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Dowel cutting - a photo example

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
THere have been lots of threads and discussions on how to cut dowels; the debate being should each dowel be measured and cut separately .... meaning should you insert 4 dowels into the cake and mark the height on each and then cut each one to their mark? Or should one dowel be used to measure and all other dowels be cut the same size as that one .... meaning one dowel is inserted into the cake, measured and marked, then all 4 dowels are cut to that same length.

On the cake I made this past weekend, I had a real low point in the cake. I do the "insert one and use it to measure all" system and when I put the 4 cut dowels into the cake, one of them stood about 1/4" taller than the others. Now 1/4" is a lot of height when wanting to make sure a cake is level, so I took a plastic plate and set it on top of the dowels and check the level.....it was perfect! So I thought this would be a good example to photograph and share.

The 2nd pic (sorry....I added them in the wrong order!) is the photo showing the dowels sticking up out of the cake at different heights. The dowels are the same size ... .it's the cake that has low points.

The 1st photo is the finished cake ... all tiers perfectly level.

Had I measured, marked and cut each dowel separately, my cake would have leaned and not been level.

Before leahs reminds me of the SPS system, allow me to say for the record that when I convert to SPS, I won't have to worry about doing this! icon_wink.gif

Oops! Edited to add the photos!
LL
LL
post #2 of 30
wheres the pics? and what is SPS?
Religion is meant to be bread for daily use, not cake for special occasions
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Religion is meant to be bread for daily use, not cake for special occasions
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post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 
I had to edit to add the pics (hit the Submit button instead of the Add Attachment button!). then I had to reduce the size of the pics before I could add them. Good thing I'm a little more organized when I actually MAKE the cakes! icon_redface.gificon_redface.gif

Here's a thread where leahs explains SPS: http://forum.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-383553-dowel.html
post #4 of 30
I learned this lesson the hard way...

Beeeauteeeful cake Debi!
Karen

Each day we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.
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Karen

Each day we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.
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post #5 of 30
How would this of worked if you measured it from a high point and it was lower around the edge where the plate sat? Would if of made a gap? Thanks........................... I usually measure each one individually, I think this would work better.
post #6 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by debster

How would this of worked if you measured it from a high point and it was lower around the edge where the plate sat? Would if of made a gap? Thanks........................... I usually measure each one individually, I think this would work better.



Actually, I did measure from the high point ... the one I measured by is the front left one. The cake was higher there and I cut the dowel even with the cake. The other dowels are in lower points of the cake, which is why they stick up.

If I had measured each one individually, the one in the back right would have been 1/4" shorter than it should have been. When I sat the cake on top of these 4, then the back right corner would have leaned by 1/4". A small discrepancy of only 1/4" on a lower tier results in the higher tiers looking like they are leaning even more.

Unless you know that your CAKE is perfectly level, I don't see how measuring/cutting each one can work. icon_confused.gif In this example, the front right dowel is (for example) 4.25" tall. Had I done each one individually, the back right one would have been only 4.00" tall. No way a cake can be level with those kind of measurements.
post #7 of 30
what if the one you chose to measure and cut the others against was the one in the low point of the cake.. then all the others would be very very short and mooch the cake down?

should I mark all of them and them cut against the tallest?
Princesses wear crowns to remind them that they are beautiful and special because some days it's easy to forget.
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Princesses wear crowns to remind them that they are beautiful and special because some days it's easy to forget.
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post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 
Yes, it would. I've done that and when I saw how far down the dowels were in the cake, I've re-cut them, using the high point as the point of reference.
post #9 of 30
Ok - so you are saying to measure one dowel in the cake and then cut all the rest the EXACT same height as the dowel you measured in the cake? icon_redface.gif I'm sorry, I just got confused!! This is how I do it, on a wedding cake it left a lot of space in the back but it was easy to cover up with a border. So if this is the way to go - should the first dowel be measured in the high or low part of the cake?

I'm going back to read through the thread again - maybe I will get it this time! LOL icon_lol.gif
post #10 of 30
So as I was typing it looks like my questions were answered! Thanks, I was doing it correctly - I was worried for a minute!LOL!

Your cake looks beautiful!

And yes, I too am looking into the SPS system!
post #11 of 30
THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! I had a lot of problem with a cake recently because of this! But I didn't know what I did wrong! I had checked the level of each layer and the cake still was leaning! It was probably because of this!! I will try your way next time debi!! Yeah!
post #12 of 30
Thread Starter 
Since I had a border on this one (and it can be done with ribbon-border-bases, too), it was easy to fill the small gap with the border. Much better to fill in a border than to try to fix a leaning cake. thumbs_up.gif

Carson....ideally, of course, would be to try to get them as close to the level of the icing as possible. On some, I've had them "slightly" below the surface with one "slightly" above the surface. The slightly-below one allowed the cake to settle "into" the cake by a 1/8" or 1/4" or so, but nothing that damaged the cake or the look.

This one was SUCH a difference in height that it caught my attention and when I check the level and found it was perfect, I thought it was be a good pictorial example of this topic, since it is brought up and asked so frequently.
post #13 of 30
Oh! that was what I forgot to add to my "Things I learned" post!! On my initial attempts my second, third, etc. dowels were coming out too short. Then I realized how important the position of the saw blade was and that I had to allow for the width of the saw blade. I couldn't place my blade right on the marked line or the width of the saw would cut it too short. I had to place my blade just to the (long) side of the line. If they were a smidge too long, I could sand them down so they were level with the first dowel by rubbing them on a sanding block. On the cake I did this weekend the dowels were level, but the cake wasnt, just like indydebi's original post. I just used the high side as the front. If there was a gap it was covered with my border.
Alana
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Alana
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post #14 of 30
I've learned to keep a seam gauge (sewing tool) in my cake stuff drawer to use when I will be inserting dowels into a stacked cake. I insert the gauge in all four corners of the cake, or in 4 seperate places on a round cake and then cut my dowels to the height of the lowest measurement. I also use pruning shears to cut my dowel rods--works great and easier to get uniform cuts on the dowels!
Diane
Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten.
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Diane
Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten.
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post #15 of 30
Wow, another great help thread, indydebi. icon_biggrin.gif

Will be adding this to my list of "keepers"! icon_cool.gif

Thanks all, this info will be very helpful to a lot of members. thumbs_up.gif
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