Introduction: Fake Prop Cake From Cardboard & Soda Cans

About: Hi! I'm Natasha. I'm a Tech-Crafter, Maker, and the Designer of TechnoChic DIY Tech-Craft Kits. Technology should be chic!

When I needed a cake for a photoshoot I looked into buying one, but that was very expensive. Then, I thought of buying some styrofoam cake blanks and decorating them, but I found that cake blanks are also very expensive. Finally, I looked at my recycling bin - and voila! Everything I needed was there. Jackpot.

Here's how I made my prop cake out of cardboard, paper, and 3 empty soda cans. I also bought a jar of pre-made icing and iced the cake to make it look real.

It could look nice to leave the paper bare add some paper quilling or other paper decorations too!

I hope this instructable is helpful and saves you some money too! If you want to see more, please follow me here on Instructables and on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.


You will need:

  • Cardboard
  • 3 Empty Soda Cans
  • Large Cardstock or poster board
  • Hot Glue Gun & Hot Glue
  • Clear Tape
  • Scissors
  • A Printer to print the template


  • Bone Folder
  • Shelf Stable Cake Icing

Step 1: Print & Cut the Template

  • Print out the template and cut it out. For the 10 inch circle, cut out the two halves of the circle and tape them together to complete the full template.

If you don't have a printer, use a compass or ruler to draw and cut out 3 circles that are 6, 8, and 10 inches in diameter.

Step 2: Trace and Cut the Circles Out of Cardboard

  • Trace the templates onto cardboard twice so that you have 2 of each size.
  • Cut out all 6 circles.
  • Prepare your soda cans by rinsing them out and letting them dry.

Step 3: Hot Glue the Soda Cans in Place

  • Apply hot glue to the top of one soda can and place it in the center of the 6-inch cardboard circle.
  • Add extra hot glue where the can and cardboard meet for extra stability.
  • Then, add hot glue to the bottom of the can and place the other 6-inch cardboard circle in place.

* Tip: It's not very important that the can is perfectly in the center, but it is very important that the two cardboard circles are aligned with each other. It's helpful to look at the circles from above when placing them, then place the "drum" on its side and roll it to see if it is aligned correctly.

Step 4: Repeat

  • Repeat the last step for the 8 and 10 inch circle sizes.

Step 5: Measure and the Cut Cake Sides

  • Measure the distance from the outer edge to the other outer edge of the cardboard circles. This will be the width of the piece of paper that will become the sides of the cake. Let's call this the "cake side measurement."
  • Measure one inch from the edge of the poster board or paper and draw a line with a pencil or a bone folder.
  • Draw another line parallel to the first line that is one "cake side measurement" away from the first line using a pencil or bone folder.
  • Draw a final line parallel to this line, one inch away, and cut the paper along this line.

Step 6: Cut Triangles

  • Cut many triangles out of the 1-inch edges of the piece. The more triangles you cut, the smoother the outer edge of the cake will be. My triangles were about 1/3-inch each.

Step 7: Tape the Paper to the Cardboard

  • Use tape to start attaching the paper triangles as you fold them over the top cardboard edge. Only tape a few triangles to start.
  • Turn the cardboard over and start taping the paper triangles on the bottom cardboard edge.
  • Continue to roll the paper around the cardboard and tape the triangles in place on the top and bottom.
  • When you have gone all the way around, trim the paper so that it overlaps the seam slightly, and use a long piece of tape to secure the seam as shown.

Step 8: Repeat

  • Repeat the last step on the 8-inch and 10-inch pieces.
  • For the larger pieces, you may need to use 2 pieces of paper to make it all the way around the cake. These pieces would simply have 2 seams.

Step 9: Cut Topper Pieces

  • Use the same templates that you used to cut the cardboard.
  • Cut one of each of the 3 circle sizes out of the poster board.
  • Hot glue the pieces to the top of each cake tier.

Step 10: You Have a Prop Cake!

  • Stack the 3 tiers on a cake plate.
  • Now it looks like a cake!
  • For my purposes, I needed a real looking cake so I continued to ice it (in the next step). But - I think it would be really nice to stop here and add some paper quilling or paper sculpture to decorate it. If you do this please share it with me! I hope you will consider this!

Step 11: This Step Is the Icing on the Cake.

  • Ice the cake as if it was a real cake - the awesome thing is that it will be super easy because it's not made of sponge. :)
  • Display your cake in your photoshoot!

The icing that I used hardened and the whole cake kept well for several months after I made the cake!

I hope you enjoy making this project! If you want to see more, please follow me here on Instructables and on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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