How to Make a Tiered Donut Wedding Cake Stand

How to make a large wood tiered donut wedding cake stand that can also be used to hold cupcakes, pastries or small favors for a party, school bake sale or craft fair.

Wedding donut tower instead of traditional wedding cakeHow to Make a Tiered Wedding Donut Cake Stand

When we were planning my oldest daughter’s wedding, one thing she and her now husband wanted was a donut wedding cake stand, not a traditional wedding cake.

Little girleEating from a donut wedding cake at a wedding

Everyone likes donuts. They are more colorful and easier to eat than wedding cake, too.

They turned to me for help to create their vision. I scoured Pinterest for ideas and did find a few donut tower stands to buy. The tiered donut wedding cake stands I found were nice – but were too expensive, others too small. What I didn’t find was a tutorial on how to make one.

DIY Donut Wedding Cake Stand

How to make a DIY tiered donut stand for a wedding or party.

We needed a stand that would hold about 130 donuts and be budget friendly. That is when I figured I would design my own donut stand and create a step-by-step tutorial to help others who may be wanting an affordable DIY donut stand.

When baked goods at a fundraising bake sale or even crafts at a crafts fair are displayed in a festive way, sales go up. :-) Much better than cookies in a cardboard box or foil tray on a table.

How to make a donut wedding cake

You are thinking to yourself, I like this, but I don’t need a big donut stand for a wedding. Read a little bit further as the way I created this stand may inspire you on how to make a much smaller tiered stand to use on a daily basis in your home.

This stand design can be used to hold a number of different items from baked goods in your kitchen, cosmetics in your bathroom, or jewelry on your bedroom dresser.

There are many options to use to make a smaller tiered stand, using, but not limited to wood charger style plates, metal trays and even china plates. For a smaller petite stand, use staircase balusters as the risers and different size dinner and or dessert plates to create tiered levels.

Overview of Tiered Donut Stand Parts

Making a tiered stand is pretty basic – simple wood cutting, sanding, hole drilling and painting or staining. But what makes it all come together is using a few of these:


They are called Dowel Screws and can be bought at the home improvement store in the screws and nails aisle. You can also use wood dowels that perform the same function.

If you ever put a piece of IKEA furniture together, then I know you have seen and used these. :-) They come in various sizes for different sized projects and drilled holes. They are what attach the risers and tiers of the stand and keep them secure.

And if needed, the dowel screws also make it easy to take apart the donut stand for easy storage and transporting.

How to make a tiered donut wedding cake stand

I made the riser blocks between each tier 4-1/2″ high, but they can be as short as 3-1/2″ high for donuts. I made mine a little taller, just in case I want to use the donut stand again for another event to hold big muffins or cupcakes. This will ensure that there will be plenty of height for taller baked goods or even favors or craft items to sell.

For the riser blocks I wanted to find something simple and sturdy. We had this deck railing post in our scrap wood pile. It worked perfectly. If you don’t want to use a deck post, you can use cut sections of a tree trunk, thick dowels or cut blocks from a 2″ x 4″, or even chunky staircase balusters.

How to Make a DIY Tiered Donut Wedding Cake Stand Tutorial

If needed, this link is where you can print a .pdf copy of the instructions to make the tiered donut stand.

supplies needed:

  • Smooth 1/2″ thick plywood – See sizes to cut plywood below
  • 1 – 3-3/8″ x 3-3/8″ deck railing post
  • Saw
  • Sander
  • 100 and 220 grit sandpaper
  • Iron-On Wood Veneer Band Edge – 1 roll
  • Iron
  • 3 – 5/15″ x 3″ Dowel Screws
  • 6 – 2-1/2″ long wood screws
  • Drill and 2 drill bits. One narrow bit for the 3″ long wood screws and one that is slightly narrower than the dowel screws
  • T-Square or measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Paint or stain and sealer or shellac. I used two cans of white semi-gloss spray paint (Primer & Paint formula)

Cut plywood into 5 pieces that measure: 

  • 8″ x 8″
  • 12″ x 12″
  • 16″ x 16″
  • 20″ x 20″
  • 24″ x 24″

Cut deck railing post into 8 blocks:

  • Each block should be anywhere between 3-1/2″ to 4-1/2″ high. Mine are 4-1/2″ high.
  1. Once you have all the plywood cut into 5 squares and the blocks cut to height you need to sand them to smooth.

2. Use 100 grit sandpaper to start. Go over the entire surface on both sides of each square also the edge. Do the same for each wood block.

3. Once you have sanded the wood, go over again with 220 grit sandpaper to really smooth out the surface and edges of the wood.

4. Clean off sanding grit with a damp rag or tack cloth.

You can stain or prime and paint the boards and blocks before you assemble it. Make sure if painting to use a primer first then, paint or a spray paint that is a Paint & Primer in one formula.  This will block any tannins in the wood from seeping though the paint and discoloring the paint.

How to Create a Smooth Finished Edge on Plywood Boards

Bandit-Edge Veneer

This is the pre-glued iron-on banding edge I used, but there are many other brands that are just as good. I have the yellow trimmer, but you don’t really need it. A craft knife works just as well.

Top two pieces of plywood have iron-on wood veneer on them. The bottom two boards still have the raw edge.
Top two pieces of plywood have the iron-on wood veneer on them. The bottom two boards do not.
  1. The edges of plywood have a rough look where you can see the layers of the wood. I wanted my tiered donut stand to look a little more finished so I covered the edges with the Iron-On Wood Veneer Band Edge. It is so easy to use and worth adding. It is sold in the lumber section at the home improvement store. It comes in various woods and is one inch wide. When using it on a smaller width, you simply trim off the excess with the trimming edge tool or a craft knife.

2. Cut a piece of the veneer about a 1/2″ longer than the side of the edge you are covering. Place the piece about an 1/8″ past the corner and then use an hot iron to adhere it. It is that simple.  Repeat pressing the iron all the way down the veneer until it is attached.

This photo is from another project I made, but shows how to cut the veneer once it is applied to the edge of plywood.

3. Use the trimming tool or a craft knife to cut away the excess along the edge and corner.

4. Repeat on the other 3 sides of each square of plywood.

How to Assemble the Tiered Donut Stand

1. Find the center of each board and mark with a pencil.

how to make a donut cake stand for a wedding or party.

2. IMPORTANT: For the smallest and largest boards, drill these holes on the mark using the smaller drill bit for the 2-1/2″ long wood screws. For the three center of the donut stand boards, drill a hole on the mark using a drill bit that is large enough for a dowel screw to easily go through. Drill these hole all the way through to the underside of each board.

2. Do the same for each riser, but use a smaller drill bit as you just need to start these smaller holes so your 2-1/2″ long wood screws will go into the wood easier. Find center, make a mark and drill a hole that is about a half inch deep.

3. Attach feet first: At each corner of the largest board, measure 4″ in from each side and mark. Drill hole on mark through the wood. Repeat on the other 3 corners.

4. To attach the blocks for the feet: From the top side of the largest board, screw in a 2-1/2″ long wood screw so it comes out the bottom. 

5. Place a wood block over it, line up the screw tip with the hole and then turn the block on the screw until the block is flush with the board.

6. Repeat on the other 3 corners.

7. Flip board with feet so you can work from the underside. Attach a wood screw so the tip comes out on the top side of the board.

8. Flip the board back over and attach a riser block by turning the block over the tip of the screw until it is flush with the board.

9.  To attach the next few tiers and riser blocks you will need to use the dowel screws, not the wood screws

10. Place one end of a dowel screw into the pre-drilled hole on the block.  You want the dowel screw to be tight in the block and may need to use a pair of pliers to assist in turning it until the one end of the threads are in the wood.

11. It should look like this.

12. Place the next tier over the dowel screw so the end of the dowel screw comes out on top. Add the next riser block on to the top of the dowel screw.

13. Repeat this process for the next few tiers.

14. When you get to the top riser block, do not add a dowel screw.  Simply center the top (smallest board) over the center hole on the riser block and use a 2-1/2″ long wood screw and attach it from the top down.

How to Paint or Stain the Donut Stand

  • Use primer and paint, spray paint with primer, or wood stain. Seal with a water-based polyurethane for light colors of paint and shellac for stained wood.

Here is what the tiered donut stand will look like unpainted.

Since I was making the stand for the first time, I assembled it first to make sure my design plan would work. It did.

I ended up spray painting it, but once you have the boards and riser blocks cut, you can paint or stain them before assembling.

How Tall Is the Donut Stand When Assembled?

When assembled the donut stand is 25″ high.

How to Store or Transport a Tiered Donut Wedding Cake Stand

To get it to the wedding, I unscrewed the top screw and then removed all the boards, but left the dowel screws in each riser block.  I then removed all the wood screws since they are very easy to screw back in to assemble the donut stand.

Once we got to the wedding, I assembled the stand and we placed the donuts on. Having a power screwdriver makes this very easy.  We added flowers around the base and on the top tier. Donuts were on the 4 middle tiers.

Eating donuts at a wedding with a DIY tiered donut stand for a wedding or party in the background.

It was exactly what Kelly and Roger wanted and worth the time and effort to create something that made their wedding everything they hoped for.

Do you know anyone getting married that may want to make a tiered donut wedding cake stand? Or someone that is hosting a school fundraiser or holiday party?

Please share this post with them as it may give them an idea on how they can display food, crafts and more in way that will create a lot of impact.

My number one goal in writing posts like this is to inspire you to create and enjoy happy lives and homes. :-)

DIY wood donut stand on wedding reception table

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  1. Nicki Kerns says:

    This is just what I need for an upcoming event, but I need four of them! :-D Do you think 1/4 luan would work instead of the 1/2″ plywood? Asking because that would greatly reduce the stand’s weight. I know veneer trim doesn’t come in 1/4″ width, but I have a TON of satin ribbon and lace trim that I could hot glue around the edges instead. Thanks so much for this great idea!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nicki – 1/4″ plywood will work for the stand as long as what you are placing on it is not very heavy. The ribbon trim will look great.

  2. What a wonderful donut stand. Thanks for sharing the tutorial. I am curious about putting food on something painted. Did you seal it with something to make it food safe? Is the paint by itself ok? Did you use parchment paper?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Janet – The donut stand worked perfectly. I used semi-gloss paint on it and sealed it with Minwax Polycrylic. The paint had dried and cured for a few weeks before we used it so I was not worried about putting the donuts on the surface. There were no chips or flaking of the paint, It was intact and smooth. Also, it was only a few hours that the donuts were on the stand.

      If you would rather not place the donuts right on the painted/sealed surface, you could add another layer of protection. I would cut parchment paper or wax paper to fit each shelf and use glue dots to hold it down.

      I hope this helps you figure out the best way to proceed for your needs. Let me know if you have anymore questions.

  3. Joanne Miller says:

    Would 1/4″ wood be adequate?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Joanne – Yes, you could use 1/4″ thick plywood. I wouldn’t make each shelf any larger though than I made or place something heavy around the outside of each shelf.

  4. Excellent design, execution, and tutorial! Only one comment: do not use treated lumber on food-related or even any indoor projects. (I assumed that’s what it was when you said it was leftover deck railing. Most people use treated lumber for deck components.) Such lumber is treated with strong toxic chemicals to make it resistant to insects and wood rot. The chemicals leech out over many years.

    Otherwise, yours is a superb project. Super-detailed tutorial. (FYI, I surely don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but just want to share safety advice.)

  5. How many cupcakes do you think this would hold?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Linda – About a 100 cupcakes – maybe more if they are normal size cupcakes.

  6. Kamerin Peters says:

    Is there anyway I can buy 2 of these exactly like those?

    1. Kamerin Peters says:

      How tall is the stand after all done?

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Kamerin –

        I wanted to buy a donut stand myself, but couldn’t find one, so I made it myself. I don’t have any to sell. When assembled the stand is about 25″ high.

        1. Hi great idea and beautiful stand. Can you give an estimation on how much all the material costed?

          1. Diane Henkler says:

            Hi Lynn – Thanks – I think to make the stand was about $45, but I made the stand before the pandemic. Since then wood prices have gone up quite a bit. :-(

  7. Diane Henkler, Thank you for sharing the way

  8. Elizabeth H says:

    Love that your daughter and now son-in-law wanted a non-traditional wedding cake and you really came through. Amazing.

  9. Diane Donofrio says:

    Absolutely beautiful and of course because it was done with love. I love the flower arrangement on the bottom and top and how all the colors came together…Congratulations to the bride and groom…

  10. Donuts are a great idea for a wedding. So much easier to eat than cupcakes too. Beautiful display. Good job, mom (and dad.)

  11. How fun! I can think of many uses for this. This would be good for the guest tray you did too.

  12. Barbara Dudas says:

    Great post but am I the only one now craving a donut? Those donuts looked delicious! As usual a very clever solution.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Barb – Thanks – I would have never made it or even have known about the whole wedding donut thing if Kelly and Roger hadn’t told me about it. The donuts were from Duck Donuts. I think there are a few shops along the east coast. They were delish, especially the Bacon topped ones. :-)

  13. Deb Wostmann says:

    Thank you for a great idea. I was also wondering what you’d think of adding Wasi tape around the edges to perhaps tie into a theme? Would it adhere enough?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Deb – I think it would adhere well to the edges if you removed all the sanding dust really well from the surface of the plywood. If you paint the wood, Washi tape adheres fine to painted surface. Adding it would add a festive and colorful touch. :-)