View Full Version : machining wax (as in a candle) - any ideas on feeds and speeds?

11-11-2009, 06:06 PM
My mom bought candle holders for the holidays (they look like water glasses to me) and she can't find candles to fit. The holders are about 2.5" ID, and the candles she finds all seem to either be about 2.7" or the skinny ones that are about 1". I told her it might be possible to just stick one of the 2.7" candles on the lathe and turn them down to about 2.4" and they will fit in the holders. The candles are about 6" long. I'm guessing this is possible, but before I end up with a melted mess of candles flying all over my shop, any advice on speeds and tooling to use?


andy b.

11-11-2009, 06:18 PM
I would guess a slower rpm with a heavier feed rate and a really sharp piece of HSS. Someone else can waste sometime figuring out the perfect speed and feed, but I would just go cut the damn thing and be done with it. make momma happy

11-11-2009, 06:23 PM
Had a friend who wanted to cut a thread.. 3 in OD 8tpi...

I let him practice on a candle (his first thread)

Just used a standard carbide formed cutter at 70 rpm...

HSS would work better, but the threads were perfect...

Nice finish and tool was set for the real job when he finished...

loose nut
11-11-2009, 06:39 PM
Carving them with a knife would be a lot easier.

11-11-2009, 07:25 PM
usally what I do for holders is just take the smaller candle, light it, pour a ton of molten wax in the bottom of the holder, then seat the candle into the molten wax and hold firm till it hardens

11-11-2009, 07:49 PM
Mount a piece of mdf on a faceplate, machine a cavity the diameter of the existing candle, use a live center in the tailstock pushing against a disc which holds the candle into the recess. Make the disc the desired diameter of the candle as a guide, then machine away.

11-11-2009, 08:21 PM
THANKS guys!!! A few good ideas so far. I think I'll try some of them and see what happens. I'll post back with my findings.

andy b.

11-11-2009, 09:45 PM
Boil some water. Put the base of the candle in the water until it is the right size.

11-11-2009, 11:31 PM

I've machined a few candles for various reasons. For what you describe I would use a medium speed (300-500 rpm) and a fairly high feed rate with a sharp HSS tool. You can take a fairly large depth of cut, but be careful, to deep and things will chip and/or grab. Another thing that helps with some operations (threading in my case) is to freeze the candle overnight then machine quickly.


11-12-2009, 06:49 AM
Threading candles...

I got a vision of FUTURE DAYS, when the electric grid is down and the chandelier must be lit with "screw in candles instead of bulbs"...

Hang in there.. I thought I could add some plastic-wax carving knowledge for lost-wax casting.. but oops.. jumped the wrong post. I'm going back to my corner now.

I had a heated solder iron, with a paddle for carving wax.. do the majority of the carving with it. then go to the dental instruments, picks, blades, polishers and alcohol lamp.

11-12-2009, 08:16 AM
I know, I could use heated knives, or regular knives, or tubs of hot water, etc.. I just wanted to give it a shot on the lathe. I am probably going to try later today, so I may have a good story later tonight. :)

andy b.

Alistair Hosie
11-12-2009, 12:14 PM
Do them on the lathe with a knurler first remove the knurling heads and superglue in an upper and lower denture bring them into contact with the wax then hey presto.Alistair

11-12-2009, 02:14 PM
Well since you want to use the lathe......Take a chunk of metal and bore a hole in it the diameter that you want the candle to end up being. Cut some drain holes/slots in the bottom of the bore.

Take your favorite method to heat up the block and then push the candle base in it and melt off the excess wax.