How to thread a packing tape dispenser

Written by jeffrey brian airman
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How to thread a packing tape dispenser
Reinforce corners and seams with packing tape to strengthen a cardboard box. (woman packing/unpacking boxes during a relocation. image by T.Tulic from

A properly threaded tape dispenser rolls out a single layer of tape until there is none left. Packing tape dispensers save time and effort when sealing and assembling boxes. Most packing tape dispensers are designed to be used with one hand so the other hand is free to hold box seams together and stabilise surfaces. Load up a roll of packing tape and thread it through the dispenser so it can be applied and cut to size in a single motion.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Ensure the packing tape is equally as wide as or narrower than the cutting blade on the tape dispenser. Packing tape is commonly available in widths of 2 to 3 inches.

  2. 2

    Press the packing tape roll onto the gear in the dispenser, with the cut edge on top of the roll and pointing toward the blade in the front of the tool.

  3. 3

    Peel the corner of the cut edge with a fingernail until you are able to pull the entire width of the tape straight up off the roll about 6 inches, with the adhesive side facing the front of the dispenser.

  4. 4

    Pull the guide away from the roller if it is on a flexible hinge. Thread the packing tape under the roller so the adhesive side is facing out. Press the guide back into position so it will hold the tape on the roller.

  5. 5

    Tug on the end of the packing tape until the section showing your fingerprints is past the cutting blade. Pull the tape taught over the blade to trim the tape and prepare the packing tape dispenser for use.

Tips and warnings

  • Commercial grade packing tape is easier to thread and dispense without tangles.
  • The sharp serrated cutter on a tape dispenser will easily cut into skin. Avoid making contact with the cutting teeth when threading and using a packing tape dispenser.

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