The (wedding) cupcake stand turned out really well. It's designed to be easily altered. Click any image to enlarge it.
Here are the parts to the stand. The wood tiers are 28", 24", 20", 16", 12", and 8". There are two 10" tiers as well that can be used for a bigger top tier and for a foot.
Put a washer and nut at one end of a 1/2" threaded rod. The top (8" or 10") tier has a recessed center. Place that on the rod.
Build the stand upside-down. I used pvc couplers that are 4" tall to separate the tiers. I covered them with pretty paper but they could be left white, covered with fabric, tulle - whatever fits the event. Steve cut wood centering disks that fit inside the couplers to hold the coupler in place.
Add as many tiers and couplers as you want to.
End with the larger centering disk and a washer and nut. This centering disk fits into the large pvc coupler that I'm using for a foot in the photo below.
And there it is! The edges of the tiers can be left plain or covered with ribbon or strips of decorative paper. This configuration stands 29 1/2" tall and should hold LOTS of cupcakes. Celia, Rachel - I hope this is going to work for you!