Chris Schwarz's Blog

Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 2: Tape Dispenser

You might think I’m kidding. I am absolutely not. This year, a tape dispenser for my blue tape is the nicest thing I’ve added to my shop.

Like many woodworkers, I use blue painter’s tape for many tasks, from taping down small repairs to marking out joinery to shimming things square. For years I simply pulled it off the roll. You know the drill: Find the end of the tape, get a fingernail under it, pinch the end, pull, rip.

With a tape dispenser I work about five times faster. You might be rolling your eyes at this point. If you are, then just stop reading. The rest of us know that a dispenser is a huge improvement.

You need a heavy one with a grippy base. I shopped around and found mine at Staples. It will hold only one roll. Now I’m on the hunt for a heavy vintage one like we had in the newspaper productions shop I worked for four years. It would hold three rolls. That way I can have blue tape, sellotape and regular masking tape.

— Christopher Schwarz

  • To read past entries from this guide (and from former years), click here.

13 thoughts on “Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 2: Tape Dispenser

  1. Tacoma Joe

    Chris, check Fisher Scientific. As a chemist working in a lab, we have multi-roll dispensers loaded with labeling tape in different colors. The tape isn’t suitable for woodworking as it’s very sticky and leaves a residue, but the dispensers are heavy and Fisher Scientific carries them. The other major lab supply company, VWR, porobably does as well. For something as innocuous as a tape dispenser, you should be able to buy it. But for a price $$$. Also Amazon sells a Scotch 2 roll heavy duty dispenser for 3” core tape rolls (C-22), weighted w/non-slip base.

  2. DLawson

    Yes! I use wide packing tape for many non-packing uses (I live with 3 cats). I keep meaning to track down a desk dispenser for it like shipping places have.

    My wife is used to odd sounding gift requests (like my beloved spill plane).

  3. SATovey

    Building one shouldn’t be a problem with an experienced woodworker like yourself.
    Design it with a bottom compartment for weighted material.
    That along with a rubber non skid bottom should will keep it in place.

  4. Farmer Greg

    Of course. Although there hasn’t been a really good tape dispenser made since the close of the Korean War. Fortunately, excellent user-grade examples abound on the second-hand market. Look for those manufactured by the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. (St. Paul, Minn.), especially between the years of 1936 and 1949. (To learn how to identify these, consult one of the many type studies available on the the World-Wide Web.) Be warned: on-line auctions can be a crap shot. Buying in person is best. Be sure to bring a straight edge with you to check the truth of the working surfaces, or be prepared to spend hours at the lapping table to correct them. Especially check to make sure the body of the dispenser is not warped or twisted. Such units can never be made to work satisfactorily. Happy hunting!

  5. Sullivans Papa

    Several years ago, I owned and operated a quick print shop and one of the mainstays was a weighted three roll 3M tape dispenser. Most of the old layout tools are gone but I wisely held unto my tape dispenser. With one hand I can pull a length of blue, cellophane or two sided tape!

  6. Mitch Wilson

    Ooh, yeah, I’ll need to build that. For the different widths of blue tape and one for the green tape I use, also. You can never have too much painter’s tape.

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