Introduction: Make a Cake Stand

About: I've built houses, decks, custom cabinets, furniture of all types. Ive done furniture repair and restoration, residential and commercial remodels, restaurant seating and tables and hotel furniture. Ive been a …

I saw this cake stand at Bed bath and beyond. My wife was going to buy it, when I stopped her and said No,
I can make that The top platter is 10-1/2" in diameter. The base is 7-1/2" in diameter. The entire thing stands 7" high. This is a great piece and could easily be used for many many other things. Cupcakes, veggie plate, cheese and cracker platter etc...
It has a Cherry top, Maple and Walnut legs and a Maple base. It is finished with polycrylic water based clear semi-gloss so nothing wet should sit directly on the platter, though it shouldn't hurt the finish if some frosting or something falls onto it. simply wipe it with a damp rag and wipe it dry. Wax it before and after each use to keep it protected for years to come.

Come along and I'll show you how I made this piece.

Step 1: Grab Some Wood

This cake stand consists of a lower disk (the base) its finished dimensions are 7 1/2" in diameter and is approximately 1" thick. This was 2 boards edge glued to form an 8" square board (rough square).
There are three legs that are 6 1/2" long and 2 1/2" diameter spindles glued up from some scrap maple and walnut.
Lastly, The top platter is 10 1/2" in diameter and 1"thick. It is made up from 3 cherry boards edge glued together to form one large 12" rough square board.

Tools used
As far as large equipment, you need a Midi lathe with a large enough swing and drill press. I used my table saw as well as a miter saw however, these are not necessarily "must have" tools for this project. If you have large enough wood blanks already you are pretty much ready to go.

Pencil, straightedge, compass, angle square, spring punch or scratch awl 1/8" drill bit,
Sandpaper, tung oil, sealer, polycrylic clear semi-gloss finish and some food safe wax.

Step 2: Glue-up the Blanks

My lathe swing is 12 1/2". That means I can turn a disk NO LARGER than 12-1/2" in diameter. anything larger will not turn. So that is my limitation.

The average stack cake is 9" without frosting or decoration, so 10-1/2" diameter should be a nice size for this project.
I cross-cut the cherry boards to 11-1/2"  I also cross-cut 2 maple boards to form the base.
Lastly you need 3 spindle blanks for the legs 2"X2"X7". I had some maple and walnut sticks already glued up from a failed project. I simply cross-cut those to size.

You can never have enough clamps! I had to glue the 2 platters up in 2 different glue-up sessions.
I glued up the Cherry platter first. Use ample glue and do not tighten the clamps too much as you run the risk of squeezing all the glue out of the joint. A proper edge glue will be stronger than the actual wood. In almost all cases the wood will break before the glue joint fails.
It takes about 20 minutes for my glue to set, but do not un-clamp it until the glue has set for at least 3 hours.

I then glued up the base platter and the leg blanks.
Once you have everything glued- up it is time to move on.

Step 3: Lay-out the Holes

Once you have all your blanks glued and ready, We need to mark centers and hole locations for the column legs.

Using the angle square, mark lines at all four corners. I knew my boards were not perfectly squared and what you will get after marking all four corner lines is a small square in the middle of the board. The small square is enough to mark a very close rough center to continue on to the next step. Using the spring punch or scratch awl and mallet, make a divot point in the center.

Using the compass I then marked the largest circle I could make keeping in mind my lathe limitations.

Now do the same for the lower platter and at the same time make a smaller diameter circle about 1.5" less than the radius of the large circle on the smaller platter.
NOTE:Do not adjust your compass after marking the inner circle on the lower platter.

Using the spring punch or a scratch awl, make a divot at any location on the line in the inner circle. Now using the compass with the same radius as the inner circle, place the needle point in the divot and mark a perpendicular line on the inner circle. Then move the needle point to that mark and repeat until you make your way around the inner circle to the first divot point.
Repeat this on the larger top platter as well. Then using your spring punch make a divot at every other mark on the inner circle.
You should only have 3 divots around the inner circle PLUS THE CENTER DIVOT on each board.
Now, using a 1/8" drill bit drill a hole at ALL divots about 1/8" deep.  This will keep the locations for the legs marked until you are ready to drill the hole for the legs.
Once you have all your holes properly marked, we need to remove the corners of each board. Cutt off all corners about 1/8" outside the large circle.
Lastly, Mark centers on both ends of each leg. then divot them and follow up with the 1/8" drill bit to define the center hole.

Moving on...

Step 4: Turn the Base Platter

Using the drill press and proper sized bit, I drilled a through hole in the centers of each platter for my worm drive screw to grip and mount to the lathe.

Insert the worm drive and mount the base platter (bottom side facing the tail of the lathe) to the worm drive.
Rough turn the base round and flatten the bottom of the platter. Once it is flat, dish it out slightly, leaving a ring around the outside diameter of the platter. After that, cut a recess so you can flip it around and mount it to your chuck.
Before you flip it around, finish sand the bottom all the way to 400 and apply 2 coats of tung oil  and a coat of sealer.
Now you can remove the platter and the worm screw from the chuck and re-mount the base platter with the top side facing the tail stock.

Now you can flatten this side
NOTE: you may need to drill the leg hole locations deeper. this depends on how much stock is removed to make it flat.

Once its flat, I used my Jacobs chuck and 1-1/8" forstner bit and drilled into the center about 1/4" deep. This will accommodate a plug finial to cover the hole used for the worm drive on the top of the base platter.

Keeping the platter mounted to the chuck, remove the chuck with the platter and install a drive spur and live center to set up for spindle turning.

I then glued up more of the leg stock and mounted the blank between centers and turned it rough round. On the tail side I formed a tenon that fits the 1-1/8" hole on the base platter. I checked the fit several times before getting it right.  And once it fit snugly, I measured back from the shoulder of the tenon 2" and marked and parted that piece off.
I then re-mounted the chuck holding the lower platter back onto the lathe.
Add some glue and insert your plug in the center. I then used my tail stock to clamp the finial plug in place.
Once the glue has dried, it's time to finish turn and sand the lower disk to completion.
I first turned the finial to shape then I moved on to the edge. You can shape the edge any creative way you want. I simply made two beads and wire burned a line between the two beads. If I knew how to carve, I would decorate the edge much fancier than what I did.
Once that is finish turned the way you want it, It's time to finish sand. I sanded all the way thru 400 grit. Then applied two coats of tung oil. Once dried, I applied 1 coat of sealer and after that dried I sanded with 400 grit one last time.

Step 5: Turn the Top Cake Platter

Moving on to the larger top platter.

This is much like the base platter in the last step so I will not go into too much detail. But there are lots of pics.

Mount the worm drive into the chuck and attach the top platter blank to the worm drive with the bottom of the cake platter (the side with the leg holes) facing the tail stock.
Rough round the blank and flatten the current face (the bottom of the cake platter).
Now form a chuck recess for mounting on the chuck without the worm drive. Sand the bottom of the platter all the way through 400 grit and apply 2 coats of tung oil followed by a coat of sealer. Once that is dried you can sand it one last time in preparation for the top coat.

Now remove the platter from the worm drive and remove the drive screw. Flip the piece over and attach it to the newly formed chuck recess and tighten.
Now rough turn the edge and rough flatten the top of the platter. Now drill the center hole a little bigger to clean up the hole from the worm screw. We now need to plug this hole.

I removed the platter and chuck (without removing the platter from the chuck). and set up for more spindle turning. I re-mounted the leg stock used for the plug finial and simply made a dowel plug that fits the hole in the the top platter. Again, this required several test fits until I got it right. I then parted it off from remainder of the stock.
Once you have the plug ready, add glue and using a mallet, drive the plug into the hole. Let it dry for about 20 minutes.
Re-mount the platter to the lathe and remove the excess of the plug and finish flatten and smooth the face (top of the platter).
I went with the same bead and wire burn technique on this edge as I did for the base, but I added a third bead.
Once it is sanded through 400 grit apply tung oil and sealer, let it dry and finish sand one last time.

After rough flattening I noticed I had a nasty little knot show up. I normally would fill this with CA glue and shavings from the wood or with a simple epoxy. I was out of both of these so I improvised with some wood putty, glue and shavings. I have never tried this before, but I have tried wood glue and saw dust. It turned out ok. I included pics to show the process. This needs to cure at least 24 hours before re-mounting it to finish the piece.

Step 6: Turn the Three Legs

I set up my lathe for spindle turning and mounted the leg blank between centers. The first thing I did was round the stock. Then I formed the first tenon on the tail end of the piece. I made the tenon just shy of 1/4". Then I measured back 6" and made a mark then formed the other slightly over sized tenon and parted it off leaving the 1/4" tenon. I did this for all three legs then one by one, made each tenon fit snugly in a scrap block with a hole made with the same 1-1/8" bit I will use to drill into the platters to receive the tenons.
After I got all the tenons to fit snugly I shaped and finished each one without removing it from the lathe.

Trying to duplicate multiple pieces is one of the tougher things to do on a lathe, and I am quite bad at it. These small projects give good practice in trying different techniques to accomplish this. I would like to turn a chess set soon.

I made a simple template. I think I have heard these called story cards, sticks or boards. This is simply a board with markings on it that mark off for the center of the leg and the shoulder of the tenon on both top and bottom of the leg. Use this to transfer the marking for each leg.
Then using calipers and a parting tool I made the center of the leg about 3/4" in diameter and the center of the top and bottom 1" in diameter.  then I "eyeballed" a step slope to make the low points gradually meet up with the high points. (That is the best way I can describe it). once you have the high points and low points the proper shape you can smooth turn the legs and finish shape them. Then sand thrugh 600 grit apply 2 coatsof tung oil and sealer, remove it and let it dry. Do this three times.
After the three legs were dried, I remounted them one by one to finish sand them in preparation of the top coat.

YAY! We are almost done!

Step 7: Bore the Holes for the Legs

I moved over to the drill press and chucked up the 1-1/8" forstner bit with some painters tape marking 1/4" deep. Simply bore the hole 1/4" deep.

Go slow, be careful. We are on the final stretch!

Step 8: Apply 2 Coats of Polycrylic

Before final assembly, I sprayed 2 coats of the polycrylic clear semi-gloss.
I am still new at spraying finish and I do not know what I am doing enough to explain where I am wrong or where I am right. I think I had too little of flow on this project, and it was also very hot out and dry. Normally, dry conditions are Ideal, but this finish was drying very fast because of the heat. after these dried I re-mounted the base platter and the top platter to the lathe and micro-meshed as much surface area as I could get to. This left the pieces very very smooth and ready for the final coat of clear coat.

Step 9: Assemble the Cake Stand

Because I have finish on the tenons and inside the bore holes, I cannot use wood glue. Instead, I would normally use gorilla glue or epoxy for this but I had none so I raided the wifes craft room and found this craft glue I have never heard of, lets hope it holds!

Start with the base platter. add glue to the holes and then add the legs. I then applied glue to the tops of the legs and place the top platter in place. This takes quite a bit of even pressure to press them into the holes while lining them up at one time.
But I did get it done! it fit very nice. I let this sit for an hour with some added weight to the top platter.

Step 10: Spray the Final Coat of Finish.

Check the piece over with your eyes and hands, feel for any rough spots and look for any glue squeeze-out. If you find any spots that have a rough feel to them use the micro-mes to try to smooth it out better. blow it off with some compressed air to remove any dust or particles clinging to it.

I sprayed the final coat of polycrylic on the piece. I made it some-what heavy and let it dry for a couple hours. After it was thourouly dry and tack free I waxed and hand polished the piece with a cotton rag.
This turned out really well and the wife really digs it. her frineds and sister have all requested one as well. If I make them, I will update this with the new pics.

Thanks for looking!

Now, to figure out a lid for it.

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