When I first started stacking I used wooden dowels .. but those are equally annoying to cut… when I learned of the bubble straws I stuck with them… never had an issue yet ( knock on wood)… I too insert my first straw and pinch it where it meets the top of the cake … take it out and use it for measuring the rest of my straws. I only use 4 under an 8’ and 2-3 under a 6’ .. HTH
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