Make a Metal Wall Sconce

Candles are a great addition to almost any outdoor space — their flickering light enhances the ambience, and in the case of citronella candles, their aroma can help to ward off insects. Although many styles and sizes of candle holders are commercially available, it’s more fun to design and make your own.

This wall-mounted candle sconce costs less than $20 in materials. And with only four parts, it can be welded together in a matter of minutes. You can modify the simple design to suit many different types of décor: Cut round holes instead of the square openings, make it shorter or longer, change the profile of the top, choose a different type of finish — if you can imagine it, you can probably make it. In fact, the design possibilities are so numerous, you might be tempted to make more than one.

Cutting and welding
Start by scribing the outline of the back plate onto a sheet of 16-gauge steel. (I used a 6-in.-wide x 18-in.-long sheet that’s readily available at many home-improvement and hardware stores to make the back plate). Use a jigsaw outfitted with a metal-cutting blade to cut along the scribed line (photo 1); then use an angle grinder to ease any sharp edges or points. In a similar manner, cut and smooth a 4-in.-square steel plate to serve as the candle base.

Use a carbide-tipped scribe to etch your design onto the steel. Clamp your workpiece securely to the welding table; then use a jigsaw (with a metal-cutting blade) to cut the profile.

Use a rotary tool outfitted with a metal-cutting wheel to create the four square decorative openings in the back plate (photo 2). Work slowly to avoid deforming the metal, and use a file to smooth the cut edges.

Use a rotary tool outfitted with a metal-cutting wheel to create the four decorative square openings. Make your cuts from the back side of the back plate, and use a file to smooth the cuts.

Clamp a length of 2-in.-wide, 16-gauge flat stock that will serve as the candle support bracket into a vise so that 4-1/2 in. of the stock are clamped within the vise jaws. Use a hammer and slowly bend the stock to 90 degrees (see drawing, in PDF below); then cut the short end to 1-1/2 in. (photo 3). Use some scrap lumber to help brace and position the support bracket so that it is 3 in. from the bottom edge of the back plate and centered from side to side, and weld it in position (photo 4). If you’re working with a wire-feed welder as I did, make sure to set both the wire-feed speed and the voltage to the appropriate settings for the metal you’re working with so you don’t inadvertently burn through the workpiece. If you’re unsure about either setting, practice on some scrap metal first.

Cut the candle support piece so that it is 4-1/2 in. long on one side of the 90-degree bend and 1-1/2 in. long on the other.

Locate the candle support so that it’s 3 in. from the bottom edge of the back plate and centered from side to side; then use a scrap of 2x4 as a brace to help position the rod as you weld it to the back plate.

Hold the square candle base in position centered on the support bracket and tack weld it in place (photo 5). Check to make sure that the base is level and then complete the weld. Cut a 3-in. length of 1/8-in.-dia. rod to serve as a candle support. Sharpen one end and weld the other end to the center of (and perpendicular to) the candle base (photo 6).

Weld the candle base to the candle support. Notice the scrap lumber that helps properly position the steel during the welding process.

Weld a 3-in.-long section of 1/8-in.-dia. rod that’s been sharpened on one end to the center of the candle base. This piece will stick into the candle and help hold it in place.

Finally, wipe the sconce with mineral spirits to remove any oils or residue and then paint it. I used Rust-Oleum’s Mineral Brown Stone Spray; you can choose from a wide variety of finishes, including hammered, antique, crackle and even mirrored, available from Rust-Oleum and other manufacturers. In fact, so many finishes and colors are available that choosing just one may be the hardest part of this project!