I love cake! And so down at the tearoom at the Thameside Nature Park, where I volunteered I was asked to create something that would house three cakes in a small area. These cakes I should add are massive and very heavy (as well as very yummy too). So I needed to make sure that they were given a proper stand that was not only tough but would also compliment the cakes and possibly with a nature theme.
This is the rough drawing I came up with…
Basically 3 trees with a 13″ platter on the top of each one. The dome housing the cake would then act as the trees canopy to balance the look. I was hoping to have this on bearings so they could then rotate but I was told to “just build it and see how it went”. So I was then given the green light to make it.
Due to costs I had to try and make this for little money as possible. So the plywood that made the base and platters I was kindly donated by volunteers Adrian and Robin who were currently working on a hare project and so had lots of plywood at their disposal. This plywood I should add was extremely good quality, the best I have ever used. The trunk of each tree would be made from 3×3 softwood and the branches cut from 6×2, both of these were kindly donated by Dave who had them left over from his new Workbench which he is currently building.
So with all the materials located, it was now time to start building the stand. Although I still needed to work out the heights of each tree and so there would be enough clearance between the cakes as well as if the volunteers would be able to reach the cake etc. A good way of making sure there was enough clearance I found was to have the platter placed on top of paint tins I had in the house. This was the setting I eventually settled on.
So now I cut all the 3×3 to the length/height of each tree. I already had templates drawn out for the branches and so began cutting these out on my bandsaw.
The branches were then secured in place with some dowels fitted into the trunk and the lower branch. Screws fitted down from the platter into the top of the branch supported the top of the branch in place too.
I needed to add some support on the bottom as the cake would make the whole thing top heavy I needed to add something to help stop the whole thing topple over. So I decided to widen the bottom, to give the impression of roots. These were made from the offcuts of the branches I had bandsawed out and glued (with the help of these massive F Clamps) and pinned to the bottom.
I decided to start off with making the largest tree of the three. The trunk was first carved, mostly using large gouges, rasps and occasionally an axe to give the tapering trunk. The branches were next carved, using a similar fashion (but without an axe) and this is how it looked at the end of day one.
With the rough work done, it was now down to rasping the rough surface to a more even finish
A small amount of detail was then added to the bottom to emphasise the roots further (don’t think I would do this again in hindsight) and then the whole tree was given a good sand over.
Work then began with the next two trees. As these were smaller than the previous one I fitted these together more quickly.
I then concentrated on the work of the second tree which would be the middle tree building up the roots again like I did for the first one. While this took place I had primed the first tree ready for a top coat (which I was still awaiting a response on).
The middle tree then had the same treatment as the one before it and was carved out more quickly (and without the use of an axe too).
A final colour was finally decided and this was then added to both trees. It was also decided that the stand was becoming too large and that the third one would be dropped. I didn’t mind this as I had other projects I wanted to do.
A base was then added and then had a coat of clear varnish put on top to help it be kept cleaned. A layer felt was then added to the base to help grip the surface of the worktop a bit better too. This also meant that my makers mark then had to sit on the top of the base, rather than the underside, something I wasn’t really happy with. In hindsight I could have put it under one of the platters, which I may do next time round.
The cake stand was then collected to be placed into the tearoom. However when I popped in a few days later I had found that the cake stand had proven too large for the kitchen and also proved to be a bit of a hazard to the other volunteers with one bashing their head on it.
But I was allowed at least to finally see it all assembled with the cakes sat onto it, even if it was for 5 minutes just to get this picture. Volunteer Vicky happy posed with it to give a size of the stand.
Well as I write this post, it is still at the Nature park and was going to be used as a shop piece instead. I wasn’t really happy about this as this wasn’t what I had made it for and felt it would be a bit detrimental to the stand. The design I had done had to have two cakes or domes on the top in order to complete the design and so decided to sell it on. At this present moment, it has been intended to Coalhouse Fort who have yet to collect it but we shall wait and see….
I was disappointed about it not being used in the place I intended to see it in use. But it was pretty much doomed from the moment I made it as it would have been too big/tall anyway. But am happy it has had interest elsewhere and also has taught me techniques I hadn’t thought of doing with my carving work before, which has solved a problem I had been having making my future bird bath for me garden.