Making a Cake Stand

Items used in this project:
Lazy Susan mechanism:
Green grippy gloves:
White stain blocker:
Water based white polyurethane:
Water based brown mahogany stain:

This cake stand begins with the base material. Because the base will be stained and then painted I went with 2×12 pine. Although this will be distressed I did make sure to cut around any knots that were in the board, just for stability reasons, and I cut a bunch of pieces long enough for two rings each.

These smaller pieces were then jointed on one wide face. With a board this wide I need to rely on the friction between my hand and the surface of the wood to push the material through. In this case my hands were slipping and I really wish I could use a long flat push block that has a hook on the back to pull the wood through. That would require me to take the guard off completely, which is something I don’t want to do because I like that the cutter is always covered with this guard. The next best thing is to add more grip to my hands. I like these particular gloves because they add grip without a thick barrier like typical utility gloves.

No edge jointing here. Just flatten one face and plane the other flat and parallel.

For all of these cuts I’m using a 3/8” spiral bit. This is a perfect time to mention that I’m doing some advertising work for Bits&Bits so if you want to get great quality router bits check them out and use the code JAYBATES for 10% off. You can use that code twice until March of 2020

For this first piece I wanted to show the cut without dust collection so you can see the router bit work. Never again! One cut without dust collection is all I need to appreciate good dust collection. This bit threw material all over the place. I should have stopped it mid cut and installed the dust boot but I let the cut finish, cleaned up the mess, and proceeded with the next one.

Much better. No more chips and dust spraying everywhere.

On all of these cuts I did not add tabs to the toolpath. Instead I made sure to pull the ring away from the bit as it finished the cut. Although it’s not a big deal it does save some time dealing with tabs. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the rings.

On the bottom ring I didn’t remove the center waste. Instead I just made a shallow inside perimeter cut to indicate where the hollow center will be and made a shallow pocket the same size as the lathe face plate. This will allow me to solidly mount the assembly to the lathe and also provide a cut line for reference, which will make sense when I remove the rest of the bottom later.

Then the rest of the rings will stack on top.

And finally the lazy Susan ring will be glued in place. The rabbet in the top full size ring is to locate the lazy Susan ring. I could have made the top ring the same size but doing it this way will slightly reduce waste while on the lathe.

I’m using quick setting glue so I didn’t mind doing this in stages. First three pairs were glued together.

Then the bottom was added to one pair and the other two pairs were glued together. I’ll glue these two assemblies together while on the lathe.

Shortly after that the face plate is added to the bottom.

On the top assembly I forgot to have the CNC cut a center hole for locating on the lathe live center. So I used the drill press to get as close to center as I could.

The final glue up was done on the lathe between centers.

Here you can see how much I was off. Not a huge amount but I was hoping to have everything line up a little better. Some of this is error in aligning each ring during gluing and some of it is the tailstock center hole being drilled by eye and not the CNC machine.

I let the glued up assembly sit on the lathe overnight while I started on the top platform. For that I used a wide section of a weathered ash slab. As I’m looking over the footage of this step I have no idea why I chose to bring the slab inside and use a hand saw vs simply bringing a battery powered circular saw outside. But anyway, section was cutoff for the top ring.

The dirt in the bark is likely to dull the jointer knives so I first removed it at the bandsaw.

Then the section is jointed flat.

And planed parallel. I’ve only recently used ash for the first time and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite woods to work with. It’s inexpensive, machines easily, stains and finishes easily, and it’s just beautiful.

Not much machining is needed for the top. Just a pocket for the lazy Susan mechanism and the perimeter ring.

After the top was cut out I noticed a crack in the piece. This was likely a small check, or crack, on the end of the slab that I did not see. As the circle was cut out it likely released enough internal stress in the board that the crack opened up enough for me to notice it. The solution is to stabilize it by filling it with epoxy.

The next day the turning can begin on the base. I haven’t turned anything in a while so I started with carbide tools and immediately switched to a bowl gouge.

It took me a few minutes to get back into the swing of turning, and I still realize I’m no expert. It’s a lot of fun but I still need to take my time. Having the profile and all of the dimensions sitting on the lathe with me for reference was pretty helpful. I made a few reference pencil lines on the turning and then just compared it to the dimensions on the paper.

Of course, very light frequent sharpening will keep the tool performing the best and result in a smoother surface on the wood.

After a few joyful minutes the turning is done and the mess has to go. I really enjoy turning and really dislike the mess it creates. Even with a face shield, shirt, and leather apron I always feel so itchy when turning.

Before removing the piece from the lathe I applied a water based brown mahogany stain. This is just a base coat that will be covered so I let it really soak in before wiping up the excess.

While the stain dries I took the top platform to the router table to add a roundover on both the top and bottom edge.

Followed by a little sanding..

And then the same water based stain is applied to the ash top. This surface will not be getting the same additional layers as the base so wiping it off soon is necessary so that the grain is still visible.

Back at the lathe the water based stain is dry so I applied a white water based stain blocker.

Followed by a white water based polyurethane.

I went back to the top platform and applied a couple thin coats of shellac and while those coats dried I jumped back and forth to the base to try and distress it a little bit. I wouldn’t consider myself good at distressing but I would also say I have no desire to put forth the effort to get good at distressing a finish. But this project wasn’t for me so I gave it a shot.

After the shellac dried I could really see the filled crack in the top. It wasn’t a huge eyesore but it was distracting to me. Here’s where I made a bad judgment decision. Instead of leaving it alone I thought I could overpower the filled crack distraction with a decorative distraction.

Thinking it would be a fun twist on the project, I carved the words Leftovers Are For Quitters on the top.

This was then filled with a white pigmented epoxy and I let it sit overnight.

Now the faceplate can finally be removed and the bottom hole cut. This is where the shallow groove comes into play on the bottom as it lets me know where to cut with the jigsaw.

To mount the lazy Susan a through hole is needed in the base. Really only one hole is needed, as you can rotate the mechanism to get to the rest of the screw locations, but I drilled four for some reason.

Back to the epoxy lettering on the top. This is what I had in mind for the text. A white letter that contrasts nicely with the wood. This is the same white epoxy in a walnut coaster set I made a little while ago. It turned out great with no problems.

The epoxy in this project didn’t turn out great. It’s completely my fault though. I failed to take into consideration the dark wood with this project was stained dark. And as I flushed the epoxy with the surface I was forced to re-stain the piece. While re-staining the piece I accidentally stained the letters. In the end it’s a failed attempt at adding a fun spin on the project. The weird, low contrast lettering is just as distracting as the crack. But oh well. Lets move on :)

The lazy Susan mechanism is briefly attached to the top just to establish the screw holes. And then permanently attached to the base.

With everything upside down I can use a few driver extensions to secure the top.

And with that, this project is done. Other than the frustration of accidentally staining the white letters on top I really enjoyed making this project. It was a fun way to get back on the lathe and a good design experiment for a project I doubt I would have made on my own.

That’s it for this project. If you liked it be sure to sign up for my email newsletter. Not everything I publish makes it to YouTube whereas everything I publish makes it to my website. Have a great day and I’ll talk to you in the next one.


  1. So how aggravating is It line up the holes to screw the top to the swivel? I’ve seen this but not on something this deep. Also I love that you show the human aspect to things not always turning out the greatest and how to overcome or just accept. Great job Jay.

  2. An interesting project. You touched on my biggest gripe about the euro style jointer guards. You need a lot of grip on your hands to push a 8-12″ wide board against the force of the cutter. So I remove the guard. but i’d prefer a pork chop any day because at least it there some of the time.

  3. There’s 1/2 hour of my life I’ll not get back ! – Just think you’re better than this J Bates. A cake stand!! really…

  4. Jay, you have to water that poor little fern in front of the lathe. :)

    I like how it came out. Personally, for lettering, I prefer it more subtle so this appealed to me.

    • Thanks Robert. The fern is actually in a recovery stage. I brought them in too late this winter. It’s got plenty of water. Just needs more sunlight :)

  5. The cake stand looks good although I would prefer a slightly slimmer base. Also, were you concerned about grain direction when you glued the rings together?

    • I made sure to stagger the grain 90 degrees with each ring. The southern yellow pine that I used has such defined grain that I needed to look at the faces before gluing up. The end grain looks very similar all the way around.

  6. So let’s see if I have this right … You made something exactly like someone asked you to make for them. Then people will make negative comments about wasting time watching the video. And make negative comments about the project being beneath your skills.
    Damn , Jay I sure hope you can do a better job of keeping people Entertained and Intrigued in future projects , Hahahahaha.
    Nice Job Jay. I am sure the client was extremely happy with the finished project. It is always a pleasure watching your videos no matter the content.

  7. Jay
    Nice design. Wood magazine had a tiered design with some turning, but I like this one with the lazy susan.
    Also noticed you have a Hammer combo jointer/thicknesser, what size and is it helical head? How do you like it?

  8. Jay thanks for sharing this video – it was fun to watch and I truly appreciate your honesty in telling things that go right as well as things that don’t go so well. Keep up the great work.

  9. Ok I realize that it was for free and not a paying customer, but I see a couple people asked if the person that received it was happy with it? And that question was only answered with it wasn’t a customer. So did the non customer that received this gift like it??

  10. Hi Jay, off topic, but:

    You posted either plans/video … but probably gave a link to someone else’s project … 3 or4 months ago for a saw table cabinet. Do you have this info to hand? I need to make table that fits a new spot in my small workshop.

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