Help Me Please! How Many Dowels In A Six-Layer Cake?

Decorating By lillicakes Updated 21 Jul 2008 , 2:33pm by lillicakes

lillicakes Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 11:58am
post #1 of 18

Hey folks! I have been searching through Google trying to find the answer to this. It seems there used to be a chart on for the number of dowels needed per layer but I can't find it.

I am assembling a six layer stacked cake (16-14-12-10-8-6) and am getting a little anxious about the cake holding up. The weight on the bottom layer will be enormous with those big cakes. I have made a lot of stacked cakes but none with this many layers. I have always used dowel rods, 1/4" or a little bigger. I am wondering if I should get 1) bigger dowels or 2) plastic dowels, and how many I should place in those ginormous tiers?

TIA for any insight!

17 replies
leah_s Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 12:15pm
post #2 of 18

No dowels! Use SPS! icon_smile.gif

Maria_Campos Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 12:22pm
post #3 of 18

I agree with Leahs, for a cake with that many tiers use the SPS system and you will avoid a lot of stress.

lillicakes Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 12:24pm
post #4 of 18

Thanks, leahs. I was afraid of that...Is there really no way to do this with dowels, instead of SPS?

mgdqueen Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 12:24pm
post #5 of 18

I would not trust wooden dowels with six tiers of cake-just personal preference. I would either use plastic dowels or SPS for sure. I don't care if you put 20 dowels in the bottom tier (like swiss cheese-ewww) but if one of them moves your cake will fall. Six tiers look so much better stacked than on the floor! thumbs_up.gif

cakeladydi Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 12:34pm
post #6 of 18

What about using the plastic seperator plates with the little "feet" that fit into the plastic hidden pillars from Wilton? I've never had a problem with them. I did have a problem with wooden dowels and almost lost a cake to sliding.


-K8memphis Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 12:40pm
post #7 of 18

I like sps. I have used every kind of support system that I know of. They all work fine when used properly.

Wooden dowel have held our cakes up forever. Placed correctly they work great just like every other system.

Use as many as is needed for you to feel your work is secure.

In the bottom tiers you can use five or six 3/4 inch wood dowel that they will cut for you at the hardware store.

Lots of choices.

bobwonderbuns Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 12:40pm
post #8 of 18

In my pix the Towering Inferno cake is exactly those dimensions and was held up with dowels. My rule of thumb -- 16 inch cake gets 16 dowels. 14 inch cake gets 14 dowels and so on. Center dowel down the middle and voila -- a very stable cake! icon_biggrin.gif

beachcakes Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 1:00pm
post #9 of 18

I just bought some SPS from Global Sugar Art and they're really not expensive at all! Not any more than the Wilton separator plates, I don't think, each plate was only a few bucks.

leah_s Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 1:00pm
post #10 of 18

Yes, but with SPS there will only be four legs going thru each tier. You won't "Swiss cheese" your cake. And they can not slide or get off vertical like dowels can. And SPS is cheap-cheap-cheap.

lillicakes Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 6:09pm
post #11 of 18

Thanks everyone!

Problem with getting into the SPS system is I only have until Saturday to get it figured out, and we don't have much available locally. I will have to scope out all the options tomorrow--maybe there will be a full set of SPS. What bothers me about SPS is that the cakes have to be exactly the height of the pillars, but apparently that doesn't cause a problem for other people.

Or maybe I will just use big dowels...I have a compound miter saw so no need to have anyone else cut it icon_wink.gif

Bobwonderbuns (love it!), that's a lot of dowels! How thick a dowel did you use on the big layers? Did you keep them all toawrd the edge or try to support the middle a little bit?

One last thing--I usually do the final "stake through the heart" deal, but was wondering if that was necessary since I am not transporting the cake assembled. Too dangerous to just stack at the reception and leave?

Thanks again!

indydebi Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 8:14pm
post #12 of 18

I agree with leahs on SPS for you.

But if time is a constraint, be assured that wooden dowels will work fine. I've done 6 tier cakes with no problems. I only use 4 dowels per tier no matter how big the cake is. If you want to put 6 in the bottom two, just for your own comfort, go for it.

IMO, too many dowels will turn the cake into swiss cheese ... it damages the structural integrity and when the cake is cut, it's a freakin' mess! (Had to cut another bakery's cake once and they did this .... I was cussing the whole time! Because of all the dowel holes, the cake just crumbled during the cutting.)

If you're a little nervous, and can't get the SPS in time, you might go with the wilton hidden pillars and put plastic plates under each tier. These are excellent.

lillicakes Posted 20 Jul 2008 , 2:13pm
post #13 of 18

Thanks again everyone!

In the end, I used separator plates under all but the 6" and used them with the Wilton plastic dowels. There were no entire SPS available anywhere locally, and I couldn't even get any hidden pillars. But we assembled the cake onsite (except the top two layers) so the side-to-side stability was not so much an issue.

I wound up using 8 plastic dowels in the 16 and 14, 6 in the 12, and 4 in the 10 inch cake. Even that may have been overkill. I really liked the plastic dowels so am glad to have tried them finally. Somehow it seems more sanitary than the wood sticks (that may be silly, but I don't use wood cutting boards, either).

Anyway, I am attaching a photo of the finished cake. It was banana and apple spice cake on alternating tiers with cream cheese icing. The bride and groom are earthy types who work for the local land conservancy, and the simple cake (on the "tree cookie" they provided) went very well with the rest of the reception.

Thank you again, everyone, for all of your ideas and advice!

-K8memphis Posted 20 Jul 2008 , 4:13pm
post #14 of 18

I love your cake--it's breathtaking.

ValMommytoDanny Posted 20 Jul 2008 , 4:26pm
post #15 of 18

Sorry for being a nut... what's SPS stand for?

Sep Plate ????

Many thanks!

jammjenks Posted 20 Jul 2008 , 7:46pm
post #16 of 18

That cake is gorgeous! Can you post the picture on CC so I can save it to my favorites?

-K8memphis Posted 20 Jul 2008 , 8:13pm
post #17 of 18
Originally Posted by ValMommytoDanny

Sorry for being a nut... what's SPS stand for?

Sep Plate ????

Many thanks!

Single plate system where you like place "little tables" that is a plate and four legs into a tier in order to place the next tier on top of that.

lillicakes Posted 21 Jul 2008 , 2:33pm
post #18 of 18

Thank you again, everyone, and for the nice compliments! icon_smile.gif

jammjenks, I did figure out how to post the photo in the gallery, so it is there. Thanks for the suggestion!

Quote by @%username% on %date%