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Sure, the cake aisle holds many wonderful and necessary tools for cake decorating. However, sometimes we need to think outside of the box and escape the confinements of those shallow shelves. That’s right, step back slowly, turn around and explore! You’ll be astonished with what useful and fun ideas will come flooding in. I’m here to show you some of my absolute favorite tools, make-shift and hacked! I hope you can find them as useful as I have. Here are my Top 10 Tools Not Found in the Cake Aisle…

[Note: All tools are up to your personal discretion in terms of food safety. Please use new tools, never mix with other art mediums and always sanitize prior to use.]

Egg Cartons

eggcartons

Egg cartons are great sugar flowers forms! Be sure to not use the paper ones, for safety sake with eggs. Styrofoam or plastic ones work best. Be sure to sanitize prior to use!

 Produce Pulp Trays

 apple

Produce pulp trays (these are for apples) can be found at your local grocery store! It may require a call to the produce department and ask them to put their pulp trays aside, instead of into the garbage. I promise it’s worth your while for this perfect sugar flower petal form. Doing a ton of flowers?! Find them in bulk here ( large packs of 150, but only for about $25).

Clay Tools

claytools

There are two areas I MUST check out every time I’m at the hobby store. The more obvious, cake aisle, but then I dart straight over to the clay section! You can find a wonderful assortment of different shaped tools perfect for sugar modeling! I suggest sticking with the plastic/metal tools, they are much easier to sanitize. You can also find an array on Amazon, like here and here.

Make-Up Brushes

makeupbrush

Make-up brushes come in all different shapes, sizes and textures making them perfect for your sugar needs. Perfect tool for dusting sugar flowers with petal dusts. Also great at sweeping away that pesky left over powdered sugar left behind on your cake!

–    Great for icing extra tall tiers.

–    Wonderful for achieving straight lines in fondant/modeling chocolate.

–    My favorite way to use it? To quickly clean my counter top of cake crumbs, fondant, etc!

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Herb Cutter

herb cutter

Ran into this “little miracle” on a small rack next to the herbs in the product department of the grocery store. It was love at first sight. I wrapped it up in my arms and called it baby. You can find it in plenty of local stores, or skip it and find it here.

–      Great for cutting quick, thin lines of fondant/gumpaste/modeling chocolate.

–      Great for texturing fondant.

Nylons

nylon

Now now, we all know nylons go on our feet.. not our head, not on our cake…..wait…yes! Put them on your cake! Confused? Let me explain. Take a [brand spankin new, fresh out of the box] nylon and fill it with powdered sugar. Tie a knot on the end. Now you have the PERFECT powdered sugar dispenser. It’s a MUST HAVE BY MY SIDE AT ALL TIMES tool.

–      Pounce the puff on your counter for a even fine layer of powdered sugar to roll your fondant/gumpates/modeling chocolate out on.

–      Extremely helpful when creating sugar flowers! When thinning your petals with a ball tool, tap the ball tool on the puff first and greatly reduce any sticky problems.

 

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Pasta Machine

blogavaloncakespasta

Can’t afford a $3,500 fondant sheeter? Get yourself a handy dandy Pasta Machine! Well, sure, this isn’t a replacement, per-say, for a giant sheeter. But, it is a super handy tool to have in your arsenal. I found my hand crank Pasta Machine at a TJ-Max for $12. You can find them at many local stores or here [I suggest getting one that clamps to your counter]. You can even upgrade to one with a motor and leave the hand crank behind!

–     Achieve consistent thickness in fondant/modeling chocolate decor. A must have for stripes, lettering, ruffles, etc.

–     A great way to get super thin gumpaste for your sugar flowers.


Acupuncture Needles

acupuncutre needles for cake

You know those pesky bubbles that show up in your fondant EVERYTIME. Without a doubt, you can’t cover a cake without at least one of those little buggers. You then take a “pin” to it and yet small, it still leaves a bit of a eye-sore hole. Not a fan. THEN I found acupuncture needles! Hello little holes just big enough to let air out, yet small enough not to be visible to the eye!

Promise, they are totally worth it.

I get the .16mm size.

Find them here!

Sewing Gauge Tool

This tool was born out of desperation. Pure, utter, desperation. I created this when I first starting decorating cakes. I had just begun working at a bakery that required perfection, and I was coming up short! I couldn’t get a level straight edge on a buttercream cake to save my life. I struggled and struggled for weeks, it literally kept me up at night. And then one night, my restless brain switched on that light bulb, and *DING*, it came to me! So the next day, I created this tool and tried my out my theory, it worked like a charm! I found other uses for it too (see below)! This bad boy saved my bum. It requires a little bit of assembly, but I promise it’s worth it!

[Note: I know this looks like it’s a hack of that Wilton too, but I promise you, I came up with it first! haha! This tool is not only cheaper, but more accurate and handy for the techniques I will show you!]

 What it’s perfect for:

–        Make Perfect Sharp Edges on Cakes!

–        Creating guides for horizontal stripes, ruffles, and other decor – Using a turntable, put prepared cake in the center. Adjust sewing gauge tool to desired height. Gently press needle against cake, hold steady in place. Move your turntable, while keeping tool firmly in place, and watch the needle glide a perfect horizontal line across you cake.

–       Great for measuring distances between two objects. Great for replicating a distance between two objects.

Want to learn how to make this tool?!

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37 Comments
  1. Amber 3 years ago

    I agree 1000%. Love all of them. Though I don’t think I have utilized the foam egg crate yet. I need to! And ASAP! Great blog Avalon and cake-atiers! xoxo

  2. Shawna McGreevy 3 years ago

    You = fabulous. Just in case there’s SOMEONE out there who doesn’t already know it.

  3. Cristina Cordero 3 years ago

    Nice tips! Thank you! 🙂

  4. Mandy Long 3 years ago

    Some great ideas here! My best non-sugar tool is a needle tool. I think it’s used for quilting, but it’s like a long thick needle on a handle. I use it for all kinds of things, for making ‘eye holes’, adding details to sugar work and for getting small pieces of fondant out of moulds and the tips of icing nozzles.

  5. Patricia Baldwin 3 years ago

    I loved this site. Found it so interesting and exciting! As a new cake decorator I can’t wait to start using these tools!

  6. Verónica López 3 years ago

    Amazing tools

  7. Tanya Singleton 3 years ago

    Awesome tips, thanks!

  8. Barbara Greenwell 3 years ago

    Wonderful tips!

  9. Carol 3 years ago

    One of my favorite tools comes from the Dollar Tree Store. I bought a plastic lettuce knife and use it to cut pieces of fondant to the size I need out of the big bucket.

  10. Bianca 3 years ago

    I use single hole punches and shaped punches with fondant paper ALL the time. They make the eyes or polka dots on my cake pops, or I use them to cut out logos for corporate orders. I couldn’t live without punches and fondant paper!! 😀

  11. Denise T. 3 years ago

    What a great blog about using non-cake tools in cake/cupcake production. Wonderful ideas!

  12. Christy 3 years ago

    I’ve used several of these on the list, you never know where you’re going to find a cheaper, useful tool! Tracing wheels used for marking patterns are a great way to get a stitched look on fondant. Its uniform and fast!

  13. Sally Guth 3 years ago

    Love these non-cake-cake tools!

  14. Julie Hatley 3 years ago

    Wow, I already use about half of these! And I always go ti the pottery/clay section of the craft store, cause they have great tools that are way less expensive. And I have a few of my own not listed here. The plastic mats can be found at the dollar tree too, a two pack.

  15. cindy 3 years ago

    oh my gosh, i couldn’t believe my eyes when i was scrolling through fb and saw your the sewing gauge with the pearl head pin like mine. i made it a couple years ago and it too has saved my sanity. great minds think alike. thank you for sharing,

  16. Melanie Pitt 3 years ago

    Great advice, and stuff I would never have thought of *heads straight out to buy them all* Thank you for sharing your tips with us.

  17. Dunia McMaster 3 years ago

    great tips thank you. just anothe tip — when using apple or other fruit trays – cover with tin foil, works very well and the trays don’t have to be sterelized coz you don’t know where they been! 🙂

  18. Avalon Cakes 3 years ago

    How cool!! Great minds to think alike! <3

  19. Avalon Cakes 3 years ago

    Great tip!!

  20. Christine Stephens 3 years ago

    Thank you Thank you for sharing your knowledge! Brilliant ideas all around!

  21. Cristy 3 years ago

    There some wonderful ideas here.

  22. Leticia Anguiano 3 years ago

    Thank you so much for the time you have spent into sharing such wonderful. Time saving information and tips…Thank you 🙂

  23. Kathryn Kimmey 3 years ago

    Great information thanks for sharing

  24. Eileen 3 years ago

    I noticed that you list “Paint Shield.” I previously read that a paint spackler was great for getting smooth buttercream sides. I bought a new one, washed it thoroughly, tried it, and it worked *perfectly.* However, while I thought I had a stainless steel product, the spackler started to discolor/rust right away, and it almost appeared to have a coating of some sort. I threw it out after one cake. Any suggestions regarding a paint shield or paint spackler that is safe to use with foods?

  25. Em 3 years ago

    The herb cutter is genius! And the sewing gauge hack was probably what gave Wilton the idea! LOL

  26. That is a really good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Short but very precise info… Thank you for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

  27. Catherine 3 years ago

    I have a 6 quart KitchenAid Pro. The lasagna pasta attachment rolls out wonderful fondant when it needs to be very thin. I have also discovered that clear plastic, the kind that grandma sometimes draped over furniture, makes a fantastic countertop cover. Fondant and gumpaste does not stick to it and you can move your fondant from place to place or cover it with sheets of plastic to help keep the moisture in. I live in Wyoming where the air is very dry so I have difficulty keeping our fondant moist while working it. I also love the quilters ruler. I use it with the quilters cutting mat and the rotary cutting tool they are awesome when cutting strips of fondant or making corners.

  28. Avalon Cakes 3 years ago

    Great tips!! Love me some vinyl for keeping things fresh! Thanks for sharing <3

  29. Cristy 3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing and saving me time.

  30. joanne Bibby 3 years ago

    Love these ideas I use an egg cup ( upside down!) when modelling faces!

  31. LisaThayerThompson 3 years ago

    These are fantastic, what a great way to utilize so many different unexpected tools, your site is also fantastic.

  32. Wendy Bach 3 years ago

    Yes! Pick me!

  33. […] may remember this little handy tool from our “Favorite Tools Not Found in the Cake Aisle” blog post! However, I decided it needed a nice fancy schmancy upgrade! Simple enough, I […]

  34. Jacqui Jacskon 3 years ago

    Great helpful tips ty or sharing them

  35. […] sugar (I prefer putting it in nylon sock, shown here but a regular sifter will […]

  36. […] ok before I hop off the stripe cutter train, let me also just tell you about a special cake tool that you won’t find in the cake aisle. Ready? HERB CUTTERS. These guys cut strips as long as you need them with a simple swipe! […]

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