DIY Furniture Studio

DIY Concrete Cake Stand or Centerpiece with a Changeable Base

One thing that drives how I design and build things is that I like to be able to change furniture and decor easily depending on style or purpose, if possible.  I like to leave options open.  So what this looks like is a cement side table that has removable legs rather than legs imbedded in the cement.  Or a pedestal bistro table that can easily be taken apart.  Along the same thought process, in this post I’ll show you how to make concrete (or cement) cake stands or centerpieces with bases that can be changed by simply removing one nut.  I especially appreciate this because the look can be changed in a snap for different occasions, such as seasonally, for a baby shower, or for a tablescape having a certain color theme like for a wedding.

DIY concrete centerpiece or cake stand with changeable base.

I used little hard-plastic dishes for the bases.  I found the colorful patterned ones at Target and some smaller white ones called “prep bowls” at Kroger.  Wooden bowls would also work well for this project.  For my concrete centerpieces, small bowls seemed to look better than larger standard-sized bowls.  In addition to choosing your base(s), you can also pick a mold for the concrete–round, rectangular, square, small, large–to get exactly what you want.  Isn’t DIY fun!  The molds I used were of the disposable cooking variety, such as aluminum loaf pans and pie tins, as well as plastic plates and serving trays.

PREPARING THE MOLDS AND BASES

Tools/Supplies:

Mark and drill a hole in the center of the bowl base.  Use a 14-20 drill bit (or slightly larger).  This is the trickiest part of the entire project.  In general, drill slowly with not too much pressure to minimize cracking.  Some plastics are easier to drill but tend to crack, whereas I found that melamine was harder to drill but didn’t crack.  I ended up “practicing” on a few.  Also, the drill bit tended to wander at the beginning of drilling a hole.  You can give it a little more pressure when you first start drilling–that may help.  But most of my center holes were not dead center and they look fine.

Next, drill a center hole in your concrete mold.  As the mold is thin plastic or aluminum, this will be a piece of cake for you!  Line up the two holes and get ready to put your bolt through.

Choose a 14-20 hex bolt that is long enough to stick about 34 of the way into your mold and about an inch into your base. The length of bolt that sticks into the base can even be much longer if needed for a certain base.  For instance, I am working on a centerpiece that has a bowl base at the bottom, then on top of that, a piece of tree branch.  So I need a longer bolt imbedded in the concrete to stick through the branch then into the bowl base.  Unfortunately, the base and branch I have don’t look that good together, so it’s a work-in-progress.  But for most of my cake stands/centerpieces, the bolt goes about an inch into the base.

Screw a hex nut on the bolt, then insert the bolt from the inside of the mold into the base. Adjust the nut so that the bolt protrudes about 34 of the way into the mold cavity.

Then from the base side, tighten a nut on the bolt against the base, finger tight. (Hold the top of the bolt in place while tightening the bottom nut or the top nut will ride up.)

MIXING AND POURING CEMENT

Tools/Supplies:

Spray the inside of the cones with cooking spray oil.  When working with concrete/cement wear a dust mask and gloves.

What I haven’t mentioned to you yet is that I colored the concrete for this project with colored sand.

In the finished stand/centerpiece, the color is subtle, just a hint of color that you might not even notice at first.  For the stand below, I used red and blue sand, which gave the concrete a slight purple color.

I started with anchoring cement (Rapid Set Cement All) and added colored sand to create my own concrete mix.  You can skip the sand and use straight anchoring cement. Or you can add regular sand, not colored.  I used a ratio of 3 parts cement to one part colored sand.  I think you can go with a much higher ratio of sand, but I didn’t because I wanted more subtle colors and also the sand, which I got at Hobby Lobby is much more expensive than cement, and I wanted to keep the cost lower.

A rough estimate of the total amount of dry cement and sand (or just cement if not using sand) needed to make a batch that will fill a mold is to start with 1 and a half volumes of the mold of cement/sand.  So fill your mold with dry cement/sand (at a 3:1 ratio) and put this in a mixing bowl, then fill your mold halfway with dry cement/sand and put it in the mixing bowl.  Add water and mix.  I used a gloved hand to mix, but you can use a spoon or similar.

Another option is to first fill your mold with stones before adding cement/sand.  I bought some white stones at Dollar Tree.  If you are using stones like I did, use about 1 volume of cement/sand instead of 1.5 to start.  The stones take up space in the mold so not as much cement/sand is needed.  These amounts are estimates to get you in the ballpark.  Add water to make a thin concrete mix (like runny pudding), and be sure to tap the mold after you add concrete to remove air bubbles and help distribute the concrete around the rocks.

The white rocks give the finished casting a bit of texture.

Here is a picture of molds ready for casting.  I didn’t add stones to these.  Note the three cups at the top of the photo.  I have these oiled up and on hand in case I have leftover cement/concrete.  I put the leftovers in these and make DIY tealight candle holders.

This is a photo of some castings that are curing.

I usually leave these to cure at least 12 hours, and up to a day to be safe (if I can keep my hands off of them).  When it is time to take them out of the molds, turn the castings over, and then unscrew the nut on the underside of the base.  The mold should easily pop off.  After this, replace the base and screw the nut back in.

I broke off thin pieces of concrete at the edges.

Done!  Enjoy!

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