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
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.
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
|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
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.