When I was putting up the Christmas lights, I came across a tree branch that was broken, and needed to be trimmed. Pulled out my saw, and trimmed it, thinking "here is some wood for that stuff I see on Pinterest".
It sat in my shed for about a month, and then I decided to give it a whirl. Turns out, the hard part was getting a straight cut using my worn-out saw blade.
First I cut it into 4-5 inch sections. I realized pretty quickly that the bark on the cypress wood was just going to continue to flake off, so I sanded the outsides pretty thoroughly. Then used a drill bit to create a hole in the top for the tea lights.
The 1 1/2 inch bit was the right size. Sawdust just went everywhere! You have to drill down pretty far, and I wish I had some clamps to hold the wood while I drilled. As it was, I wore gloves, because it kept trying to flip out of my hands.
I did try painting the bottom half of some of them, like Pinterest shows, but I did not like the effect.
The part of the branch that had split, and caused me to trim it, to begin with, was pretty interesting looking so I drilled some holes in it also.
After I had them all cut and drilled, I sprayed them thoroughly with some spray sealer. The sealer really helped to pull out the natural beauty of the wood.
Then I put them in bundles of three, and gave them as Christmas gifts... Except for the arch. The arch I kept for my mantle.
Total cost: $7.00 for the 1.5" drill bit.
Total time: 3-4 hours, mostly to allow for sealer drying.