I wanted to spruce up my desk a bit so I decided to replace my tape dispenser. I made this one mainly from stuff laying around my shop. The base is made from a combination of maple and cherry wood, with steel BBs added into cavities to add weight. The taper cutter is made from an old bandsaw blade and the spindle is made from a combination of maple and an old drill-bit.
It was a fun project to build, even thought there were some troubles along the way. If you follow this guide I will show you where I went wrong and what to do so that you don't have to repeat my mistakes.
Below are some links to supplies and tools, they are either the exact product I used, or if amazon doesn't carry them, I have linked to something very similar.
- Pieces of scrap wood (the wood I used in this video was approximately 9"x3"1 and I used two pieces that size)
- Bandsaw (a bandsaw is the best option here to re-saw the wood in half, but there are other ways of doing it)
- Old bandsaw blade
- 15/64 drill bit (and a spare old one same size)
- Belt Sander
- Wood finish (I used Watco Teak Oil, but there are many great wood finishes available)
Note: The links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
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Step 1: Prepare the Wood
For this project I took two small bits of scrap wood that I had in my pile. The maple (light coloured wood) was approximately 9"x3"x1". The cherry (darker wood) was approximately the same size, but a bit longer. As I wanted the two-tone look of having cherry on the outside I needed to first re-saw (cut down the edge) the cherry.
I did this on my bandsaw. I set the distance between the blade and the fence to half the thickness of the board. I then cut down the middle.
To clean up the marks left by the bandsaw, and to ensure the pieces were the same thickness I used my thickness planer. I set it to 1/64" below the height of the thickest piece and ran it through. I kept making passes on the planer until all of the bandsaw marks were gone. This left me with pieces of cherry that were approximately 3/8" thick.
If you do not have these tools, you could buy wood that is the correct dimensions from your local lumber yard.
Step 2: Draw the Design for the Middle Piece and Cut It Out
Using a roll of tape as a guide I drew out the design I wanted for the middle piece . I also referenced a store bought tape dispenser to get a good idea of the shape. The design marking was done free hand. That being said, the main point to take into consideration is the depth of the roll of tape, you need to make sure there is sufficient room for the tape to fit in. The other point to consider is how much of a "landing zone" do you want for your tape. The landing zone is where the tape will land after it is cut, it needs a certain amount of space to stick after the tape has been cut, so don't go to skinny there.
I then cut out the shape on the bandsaw. In a later step the shape will be refined with sanding, so if you are outside of the lines a bit that is alright, it can be fixed later.
Other tools could be used to cut out the curved pieces, such as a jigsaw or coping saw it just might be more difficult. Use what tools you have, just be safe!
Step 3: Drill Holes to Make Cavities for the BBs
In order to add weight to the tape dispenser I added steel BBs. I did this by using a forstner bit to drill cavities in the middle piece.
Keep in mind that you don't want to go to close to the edge in case you want to trim your design down later (this was a mistake I made)
If you want to replicate the "design element" I have in mine of epoxy and BBs displayed at the front, drill a cavity with the forstner bit hanging over the edge of the piece of material.
This is also a good time to sand the curved parts of the middle piece. Once it is glued up you will not be able to sand all of the parts very easily. I forgot to do this, which is why I do not have a picture to show it happening. Trust me, it is a lot easier to sand at this point.
Step 4: Design the Exterior Pieces and Cut Them Out
I first place the middle piece on one of the exterior pieces and trace out the front and back of the design, but skip the part where the roll of tape will go as this will be different.
I then use a roll of tape as a guide to get the center location for the tape. In order for the roll of tape to be held in the air, you need to ensure the design encompass the center location of the roll. I join the front and back with a curved line.
I head over to the bandsaw and cut out one of the pieces. I then trace out this design on the second piece and cut out the second piece on the bandsaw.
You could also stack the pieces together to cut them out at the same time, if you are so inclined.
Step 5: Mark the Recesses for the Spindle
I placed the roll of tape in the correct location on the exterior piece of wood, with the middle piece as a guide.
I measured the approximate location for the spindle. Using a speed square, I transferred the measurements to the the exterior pieces of wood, ensuring I used the same measuring points (front and bottom) on both exterior pieces of wood.
I then drew an "L" shape to show where the recess would be and to show where the material needed to be removed. Make sure the lower part of the "L" points to the front of your tape dispenser on both sides.
It is very important to get the two exterior pieces to have the same markings on them. If not the tape will not roll properly.
Step 6: Make the Recesses for the Spindle
I used a 1/4" forstner bit to remove the majority of the material. In order to do this, you need to set the stop on your drill press so that you will only drill through about half of the material. Then drill out the material ensuring to stay within your markings.
After the majority of the material is removed, I used a chisel to clean up the recess and make all of the lines straight.
This entire process could be done with just a chisel, but I prefer to use power tools where-ever practical.
Step 7: Glue the Pieces Together
The glue up is usually one of the more stressful times of the build, but not so in this case. I added glue to one side of the middle piece, spread it around and placed it on one of the exterior pieces.
I then added BBs to the cavities. (If you are planning on doing a feature piece that we discussed earlier, don't add BBs to the cavity that is open on one edge, this will be filled later)
Lastly, I added glue to the other side of the middle piece and spread it around to ensure good coverage. I added the last exterior piece and put the assembly in clamps to dry.
Step 8: Refine the Shape
After removing the tape dispenser from the clamps, I cut off some extra bits of wood using my bandsaw and then did some sanding to refine the shape of the tape dispenser.
I used a combination of a spindle sander set up on my drill press to get the curved areas. A piece of sandpaper stuck to a flat surface to get the bottom perfectly flat and my random orbit sander anywhere else that needed to be refined.
Finish sanding will happen in a later step, so I only used 60 grit sandpaper at this stage.
Step 9: Adding BBs and Epoxy Feature (Optional)
This step only happened because I forgot where the BBs were located and ended up cutting into one of the cavities when I was refining the shape. So make sure not cut to much off in the refinement step. To make the best of the bad situation, I added epoxy and BBs into the cavity to act as a design feature.
After it was cured, I took it over to the belt sander and sanded the front smooth.
Make sure you do not do this with lead BBs, as the dust from lead is dangerous.
Step 10: Make the Spindle (Part A: the Wood Part)
Using an 11/64" drill bit I cut into a scrap bit of Maple.
I then traced out the shape from my store bought tape dispenser and cut that out on the bandsaw.
I refined the shape using my belt sander until it fit snugly into a roll of tape.
Step 11: Make the Spindle (Part B: the Metal Part)
I used the same size drill bit from the previous step (11/64") and cut the end off using my rotary tool with a cut off disk. My spindle shaft ended up being just under 1 1/4", but you should measure the distance between your recesses to ensure its the correct length.
I then rounded over the edge on my bench grinder (this could also be done with a file) and put the drill bit into the hole in the wooden part. It is a perfect fit because the hole was drilled with the same sized drill bit.
Step 12: Making the Tape Cutter
I used an old 1/2" bandsaw blade for this step. If you don't have a bandsaw blade, I am sure other tool blades could work (i.e. jigsaw) and I have seen other people use a serated knife, so be creative! You could also use the cutter from a store bought tape dispenser, but it is more fun to make your own.
I cut out a piece approximately 1" long using my rotary tool and a cut off disk. (I made it the same size as the thickness of the middle piece of maple)
I then cut out a second section approximately 1"x1/4" that will sit on the top, just behind the tape cutter, in the tape "landing zone". I found that the wood did not have sufficient sticking power to hold the tape after it was cut. By adding this small bit of metal, it made it work much better.
Step 13: Add a Recess for the Cutter
I wanted to have the cutter sit flush with the tape dispenser, so I had to make a recess for it to sit in.
I held up the cutter piece where I wanted it and marked the area I wanted to remove. I used a chisel to remove material. First I used the chisel to mark the outside edges by placing the sharp edge on the line and tapping on the chisel. I then placed the chisel with the bevel down and pushed and tapped away at the material to remove it. I went slowly and checked the depth often as it is very difficult to add wood back after you have taken it off.
I also chiseled out some material in the "landing zone" area so that it was a little bit lower than the exterior pieces. I did this so that the exterior pieces would act as a guide for the tape.
Step 14: Glue the Cutter in Place
I mixed up some 5 minute epoxy and put a dab on the pack of the cutter. I put in place and added some blue masking tape to hold it until the epoxy cured.
I also put a dab of epoxy on the "landing zone" piece and just let gravity hold it in place.
Step 15: Finish Sanding
In order for the wood to take the finish and look really nice, it needs to be sanded. The more time you spend on this step, the nicer a finished product you will get. I used a combination of my orbital sander and a flexible hand sanding disk. I used the following grits: 80, 120, 180, 220.
I then wet the wood down by spraying it with water. This raises the grain in the wood.
After letting the wood dry, I sanded again with 220.
Step 16: Add Finish
My favourite part of any project is adding finish. I chose to use Watco Teak Oil as I like the way it brings the colour out of the cherry wood, but there are many great finishes out there so choose what you want and follow the directions on the can.
For the Watco Teak Oil, it is a very simple finish. Wipe on a coat of the oil, wait 15 minutes and then wipe off any excess. Repeat at least one more time, or more if you so desire.
Step 17: Add Anti-Slip Pads to the Bottom
The final step is to add anit-slip pads. This really helps to keep the tape dispenser in place when you pull on the tape.
I used a 1 1/2" forstner bit in my drill press to drill two shallow holes approximately 2 inches from either end. I then added some Scotch brand gripping pads. They are sticky back pads, so I just put them in the holes and pressed them down firmly.
I did this step after applying finish to ensure that the pads would stick. The oil finish would likely cause the pads to not stick.
Step 18: Enjoy!
And now for the best part, enjoying your project! Wrap a present, or just sit it on your desk and stare at it, it's up to you.
If you make one of these, I would love to see it in the comments below and I am always happy to answer any questions.
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