07 May 2014

DIY Copper Pipe Candelabra

You might remember a few weeks back, I shared my experience at the Home Depot 2014 Spring Preview. It was lovely, of course, and for those who attended the good folks at HD put together a little gift box of crafting items for all the bloggers to get their DIY on.

I had thought originally that we were all going to create our craft there at the party, kindergarten-style, but no. It was a take-home project. I was a smidge disappointed at the time but turns out it was just as well, considering what happened later on when I finally decided to take a crack at it.

Behold, the DIY Copper Pipe Candelabra!

Most of you know I'm not a very crafty person and even I found this easy to do, and oh-so-cute. There are a few tricks, but nothing you can't handle.

Want to make one for yourself? Here's how:

STEP ONE | The Box

It's unlikely that your materials will come in a cute little box like this, but if you have one that's similar (or care to pick one up at your local HD), it's a great place to store your crafting equipment. The "step" is basically to corral your supplies all in one place.

STEP TWO | The Tools

The materials you'll need to complete this project are the following:
  • 1 pair latex gloves
  • 1 canister of super glue (brand of your choice)
  • 8-20 pieces of 1/2" copper piping, cut into various lengths
    (Most HD stores sell 1/2" [and other sizes] copper piping in 8-foot lengths. Associates will cut the piping upon request, at a small price per cut, or you can do it at home if you have the tools. Be sure to cut a few pieces of roughly the same length - try to cut them in pairs, if you can. Just makes construction a little easier.)
  • 4-8 male "L" joints, 1/2" copper
  • 4-8 female "L" joints, 1/2" copper
  • 4-8 semi-"L" joints (45-degree angle), 1/2" copper
  • 2-4 "T" joints, 1/2" copper
  • 2-4 female ends, 1/2" copper
    (You only see one above, between the "T"s and the "L"s, which is just one reason why the "incident" occurred. More on that later.)
  • 1 sharpie marker
  • 2-4 white taper candles
STEP THREE | The Arrangement

This is the fun, creative part, when you get to fiddle around with your copper pieces to create a look you like. Use the "L" brackets to create a base then fit the "T"s in where you please. The "T"s form the base of the actual "abra" (arms) so depending on whether you want a one, two, three, four or more light candle holder will determine how many "T"s you need and how you fit them together with the base.

Fool around, experiment. Put it together and take it apart again until you settle on a shape and size that you feel like is perfect. Then move on to Step Four.

STEP FOUR | The Glue

Deconstruct your candelabra and carefully set aside each piece so you know which connects to what and where. It's a good idea at this stage to mark each piece with your Sharpie, so you know exactly how to put your candelabra together again, when it really counts (ie. when you've applied the glue.)

Put your gloves on and follow the instructions for opening your bottle of super glue. Working carefully and from the base up, apply glue to the interior of each piece into which another piece will be slotted.

This is important: If you apply glue to the outside of a piece that is going to be inserted into another piece, the fit is so snug between the copper that you'll only scrape the glue off the surface to create a glue-ring around the junction. Basically, you'll disfigure the joints of your candelabra and unless that kind of bubbly, uneven joint finish is what you're looking for, it's best avoided by lining the inside of each piece with glue rather than the outside.

Also, super glue is what super glue is: SUPER. You have roughly 0.3 seconds to insert and adjust each piece to the proper fit before the glue sets, and once it's done, it's DONE. You're stuck with it. Which is why it's important to mark your pieces and ensure you know where everything needs to go and with what.

ANTI-STEP | Because This.


This is the "incident" - I did NOT mark my pieces and assumed I had set them aside in the corresponding order in which they went together. Sadly, no.

I was able to complete the project with the pipe cuts I have leftover, but the snafu with the base plus the fact that I needed a second end, necessitated a quick trip to the Depot. I think I'm probably the only blogger alive whose free craft cost her $10.34 out of pocket.

ANTI-STEP | Do-Over!

Total do-over. But actually it worked out to my benefit, because I wound up liking this shape much better. So that's a silver lining, I guess.

STEP FIVE | Finishing Up

How you finish your copper pipe candelabra is up to you. In my case, I soaked off all the little white tags for a smooth finish (you could paint over them if you like, or you could remove them before you start gluing; chacun a son gout), then spray painted the whole thing with two thin coats of gold metallic paint. I wasn't going for full coverage but just enough to dull the bright copper colour, and to create a base for the paint I would apply by brush.

Once the spray paint had dried, I applied four light coats of Rust-Oleum's Metallic Accents "Gold" (the same paint I used on Steve.) There are several different shades of gold I've used in the living room, but my decorating philosophy is that as long as there are two or more pieces of every colour, it looks cohesive rather than random. I could be off my nut entirely, but hey. It's my living room.

I'm really super-pleased with the end result. It's cute but not obnoxiously so, simple and unique, and I made it with my own two hands. It's also got a cool industrial vibe that I like but the gold makes it glam (and fits right in with the rest of the room.) I'm actually considering doing another one (different shape, same colour) for the opposite side of the mantel!

How do you feel about a DIY copper pipe candelabra? Would you ever make one?

PS- That little piece of rock beside it? Is the petrified wood we brought home from Arizona. Gorgeous, isn't it?