Monday, November 2, 2009

Our (Literally!) Biggest Project, Part 1: A 6 Foot Tall Tower Of Cupcake Goodness!

So. I'm a cupcake bride. I've never been that big of a fan of wedding cakes, or really, cakes in general. Sure they're gorgeous, and I can't get enough of watching Cake Boss or Amazing Wedding Cakes, but all the one's I've ever tried have never tasted very good. They were either sickly sweet, chocolate (ick), or have chewy fondant frosting on them. Since I'm not the biggest fan of sweets in general, it's kinda hard to get behind spending $800+ on something I really don't want to eat.

But cupcakes seem to have it all: the opportunity for several different flavors, frosting types and designs, much cheaper than a wedding cake, and the need for a fantastic and fabulous 6 foot tall stand to hold them!

The inspiration for my cupcake stand came from a Craftster post from 2008. We changed ours up a bit by doing it in a square shape (to go with the square vases all my flower arrangements will be in). Here is the mock up that Mr. Cola put together in SolidWorks.

It all started with 6 pieces of 8 foot x 4 foot 1/4 inch MDF board (kind of like particle board, but really small particles). We had the hardware store cut the wood down so it would A) fit in our car and B) fit into our good friend the laser cutter.

Mr. Cola then laid out his design so the laser cutter could "print" it.

Then we put the cutter to work for a good 1.5 days, 9 hours a day!

While one of us watched the laser cutter (it has to be watched at all times because of the fire hazard), the other one took turns prepping for the next steps. Mr. Cola cut 1/2 inch pegs out of 1/4 inch diameter dowels.

And then sanded one edge so they would go smoothly into the wood (gotta love all the tools at his work!).

Next, these pegs were driven through the two layers of wood, to prep the wood for the pegs and to make sure everything fit and was aligned.

After taking the pegs back out, we then applied glue to the wood shelves.

And attached the two layers to each other, driving the pegs in again, this time with glue on them.

There were a couple reasons why we went with two layers of 1/4 inch wood, instead of just a single 1/2 inch piece. For one, because of the design with the center support boxes getting increasingly bigger down the stand, the little 'L' shaped notches that hold the support boxes to the shelves would be visible from the top of the shelf. The use of two layers meant that the top layer of the shelf covered the 'L' on the bottom layer, for the support box under it. Also, apparently two pieces of wood glued together are stronger than a single piece of wood that is the same thickness. Wood glue is actually stronger than the wood, so with a layer of it between the two pieces, it's extra strong. And finally, for the bottom four shelves we were going to have to do them in more than one piece of wood per shelf layer, since the laser cutter bed is only about 24 inches by 37 inches, and we can't cut anything bigger than that. So Mr. Cola designed an overlapping design for the shelf layers for added support on the massively big bottom shelves. Here is an example of three of the four pieces for one of the lower shelves, you can see how the bottom layer has the seam going vertical and the top layer has the seam going horizontal.

After gluing the shelves, we had to put them under weight to dry overnight. Mr. Cola was concerned about warping, especially since this stand will be in storage for quite a while, so we needed to glue everything as flat as possible.

In between all the gluing of the shelves, we also had to glue the center support boxes. Mr. Cola had cut them so the corners fit together like puzzle pieces, making it really straight and aligned, and also added extra support. I glued the corners, and put them into the shelves to dry in place.

It was quite a lot of back and forth gluing, cutting, waiting for the glue to dry the first two days. In my next post I'll continue with showing you the sanding, puttying and painting, as well as give a cost breakdown and the specs. But for now I'll leave you with a sneak peak at where we were at the end of the day on our second day of working on this project.

Will you be doing, or did you do, cupcakes instead of a traditional cake for your wedding?


  1. Umm, can I just say that this is amazing! What an awesome tower o'cupcakes that's going to be! I want to have some cupcakes on our dessert bar, but we will be using my mom's milk glass collection to display them :)

  2. That is way freaking amazing!! Once again, I'm super jealous of your laser cutter access =] It looks awesome, and I can't wait to see what it looks like finished.

  3. Seriously? There are no words. But I will say that is incredible! And I am jealous.

  4. That's awesome! We're doing cheesecakes on a stand that my uncle made (that I posted about here: but it's got nothing on your cupcake stand!

  5. How awesome you are able to do this! I can't wait to see how it looks when it's finished!

  6. This is totally fabulous! I love the idea, and the presentation looks like it's going to be unbelievable. I think cupcakes are a great and practical idea for a wedding, too. Love this!