Use boards the same size as tiers, or if tiers are shaped, cut boards to fit. Make a waxed paper pattern for each tier except the top tier in order to find the exact center for the columns. Fold the waxed paper pattern in quarters. Snip the point to make a center hole. Test the hole for size by slipping it over a column, adjust size if necessary. Trace hole pattern on prepared cake board and cut out. Also cut a hole in the top tier board to allow for the column cap nut. Save patterns for marking cakes later.
The base tier of the cake will rest on a 14, 16 or 18 in. plate, all of which are included in the Wilton Basic Tall Tier Cake Stand Set. The 18 in. plate is footed; you will need to attach glue on plate legs (not included in the set) to the 14 or 16 in. plates. To attach legs, turn plate upside down. Using extra-strength glue designed for plastic, attach the six legs, positioning the legs over each of the ribs on the plate.
Prepare and ice tiers positioned on prepared cake boards. Make the center holes in two lower tiers for the columns. Mark the top of the cakes with the corresponding waxed paper pattern. Cut the hole by pressing the cake corer through the tier right down to the bottom. Hold the corer upright, remove cake corer and push the upper part down to eject the cake center.
Attach a 7 3/4 in. column to the prepared base plate with the bottom column bolt from underneath the plate. Slip the bottom tier over the column to rest on the plate. Set a plate that is one size smaller than plate below on top of the column.
Add a second 7 3/4 in. column and position the next tier on the plate, slipping it over the column. Finally, add a plate one size smaller than the previous plate, securing with top column nut. Place the top tier on the plate. Mark the backs of all tiers with a dot of icing as a guide when setting up at the reception.
To create the "Lady Windermere" look with 4 cakes surrounding the center column, simply replace the footed base plate and its 7 3/4 in. column with a Wilton Four Arm Base and the 13 1/2 in. column. Insert the four spacers into the openings on the underside of the base at the end of the arms. These spacers will keep the base level once the column and the base bolt are added. Glue the spacers in place. Position four identical base cakes on 10 or 12 in. plates, then add desired tiers upward (up to 3 graduated sizes can be added to the center columns).