuracy. Then I thought, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. And I thought, never give up. And you can do it, Smidge!

Birch Log candle

Five minutes and one dead battery later, I removed the bit and discovered that that little thing had gotten really, really hot. Yup, a real life lesson on friction for Smidge that day. Then I noticed wee bits of thick clear “stuff” peeling off and quickly deduced that the “bit” had been coated with a plastic protective covering that was to have been removed before one began drilling. Hmmm.. things would go much smoother now, I thought.

Birch Log Candle4

Battery recharged and off we, er, I went (I was feeling quite attached to the log by now)… drilling and drilling. Then I found a chair and kept drilling and drilling. I wondered what had made me think I needed Three holes in the first place, still drilling and drilling. I remarked out loud (too myself) about the lovely weather we were having. Then I began noticing all these cute little birds zipping back and forth around me, I deduced that the drill noise must be a Bird Whistler of some sort. It was time for a break anyway, so I found my camera and snapped a few photos of my new curious friends.

Bird 3

Bird 6

Birds 4

It would seem I had an audience of sorts..


Out of sheer exhaustion and after using only one foot upon which the log unceremoniously and dangerously spun around, I decided it was time to get out The Big Deal Drill. It was a much heavier tool that my dad had given to us one Christmas, just like the power screwdriver the Christmas before. My Dad likes to do that sort of thing, buy us tools that he’s certain will come in handy around the house. Not to disappoint, but I’ve got to be the most “unhandy” person I know. Well, I do know one other person…

Birch Log Candle 5

With the rechargeable battery snapped in place, it felt like a weapon in my hands. This was my first time using a drill and I was quite nervous as I reflected that I should have attached this log to a workbench with some sort of clamp. But I began drilling again quite tentatively. Again, no luck and very little depth was acquired.. in fact no depth at all! I examined the Big Deal and discovered that it has this button that turns the drill in the reverse direction. I had been drilling backwards the entire time. I firmly snapped that button to clockwise and began drilling with great zeal. I was becoming a natural at this by now { after several hours } but nonetheless, a natural! I discovered if you press too hard or tip the drill, it makes this loud buzzing noise, but if you don’t press enough, the hole won’t get routed out. Go figure.. The Big Deal has a sweet spot.

Needless to say, this was so much trickier than I thought. It’s like the first time icing a cake or using a pasta machine, it gets easier with practice.

Or, you could just ask your Dad..

Birch Hearthside Tealight Votive

DIY Birch Hearthside Tealight Votive


1/2 birch log, stable when laying flat

3 votive candles, battery operated

1 drill

1 bit

1 C-Clamp


safety glasses


1. Insert the bit into your drill and tighten firmly. Ensure your drill is spinning clockwise so that it will “dig” into your log.

2. If you wish, measure the spots you’d like to have your candles placed.

3. Attach your log to a workbench with a clamp. Put on your safety glasses.

4. Pre mark the placement of your tealights if you wish.

5. Gently press the top of the drill bit vertically into the center of the log and drill.

6. Occasionally stop and shake out the sawdust.

7. Continue drilling all three holes until the tealight candle will insert into each hole level with the log.

I thought it was well worth the effort and can’t wait to light… er turn it on! Safety first!

Birch Log Candle A

 This piece will take center stage in my Christmas decorating..

Birch Log Candle G


Love, Smidge

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