Festive Silhouettes Illuminate Your Home

issues-ssw33-Candle-Silo-LeadColored acrylic lends a soft glow to simple fretwork designs

By Paul Meisel

Menorah and Star of David designs cut by Ben Fink

Brighten up the holidays with these colorful votive holders. Dancing candlelight shines through the transparent colored acrylic to illuminate the fretwork design.

Patterns are provided for both Christian and Jewish symbols. The silhouettes are cut from 1/4″-thick wood, so it’s easy to stack cut them to speed up production.

Each project consists of three parts: a base that holds the candle cup, a front piece with the fretwork silhouette, and the colored acrylic backer used to diffuse the light.

Step 1: Cut the front pieces. Attach a photocopy of the pattern to the stock. Drill blade-entry holes with a 1/16″-diameter drill bit. Cut the fretwork. Then cut around the perimeter. I use an Olson #446-R blade, but you can use your #5 reverse-tooth blade of choice.

Step 2: Paint the front pieces. Paint or stain the front pieces as desired. I apply white latex primer followed by a coat of white acrylic latex paint.

Step 3: Cut the acrylic backer. Attach the pattern to the acrylic. You will only be cutting along the red line. Set your saw to a medium speed and use a #5 reverse-tooth blade, such as an Olson #446-R blade. Clear packaging tape over the pattern will help lubricate the blade and deter the acrylic from melting as it is being cut.

Step 4: Cut and shape the base. I make several bases at once. Start with a piece of 3/4″ by 41/2″ by 36″ pine. Cut a 3/8″ by 3/8″ dado 5/8″ in from one edge. Use a table saw or a router with a 3/8″-diameter bit. Cut the bases to the proper length. Tilt the table-saw blade to 45° or use a 45° chamfer bit in a router to chamfer the edges of the base.

Step 5: Finish the base. Use a 7/8″-diameter Forstner bit to drill the 5/8″-deep hole for the votive candle cup. Sand the base and apply a coat of sanding sealer. Lightly sand it again and apply a coat of polyurethane.

Step 6: Assembling the project. Position a piece of acrylic behind the fretwork front and slide the two pieces into the dado in the base. Do not glue the pieces into the groove. The project is designed to be disassembled for storage after the holidays. Cut an assortment of colors for the acrylic backing and try placing different colors behind each silhouette. The silhouettes and colored acrylic are interchangeable. Insert the glass votive in the hole on the base and add a votive candle of your choice.


• Glass votive candle cup (#3110)*
• Colored acrylic plastic set (#9989)*
• 3/4″ x 41/2″ x 41/2″ pine (per base)
• 1/4″ x 33/4″ x 61/8″ plywood or wood of choice (per silhouette)
• Assorted sandpaper up to 220 grit
• White latex primer and paint
• Sanding sealer
• Polyurethane

• Table saw (optional)
• Miter saw (optional)
• Router with 3/8″-diameter straight bit and chamfer bit (optional)
• #5 reverse-tooth blades such as Olson #446-R* or blades of choice
• Drill press with 1/16″-diameter bit
• Propane torch (see TIP)
• 7/8″-diameter Forstner bit (#30633)*
• Paintbrushes


Click below to download the Festive Silhouettes Patterns:
Menorah and Star of David


Read more great articles in Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts Holiday 2008 (Issue 33) here.