Picking my favorite post I’ve even written is a tough job. I’ve loved writing for the ‘Bee, but generally speaking, I don’t think my strength in my contribution to this site has been in the emotional arena. Nope, my pride and joy has been writing tutorials on our many DIY projects that we incorporated into our wedding. What can I say, I come from a more journalistic writing background, relaying a “here’s what happened and how” is just what comes more naturally to me.
And one of my favorite projects that I wrote about was our 6+ foot tall cupcake tower. This was by far our biggest wedding project, and a really special one to me, because Mr. Cola and I worked hand in hand to complete it together. With my vision, his engineering and construction skills, and a lot of sweat, sanding and painting, we created one of the highlights of our wedding, together.
It’s not just the fact that this display for our wedding dessert blew our guests away, and was a huge conversation piece all night long that makes this a special project to me. No, it was really all about how we joined forces and came together to create something great with our own two hands. We’ve collaborated on many things in the past, deciding where to move, making budgets, and many life choices. But this was really our first opportunity to create something tangible together, working side by side, giving and taking, and just making it work.
Sure, we argued a little, and didn’t always see eye to eye on how to best go about making our giant tower. But it was such a rewarding experience when we finally erected the finished tower at the end of the very long 4 days”¦we had created this together; this monstrosity of wood and paint that would hold twice as many cupcakes as we really needed, and I wouldn’t trade the struggle and hard work to get there together for anything.
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 cakes 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, they can be much cheaper than a wedding cake, and they need a fantastic and fabulous 6 foot tall stand to hold them!
The inspiration for our 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 of our 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 with 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.
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.
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. This 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, and 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 peek at where we were at the end of the day on our second day of working on this project.