Studio Roller / Kraft Paper Dispenser

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About: I'm a woodworker/maker on YouTube

This is a great weekend project to add a writing space to the home or office. It uses simple joinery (although you can be a bit more fancy if you'd like) and the construction is quite straight forward.

All you're going to need is a single board roughly 19mm thick and, depending on the length of your paper roll, somewhere around 1200mm long. In my case I was working with a 600mm roll, so I needed that, plus 2 sides of 200mm and then some extra length to account for the joinery. Most home centres stock pine boards that are 1.2 meters long, 19mm thick, and around 200mm wide. That would work perfect for this.

You'll also need an 8mm dowel, 1.2 meters long, and a 19mm dowel also 1.2 meters long.

I have a video of the construction here:

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Step 1: Cut the Boards

This is the board that I'm using, you can get an idea of how big it needs to be. This is a type of edge laminated wood but you could just as easily use a piece of solid wood.

Cut the length of wood into 3 parts, 1 long piece and 2 short sides. On the side pieces I cut an angle at the front. This isn't strictly necessary but it gives it a nice look and the majority of the commercial rollers I saw had this same shape.

In the last image you can see how all the parts come together.

Step 2: Join the Side Panels

The next step is to join the side panels. This can be as complicated or simple as you want. Screws would also work, and it's one of the easiest methods, but in my case I decided to use dowels.

I started by drilling 4 holes into the side panels, just short of going right through the panels. This was done on a drill press. Then, using dowel centre points, I pressed the sides against the back panel and found where the mating holes should be drilled. I then took the back panel over to a vice and drilled through.

Dowels are a great option for hiding the joinery. I was going to varnish the piece so this was a good option.

Step 3: Drill Holes for Paper Roll and Paper Guide

Before gluing the side panels to the back you'll need to drill 2 extra holes.

The first is an 8mm hole towards the back and bottom of the side panels. This will keep the paper pressed against the backing as it feeds off the roll. We'll be using a plywood backing panel between the paper and the wall so be sure to account for that.

You'll also need a hole for the rod that holds the paper roll. The rod is 19mm so I used a 38mm hole saw which gives the rod enough room roll freely. I drilled the hole so that a section of the hole saw was exposed. This means that the rod can be pushed through the paper roll and then be placed into the holder. If you drill a complete hole through the side panels you'll need to feed the rod through the panels and paper roll.

To stop the rod from sliding out of the panels I made 2 stoppers from a plywood disc and a dowel plug. This needs to be removable so the paper roll can be changed. The plywood disc slides over the rod and the dowel is simply pressed into place.

Step 4: Glue and Finish

Now you can go ahead and glue all the parts together and, once the glue is dry, finish the piece. I used a water based polyurethane.

Step 5: Create the Cutting Blade

To create an edge for the paper to cut against I used a piece of L shaped aluminium. Aluminium works in this application because it's hard enough to cut through paper but soft enough to make working with it relatively easy.

Using a belt sander clamped to my bench I created a bevel on one edge. Then I added a piece of timber to the front side of the aluminium to give it some strength but also soften the look.

This all gets screwed into a plywood panel from behind. Where the screws go through the plywood use something like a business card to keep the aluminium just off the plywood. You might need to experiment but as long as the aluminium edge is just far enough off the plywood so that paper can slide through then you're on the right track.

Step 6: Attach to the Wall

Start with the plywood panel. Place it against the wall making sure it's level then screw it in place. After that you can add the paper roll holder. Then slide the 19mm rod into the paper roll and place it on the holder. Feed the paper through the holder and knife and you're all done!

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