Lee Valley & Veritas
Woodworking Newsletter
  Volume 10, Issue 2 - November 2015    
Multi-roll Tape Dispenser
Multi-roll tape dispenser
If you throw your tapes in a drawer, or, worse, all over the place, you must inevitably tire of sorting through the contents of the drawer to get the roll you need. I came across a simple, ingenious storage solution on a magazine's website: a jumbo tape dispenser for all your essential tapes. It is basically an open-bottom box with dividers that hold rolls of tape on dowels.

I made my dispenser with two variations: i) instead of using a power router, I resorted to hand tools to cut the joinery, including the stopped dados, and ii) I added a low-profile fastener to the dispenser so that it can be wall-mounted or used on a tabletop.
The tape dispenser mounted to the wall
The tape dispenser can be wall mounted or taken to the bench.
Laying out the Dados and Stopped Dados
My choice for this shop project was poplar from the scrap bin. I cut all of the pieces to size except for the front and back, which I cut slightly over-length. After cutting the pieces, I placed the rolls in the partially assembled dispenser. I marked out the cut-lines for all of the dados and trimmed the front and back flush. The stopped dados were marked so that they were cut on both sides of the dividers, but only on the inside faces of the sides.
Marking the cut-lines for a loose fit   Marking the stopped dados
Place one or two plastic cards between each roll of tape and the dividers to mark the cut-lines for a loose fit.   Gang up all the dividers and sides flush together and mark the stopped dados.
Cutting the Rabbets
The front and back are joined to the sides with a rabbet joint (or a dovetail joint, if you want to practise your dovetail skills). You can cut rabbets with a chisel – see my article on "Using a Bench Chisel" – or with a skew rabbet plane.

The skew rabbet plane is not hard to use if you practise a few steps on a scrap piece. First, after setting the depth and width of the cuts, engage the scoring spur as you cut across the wood grain. Start the plane at the far end of the piece and, holding both the knob and handle, pull the plane back in several strokes. Once scored, start again at the far end, making short forward strokes first and eventually full-length strokes. Always hold and press on the fence, not the knob, as you push. To avoid tilting the plane, hold the handle loosely. Continue cutting till the plane stops making shavings.
Cutting the rabbets
For precision, cut the rabbets on the front and back pieces at the same time.
Cutting the Dados
I usually use a plow plane or shoulder plane and a batten to cut dados. However, short ones like those for the dispenser can be easily handled with a handsaw and chisel. First, use a handsaw to cut two vertical walls that define the dado. You can make a deep V-groove as described in my bench chisel article to guide the sawing, or clamp a block to the piece to help saw vertically. After the walls are cut to depth, remove the waste and clean up the bottom using a chisel. You can clean up the dado bottoms more quickly if you use a router plane or shoulder plane instead.
Sawing   Chopping away the waste
Score the dado lines using a marking knife and clamp a block in position to guide the vertical sawing.   Chop away the waste at an angle towards the walls and then horizontally pare the dado flat.
Cutting the Stopped Dados
At first sight, a stopped dado seems hard to cut, as you can't use a handsaw to define it as you do a through dado. One solution is to treat it like a mortise. Drill a series of shallow holes between the cut-lines and remove the waste using a chisel. I chose to drill just one hole at the end of the dado to guide my chiselling work. If desired, score the stopped dados with a marking knife and remove the waste in the same manner as cutting the through dados, starting with angled cuts towards the walls. Pare the bottom flat using a chisel or a router plane.
Defining the end and the depth of the stopped dado   Paring away to form a flat dado
Mark the drill point and drill a stopped hole to define both the end and the depth of the stopped dado.   Pare away the remaining waste in the slot to form a flat dado.
Cutting the Filler Blocks and Dowels
The filler blocks fit into the center holes of the rolls of tape, while the dowels hold the filler blocks between the dividers. It is more efficient to glue up a long block, trimmed to the desired size, and then saw out the individual filler blocks. After drilling the holes on the filler blocks and cutting the dowels to length, I glued the dowels in place and dry assembled the dispenser. After the glue-up, I installed a premium hacksaw blade on the front and a Z-clip on the back.
Cutting out the blocks and drilling the center holes   Attaching the Z-clips to the dispenser
After test fitting the glued-up filler block, cut out the individual blocks and drill the center holes.   Attach the Z-clips to the dispenser and the wall.
This tape dispenser, as you can see, is both a functional and skill-building project. Its completion will give you the confidence to use the same joinery techniques and tools to build larger furniture pieces by hand.

Text and photos by Charles Mak

Charles Mak is a businessperson and enthusiastic hobby woodworker, teacher, writer and tipster.

Further Reading

American Woodworker Editors. "Jumbo Tape Dispenser." American Woodworker. Feb. 10, 2010. http://www.americanwoodworker.com/blogs/tips/archive/2010/02/10/jumbo-tape-dispenser.aspx

Mak, Charles. "Using a Bench Chisel." Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter. Volume 8, Issue. 3. Jan. 2014.
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