The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Candle Cover

I am always looking for new 3D versus 2D stained glass projects to build.

On the Internet, I saw a neat design by Ken Jorgenson.............He sells these for $80 each..........


Using the height of 3.25" from the picture, I drew up this 6-sided candle shelter in Sketchup.

Studying this design, I would want the center of the round jewel glass to be the same height as the top of the candle. I want to use battery operated candles, so I went on Amazon and found some 2 inch diameter by 2 inch tall battery operated candles.

Round Glass Crystals

I went to Hobby Lobby in Bloomington, and found they sold $3.00 bags of these colored round glass pieces.  I selected a bag that had crystals with a 7/8" OD and they are about 5/16" thick, with a flat bottom. I bought a glass canning jar to long term store the round glass gems.

Stained Glass

I used this stained glass from Hobby Lobby for the first 3 candle shelters, then I used it up.  Neither Bloomington or Peoria Hobby Lobby stores had any more in stock, so I had to substitute a similar clear glass for the last 3 shelters.

Design Completion

So now I knew I wanted to use round gems with 7/8" OD, and use battery powered candles that are 2 inch diameter and 2 inches tall.  I went back to Sketchup and modified the design to fit these design components..........   My design is 3.75 inches tall versus Jorgensen's design of 3.25 inches tall.

I noticed that in my design, the 2 little pieces of glass in the middle, were too small.  This is because Jorgensen's round gems are about 9/16" diameter, and mine are larger at 7/8".  I modified my design again to better fit my gem size............and now everything looks proportional..........  I also included the lead came border thickness of 1/8", so my border on the stained glass build board is now correct. The lead came total width is more than 1/8", but my drawing shows the correct size of the glass to cut.

More Lead Came

I am using the same sizes of lead came that I used on my small decorative clocks.  My inventory is about exhausted, so I re-ordered some more Came..............

Cutting the Glass

The "Morton System" tools really work well for rapidly and accurately cutting rectangular pieces of glass all the same size.  I used this method to cut out the bottom piece, and 2 small middle pieces.  The angled piece on top could be cut using the Morton System, but it would take a while to set up the proper angles on the plastic cutting I just cut and ground these.

Round Gems

I wrapped the round gems in 2 layers of black backed copper foil. I thought this would be stronger for retaining the gems.........versus just wrap of copper foil.  I use a short piece of lead border on the top and bottom of the gem to hold it in place.

It helps to use the plastic fib to smooth out the copper foil around the gem.  It looks less crinkly if you use this tool to smooth out the foil.

There are only 5 different colors in the Hobby Lobby pack, so I have to repeat 1 color for the 6 panels.

Assembly Fixture

I am going to need a fixture which holds the 2 joining panels in the right angular orientation when I tack solder them together.  I am going to try the design below, from wood, and see how it works.........

2" tall natural candle

I was curious to see how the candle cover would look using a natural 2" lit candle..............

New shipment of lead came arrives!

2nd Rounded Top piece

I still don't have a good technique figured out for how to build the rounded top pieces.  I will have to keep working on improving the process as I build more......

More Colored Gems

I bought a 2nd pack of glass gems from the Peoria Hobby Lobby store for $3.99......

assembling the 1st unit

I used the 60 degree piece of wood shown above, to successively solder sides 1 thru 3.

On sides 4 thru 6, I just tack soldered the top and bottom, versus 100% soldering the vertical joint.  I wanted to leave some flexibility for the sides to flex when I put the last side on.  This worked well.  I went back and fully soldered the joints after they were all tacked.  I also tacked the inside joints at the bottom, to give the unit some more rigidity.  I did not 100% solder the inside joints, because I don't believe it is necessary.

1st Unit soldere up

1st Unit Complete with Patina Applied

This design of candle shelter looks more impressive in the sunlight, versus in the dark with the candle illuminating it.

The Learning Curve [or speeding up production]

On the 3rd unit, I cut all the glass pieces first. Then I cut all the lead pieces required on the miter saw (except the 3 curved top pieces and the 2 little short pieces above and below the gems).  I marked the length using a pencil on the miter saw table. I was able to make all the pieces pretty quickly.  I could not cut the 3 curved pieces, because they need to be cut at assembly for length.  I also did not cut the 2 short pieces on top and below the gems, because they would fall through the crack in the miter saw........I cut them using a hand coping saw in a little vise.  As you can see in the photo below, it takes a lot of pieces to make 1 candle cover!!

Mass Production

I wanted to make a total of 6 of these shelters as Christmas 1018 gifts to family members.  To speed up production, I set up the chop miter saw to saw all the straight lead pieces.

I initially did not use the miter saw to cut the short 1/4" long pieces above and below the glass gems................because the cut-off piece would fall down into the crack of the miter saw table. I hand sawed them in a small vise using a coping saw.

Then I remembered a trick used on table saws, when you have small pieces.  You make a zero clearance throat piece for the table saw.  You start with a thin piece of wood, then crank the saw up until it cuts through the wood. The resultant piece is called a zero clearance insert.

So, I did essentially the same thing on the miter saw.  I used a small scrap piece of 3/16" thick Luan plywood as the "throat" you can see in the photo below.......

You definitely want to wear safety glasses sawing lead came on the miter saw...........because small pieces of lead fly everywhere during the sawing process.  I am using my regular carbide toothed blade that I use when I saw wood.

I ordered a new 1" diameter bit from Amazon, with the source being Diamond Tech, the same company that made my grinder.....

Mis-Match in Lead Came Sizes

I noticed that my inside H shaped pieces stick up quite a bit higher than my outside U shaped pieces.  They still work, but it would be easier to solder, and might look nicer, if the H shape and U shaped leads were the same height.

I only did 1 lead project in the Bloomington Touch of Glass classes...........and the instructor picked out and provided the both the U and H shaped lead came.  He did not talk about how to select the right sizes of lead came.

When I went to buy lead for the small decorative clocks I built, I focused on the gap which accepts the 1/8" nominal thickness of stained glass.  I chose 5/32 because it is a little bigger than the 1/8 or 4/32" thick glass.  I did not check and make sure the U and H shapes were the same height!

Using the available size data from the web site of, I made up an Excel spreadsheet of the available sizes, with the opening size and height...

The chart above explains why the 2 lead sizes I picked have a height mis-match.  They are labelled 1st choice in the table above.  My H channel has a height of 10/32" while my U channel has a height of 7/32"

If I stay with the 5/32" opening, which seems to work fine...........then I should switch on future projects to the RU-70 and RH-4 combination........if I am ok with a flat bottom edge on the U shape border.

If I want to stay with the RU-81 round border, then maybe I should try some RH-3 with it to see if the 1/8" opening works.

Lead selection is more complicated than I originally thought.  Some of the criteria include:

-you want the height of the U and the H to be the same if possible
-I like 5/16" opening, but maybe 1/8" opening works ok
-do you want rounded or flat edges on either the U or H

I saw another article saying you can mix and match different U shaped lead thicknesses, smaller for finer detail and larger for less detail.

The 3 Sketchup diagrams below show my original lead selection, and then 2 alternate designs.    The original design looks worse than it really is, because the glass length is only about 1/2".  This design has basically worked on two projects for is just a little difficult to solder at the edges where the taller H meets the lower height U channel.

Stretching the Lead Came

Lead came needs to be stretched, this puts some stress in it, and it will stay rigid after stretching.  I clamp one end in my bench vise, and grap the other end with my adjustable locking pliers.  It helps if you put the channel facing away from the vise and bench, or towards you when you pull.  This orientation tends to stretch it versus just pulling off the end with your adjustable pliers.

Lessons Learned from this Project

I learned I did not know much about lead came selection.  Per my notes above, you want the H and U shapes to have the same height, because they look better and solder better.......vs a mis-match in height.  You also have to decide if you want a rounded or flat edge on the U shaped border lead came.

I also learned how to stretch the lead came using my existing vise and locking pliers..........versus buying a special stretcher tool.  It really helps to have the channel opening pointed away from the bench and break less ends ........which means less chance of loosing your balance when the lead breaks!!!

March 2018 Update

I really was not happy with the finished appearance of the black patina on these candle shelters.  It was faded and streaky, even though I put a couple of coats of patina on it.

I recently joined the Facebook group, Stained Glass Addicts, and I saw a suggestion to use Turtle Wax to make the patina look better.  I bought a bottle at my local Ace Hardware store, and tried it out on the 1st candle shelter.  Wow, it makes a night and day difference in appearance.  Now the black patina is a more consistent dark color and shiny!!!!!!