Homemade Packing Tape Dispenser

I was so inspired by this cool cigar box tape dispenser Cathe Holden made (check out her blog, http://justsomethingimade.com) I decided to make one for myself.
Cathe Holden's Cigar Box Tape Dispenser

Michael’s sells these great clear packing tapes with funky designs on them, since I can’t commit to using only one design, I have many rolls lying around the studio. I hate gumming up my scissors cutting them to get a clean tear, so obviously a tape dispenser became indispensable to my studio. I wanted to make this using found objects lying around the studio. Mainly for the whole “waste-not-want-not” mentality, and also because I am cheap and didn’t want to spend any money. The more I looked at purchasing various component pieces, the more I found myself drawn to just purchasing a “real” tape dispenser from the store. So, here are the more or less step-by-step instructions for making your own tape dispenser.

Since I have switched to online banking, I haven’t needed this cool bill organizer I purchased at Target many years ago. It has faux beadboard styling and a convenient drawer for various essentials. (I forgot to take a before picture, but it looked similar to this)

I knocked out the inner dividers carefully and drilled a hole on the sides for a dowel. I then painted the organizer bright turquoise and decoupaged the interior with pages from an old dictionary. ( I know that skimmed over a couple of steps, but this is not a decoupage instruction post.

I also watered down some brown paint and quickly wiped the organizer with that to give it an antiqued appearance.

To create a sharp edge to tear the tape, I tore off the metal-cutting band from a box of waxed paper. I then flattened out the poky metal bits with a pair of pliers.

I then used metal duct tape to adhere it to the organizer. I used the metal tape to give it a consistent look and to safely cover the other sharp edge of the metal (who knew that edge was sharp on both sides.) I then realized that metal tape alone wouldn’t give it the strength needed, so I stole some brass screws from a little box I had lying around the studio. I didn’t have a drill bit small enough, so I used a nail to make small pilot holes.

Now for the most challenging part of this process. How to securely hold the 3″ diameter packing tape onto the dowel spindle? I looked at closet rods, but they weren’t thick enough. I tried to find the foam paint rollers used by Cathe Holden, but my Home Depot only had rollers with their own thick diameter. So, in keeping with my upcycling theme, I decided to modify old spools from ribbon. I cut the edge of one side to fit the tape and did the same for the other side of the roll.

However that didn’t work, because when you spun the packing tape around the dowel, the ribbon spool would spin right off the roll. So, I decided to trim down the other side as well and force the entire spool into the packing tape. I put masking tape along the edge for a really tight fit.

I repeated that for all the rolls of tape, loaded on the dowel and then assembled the dowel within the organizer. I reattached the drawer pull to the bottom drawer, and loaded it up with essential mailing supplies.

Now I can’t wait to get my next order so I can use my new tape dispenser.


I have since replaced the metal strip from the wax paper for a hacksaw blade. The metal strip only cuts aluminum foil, wax paper, cling film and flesh…ow.


2 thoughts on “Homemade Packing Tape Dispenser

  1. Pingback: Studio Organization Update – Shipping Station « CarrieTown

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