A little bit of background here: I have acquired some amount of handyman skills over the last several years, so I tend to volunteer for all kinds of projects. We have a friend that earned her degree in culinary arts recently, which also can result in some interesting projects.
A friend of hers got married last weekend and she was the perfect person to provide an awesome wedding cake. As well as one wedding cake, they also wanted over 100 cupcakes. Our friend was talking about how expensive a cupcake stand of that size would be, and I chimed in with, “Well, I bet I could just make you one…” and added, “I bet I could even do it with the wood I already have in-house.” She got terribly excited and started looking around online for cupcake stands to give me an idea of what I was getting into. This is what she wanted:
I needed to design something that looked like that, and would hold 120 cupcakes. As I say in my physics class all the time, you really need to start with a picture. This is the design I drew:
I was assuming that a cupcake is 3 inches in diameter (including space between the cakes). Originally, we figured a 7 inch top for the bride/groom portion of cake, but that got extended to 10 inches at the last minute. After several iterations, I came up with the measurements in the lower right. I figured that it would hold 106 cupcakes when it started with a 7 inch top, so it should be plenty big with a 10 inch top.
Cutting the wood: I sifted through my wood pile and found plenty of 3/4 inch plywood for the job. Now plywood is not necessarily the nicest of woods, but the groom is a painter and he was going to pretty it up for us. First step was to cut all the top pieces. I got to use the new circular saw I got for Christmas, which was terribly exciting! Easy, just remember to measure twice and cut once. 🙂 Four pieces of plywood later and I was feeling good. Next up were the bases. I went with 5 inches tall for the bases to ensure that no matter what decorations our friend ever put on her cupcakes they would fit. These are where life gets tricky. It doesn’t really matter exactly how tall the bases are, but it does matter that they are exactly the same. I think my circular saw is nice, but keeping every cut the same seemed out of the range of reasonability. And a wobbly cupcake stand seemed like a …recipe for disaster. Luckily I have some super-awesome neighbors that let me use their table saw. 15 minutes later I had 12 pieces of exactly 5-ish inches tall, plus a set of four 2-ish inch pieces for the bottom tier. Here all the pieces are assembled, but when a spare piece of plywood fell on them, it all came apart. Turns out screws are necessary.
Construction: I screwed the four pieces for the base together. I drilled shallow holes into the pieces larger than the head of the screw so that the heads would be below the surface after drilling. Then I pre-drilled the holes for the screws and screwed the pieces together. After that I placed the base on it’s corresponding top piece, centered it, and traced it on the wood so I would know where to drill. I countersunk the screws again and one of the tiers was done. With a few small mishaps, the other 3 tiers came together. Finally, to cover up those ugly screw heads. I covered the countersunk heads with wood putty, let it dry, and sanded it smooth. Here are all the tiers stacked together, stable, solid, and wobble free. Now they just needed a paint job.
Painting: I wasn’t a part of this, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but here is the finished product with cupcakes on it. I was super impressed at how the paint makes the plywood look good. I feel it is not too far off from the original idea! Overall, I was pretty darn happy with this project.