So i have been using the wilton support rods and caps to stack my cakes, but they are getting harder to find in stores and they are really kind of expensive as they do not go very far. What kind of dowel rods does everyone use and where do you buy them? I like the plastic ones. Also am curious about the straws that i see some people use. Would love your advice, thanks!!
Personally, I use wooden dowels and always have. I know that people say they would never use them, but they're been used for decades and it's really just personal preference. I'd never use straws, but that doesn't mean that other people shouldn't!
Have you checked out the Coast system for the plastic pillars? I think it's similar to the Wilton ones, and you can get them on cakedeco.com http://www.cakedeco.com/cgi-bin/webc.cgi/st_sresults.html
I use straws, but I'm not doing 4 (or more) tiers...usually just 2-3 tiers. Straws have never failed me and they are easy for people to find when cutting. The two 5-tier wedding cakes I've done were just three tiers stacked and two on the side, so I didn't have to worry about GREAT support. If I would have had to stack all five tiers, I probably would've used wooden dowels (with straws) for extra support.
Large bore straws or Wilton large bore hollow plastic dowels are extremely strong and very cheap.
I prefer the large bore straws because they're the cheapest, easiest to cut [with scissors] , and readily available. I've supported up to 4 tiers using these and I'd have no problem going higher.
The hollow column is structurally one of the strongest supports--you create a cake plug [anchor] when you use it and it's less prone to slippage because of the multiple points of contact--an "O" vs. a ". "
I use a combination of wilton plastic dowels and wooden dowels, and they work great! For larger tiers, I use SPS on the bottom tiers, and the plastic or wooden dowels on the top tiers.
I've found great prices on all this on Oasis Supply :)