Canadian Woodworking

Incense holder

Author: Michel Theriault
Published: February March 2004

An incense holder is also a great way to highlight a nice piece of wood that you may have.

Incense is a quick and easy way to set a mood. With over 70 scents (including: Apple Pie, Candy Cane, Cream Soda, Peppermint, Piña Colada, and Watermelon) there is sure to be a fragrance for everyone. A well chosen holder and scent is bound to make a thoughtful gift.

Cut Out the Blank

The first step is to cut the blank to size. This Incense Holder is 1 5/8″ wide, 11″ long, and 3/4″ thick, but you can adjust the size slightly to make the best use of the wood you have. This project looks good when made with an exotic, but also looks good when made from a piece of scrap wood. I cut the blank from a wider board on the bandsaw and hand-planed the edge smooth. You could also cut the blank to width on the tablesaw, if you prefer.

Next, cut the blank to length. I used a miter saw, but it could have easily be done on a tablesaw.

Rout the Edges

Once the blank is cut to size, rout all the edges. Both the top edges and ends are routed with a 1/8″ roundover bit set flush with the table, to create a smooth rounded edge. With the bit set, place the blank on the router table with the top down. For safety, use a router fence or pilot pin. Start with the ends and carefully guide the blank past the bit. Next, turn the blank and route the sides.

The bottom edges are routed with the same 1/8″ roundover bit, set 1/16″ higher to create the subtle base. With the bit set, place the blank on the router table with the top up, and route the two ends. Finally, route the two edges.

Rout the Channel

The channel, routed on the top of the blank, catches the ash as the incense burns down. To route this channel, use a 3/4″ Dish Carving Bit, set 3/8″ above the router table. Set the router fence 7/16″ from the edge of the router bit (or 13/16″ from the center of the bit) in order to enable you to take one pass that is centred on the blank.

Since the channel stops before the end of the blank, you need to make a mark on the fence that indicates where to start and stop. To do this, either make a mark or place a piece of tape on the fence 1″ from the centre of the bit on both sides.

Start the router and position the blank over the bit at the mark. Gently lower the blank onto the bit and then push the blank across the bit until the end of the blank reaches the mark. Take care to keep your fingers clear of the path of the bit. Turn off the router and lift off the blank.

Drill Hole for Incense

At one end of the channel, drill a 3/16″diameter hole at a 20º angle (approximately 1/2″ deep). The hole must be centred side-to-side and parallel with the channel so that the ash from the incense stick falls into the channel.


Sand the entire blank progressing through #120, #150, #180, and #220 grit sandpaper. Finish the blank with a drying oil finish such as Danish Oil or Tung Oil. Now all you need to do is open a pack of your favourite incense, insert a stick into the holder, and light up. This is one woodworking project that really makes scents!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Gifts/Crafts projects to consider
Username: Password: