MASKING TAPE APPLICATOR

I have seen very sturdy, masking tape applicators available from a number of sources, costing in the $105 to $135 range. You can find them through Home Depot, Uline (800-295-5510, a great source for packaging materials) and Ship*It (800-481-3600, a competitor of Uline). The applicator in the photo is from Ship*It.

I decided I needed a tool that was much smaller, lighter in weight, and easy to carry. It is the weight that makes the applicators work so well, so I had to strike a reasonable compromise. In looking for parts, I contacted places that make box packaging materials. Ultimately, I discovered that it was easiest to buy an existing box tape applicator and make a few changes than to reinvent the wheel.

Photo of a masking tape applicator tool.

 

I bought an applicator from Uline, pictured below, right. The problem was, packaging applicators work by being pulled towards you, but I needed one that could be pushed. So I had to figure out how to change the direction. It turned out to be very easy.

In the photo, the words under the arrow say "natural rubber roller."Above the roller is a serrated cutting edge, a spring to hold the tape, and a plastic shield. To make this into a stand-up tape applicator, picture that the handle must be directed upward (rotate to the right), a handle added, and then pushed (rather than pulled). In order for this to work, the roller must be in the very corner, not down on the side. So it must be moved. This will require an electric drill to make holes in the appropriate place.

Catalog picture of a package taping device.

Loosen the screws at the end of the rubber roller and remove it. There is another set of screws by the plastic shield, which allows the removal of the shield, spring, and blade. Take them off. In this model, there was a little threaded tube which served as a strengthening brace up by the plastic shield. I installed this brace in the holes that were just vacated by the roller which I removed.

Next, drill holes in the corner and install the roller there. All that is left to do is to add a hand and we're finished. In some cases you can remove the plastic grip on the tape applicator and put it at the other end of the handle. For some models, that isn't possible, so just slip the end of the handle into the hollow grip, drill some small holes, and install screws to hold the handle in place.

 

Drawing of how the new tape applicator works.

The photo to the right shows the new design in operation, in the direction of the arrow. For the handle I chose a clothes bar that was quite heavy. To make up for the lighter weight, press down on the applicator while using it. What is so surprising is how well it does circles, without having to tuck and trim. The photo shows two applicators of slightly different design. The yellow tape is two inches wide, the white tape three inches. You can see how smoothly they are putting down the masking tape, without tucks or ridges. Photo of two tape applicators of the new design.

I think a folding handle would make it even more portable, but I haven't found the right one yet. I sent two of these applicators to Ruth Richardson in Canada, who has made more than 200 masking tape labyrinths. She used them and said that they worked very well. In fact, she was thrilled. This last photo was taken at the Waycross Retreat Center in 2007 during the Midwest Labyrinth Gathering, making a large masking tape Chartres labyrinth.

How to Make a Spiral Labyrinth

Tape machiines lend themselves to making spiral labyrinth in which one walks continuously, making a spiral rather than cocentric circles. For specific instructions, see this pdf article:

spiralinstructionsPDF.pdf

 

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