Wood and Resin Birthday Cake

About: My name is Joe Pierce and I'm a maker from King, NC. I focus mainly on woodworking but I also do other things. I'm interested in metal work and leather work as well.

Learn how to make a faux birthday cake from wood and resin. The video shows the making of the stand as well, but will not be included in this tutorial. That will be another tutorial, as I need to work on the order of operations and improve my method.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Materials

  • Walnut - 5" wide x 10" long x 1-1/2" thick - You may want to go a 1/8"-1/4" larger on the length and width to account for the blade thickness.
  • Maple - 5" wide x 5" long x 1/2" thick
  • Resin - I used Alumilite Clear because it's what I had on hand, but you could use Alumilite White because it sets faster and cures white instead of clear. You could use any type of resin, but check to make sure that it sets fairly fast (10 minutes or less)
  • Glitter - I used blue, but you can use any color you like.

Tools

  • Band Saw
  • Clamps - you can never have too many
  • Belt Sander
  • mixing cups and stirring sticks

Step 2: The Cake - Laminate the Blank

The cake will be comprised of 3 pieces of wood laminated together. Prepare your wood as follows:

  1. Cut the walnut into two equal 5"x5" squares.
  2. Make sure the faces are flat. If you purchased wood that is already surfaced, you shouldn't need to do much. Also make sure both faces of the maple are flat.
  3. Apply a liberal amount of wood glue to one side of each piece of walnut, and both sides of the maple.
  4. Stack the three boards with the maple in the center and clamp with as many clamps as you can fit.

The pieces may slide around as you clamp them because wood glue is slippery stuff. You can counter this by sprinkling a very small amount of table salt over the glue. Or just work slowly and adjust when pieces start to slip.

You don't need to worry too much about glue squeeze out, because the outsides are going to be cut away in the next step.

The glue should set in a few hours. If it is cold in your shop, I'd let it sit overnight.

Step 3: Cut Out Your Cake

Once the glue has set, you are ready to cut the blank into a circle.

Find the center of the blank, you can do this with a ruler by drawing a straight line diagonally from corner to corner making an "X" in the center of the blank.

Using your Pencil Compass, set the pencil point 2-1/2" from the metal point. Press the metal point into the center of the "X" that you drew, and draw a 5" circle on the blank.

Head over to the band saw and cut out the circle. Try to stay 1/16" to the outside of the line, as the band saw doesn't give the cleanest cut.

Then, sand to the line on your belt sander (You could also use a disk sander for this step) Make sure that your sides are straight and 90 degrees to the top and bottom.

Step 4: Prepare Your "Frosting"

I used Alumilite Clear resin that is really meant for casting into turning blanks, so this may have not been the best application for this particular resin, but its what I had available at the time. I recommend using a resin with a relatively fast set time. Because we aren't pouring into a mold, the runnier the resin is, the harder this next step is to achieve. The amount you will need to mix up will depend on how thick you want the frosting to be, and what resin you use. I mixed up 6oz for this piece.

Mix your resin according to the manufacturers instructions. Mix in your colored dye and some pearl pigment to your desired look.

I let the resin sit in the cup for a few minutes in the hopes that it would thicken a little, you'll have to play this part by ear.

Step 5: "Frost" Your Cake

Place your cake on some wax paper, or a silicone mat, there will be a lot of spill over.

Pour some of the resin over the top of the cake, and let it flow over the sides. Using your stirring stick, spread the resin so that it covers the wood entirely, if your resin is runny, you will need to continually scrape it up from the bottom until it starts to thicken.*

Once the resin has started to set, and isn't running down the sides anymore. It will still be sticky enough for your glitter. Sprinkle glitter over the top. To get the glitter on the sides, put a small amount in the palm of your hand and blow it onto the side of the cake.

Give the resin a full 24 hours to fully cure before moving to the next step.

TIPS:

You don't have to make your frosting white, you can use any color dye you wish. Make sure the dye is compatible with the resin you use.If you use resin that cures white, you can skip the white dye, but I would still use the pearl powder

For a more decorated cake, you could use a resin putty like MIlliput to make borders, shapes, flowers, etc

(*I had a lot of run over, so I waited for it to cure, then cut away the excess flush with the sides, then did a second pour with just a few ounces of resin so that it collected nicely at the bottom. This made it look like I had a border of frosting at the bottom.)

Step 6: Cut Out a Slice of Cake

After your resin has cured, trim any spill over if you need to, I was able to get a nice little bead at the bottom of mine. If you need to trim it you can use sandpaper to make it flush, or round it over and smooth it out.

To cut the slice out, first find the center on the top of the cake and mark it with the sharp point of your compass.

Cut a straight line from the outside edge to your center point.

Determine how big you want your slice to be, then cut another straight line from the outside toward your center point to release the slice.

Don't make it too skinny, we're not counting calories on this cake.

Now smooth out your cut with sandpaper, you can use the belt sander for the slice, but you'll need to hand sand the cut out in the cake.

Apply a wipe on finish to the exposed wood. I used Howard's Feed 'n' Wax. You could use wipe on poly, or even just paste wax.

Step 7: Final Touches

I made a cake stand on the lathe. You could do the same, or you could use a purchased stand.

If you want to add a candle to the top you can simply melt a bit of wax at the bottom of the candle and stick it onto the top of the cake.

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