DIYdiy projects

diy project: sconce glass centerpiece

by Kate Pruitt

we have an abundance of useless sconces in our apartment. they are a pain in the neck to turn on and they provide illumination for about six inches of a small hallway leading to our back door, but the kicker: they’re ugly. in fact, if i hadn’t been walking through my local salvage yard and spotted a large display of interesting and beautiful sconce glass replacements, i would have gone on hating traditional sconces forever. it turns out the glass shades are quite beautiful and interesting when they aren’t sitting in a decrepit brass base. i decided to snag a bunch of different styles and play mix and match; the result is this rustic wood votive centerpiece. these glass shades are relatively inexpensive to buy new, and they are dirt cheap if you find them at a thrift store or salvage yard. since they have standard sizes for their bases, you only need one simple drill attachment. i know summer is winding down, but this rugged centerpiece can help you take your outdoor gatherings all the way through fall, provided you wear some extra layers. have fun!  –kate

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


– sconce glass shades (mine have a 1 1/2″ fitter base)
– 3 tea lights or other small candles
– piece of wood (at least 22″ long and 1″ thick, preferably about 4-6″ thick)
– drill
– 1 5/8″ paddle bit (also known as a boring bit )
– hand saw or chop saw (or have your local hardware store/lumber yard cut the piece for you)
– sand paper
– tape measure
– wood stain, water sealant, paintbrush, and rag (optional: for staining and protecting wood)


1. Clean and dry all sconce glass pieces.

2. Lay them out on your wood and eye the configuration. When you are happy with the layout, mark on the wood where to cut off any extra if needed. Cut wood down to the desired length (mine is 22″).

3. Use a tape measure to mark where the center of the three sconce pieces should go. I centered the sconces in the middle of the depth of the wood, and spaced them evenly along the length. The marks I made were at 5″, 11″, and 17″, but it will depend on the shape of your glass.

4. You can also eyeball it by putting the glass pieces where you want them to sit, then use a pencil to trace the inside circle of the base.

5. Insert the boring bit into the drill and drill a hole in the center of your marks. The bit will chip away the wood little by little, so you may have to stop drilling to clean out the sawdust and keep going. Be patient. Drill three 1 5/8″ holes that are about 1/2″ deep. Remove any loose sawdust and sand the holes until they are clean.

6. Fit your glass pieces into the holes to check. The bases should sit into the holes you created to prevent them from moving around.

7. Stain wood using a brush and rag, in a well ventilated area. Let the wood dry completely, then add a protective coat of water sealant if you want to make the piece more durable. Let dry.

8. Replace your glass pieces into their holes, and place a tealight in each piece. Use a long lighter or long match to light candles.


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