Cling-wrap dispenser



Materials you'll need...

Cylinder: 2 of 70x35x420 (or longer)

Cutter rail: 1 of 35x35x420 (or longer)

Feet: 2 of 20x40x150(ish)

Cylinder plugs: 55x55x100(ish)

End caps: 90x90x25(ish) and 45x45x20(ish)

The only crucial dimensions are the length of the cylinder and cutter bar which need to finish up the same length as the cutter insert.(400mm)

  While there is more than one way to skin a cat, this is how I bored the cylinder for the dispensers this time around. The adaptor mounted on a saw-tooth bit you see here is made of gidgee, shaped to fit snugly and centrally on the front of the bit. Aim for a diameter the size of a square just smaller than the diameter of the saw-tooth/Forstner bit. I use a 52mm bit which allows me to load a 60 metre roll of cling-wrap in the dispenser. The 52mm final hole requires a square hole about 35mm or less so the adaptor I made was about 32mm diameter.

Set the table-saw up at 45° and set the height to cut out a section to suit the size of your drill bit adaptor. Glue the 2 sides of the cylinder together with PVA glue and newspaper in the join. Wrap some masking ape or other non-stretch tape around each end for added security. The drill-bit adaptor should be an easy fit in the square hole in the cylinder.

Fit a cone or similar to the tailstock quill to keep the cylinder centred as you push the piece over the drill-bit mounted in a Jacobs chuck on the lathe running at low speed. Clear the drill frequently and smear some paste wax or similar on the adaptor occasionally to stop it burning. Work into just over halfway then turn the piece around and work from the other end to complete the hole.

Turn some scrap disks to fit easily about 5mm into each end of the cylinder and glue them in place. Ensure you mark the centres on the scraps for easier alignment when you mount it on the lathe. Mount the cylinder between centres and turn it down to 70mm diameter at most which will leave the walls around 9mm thick, better to aim for about 6 or 7mm. Sand the cylinder while it is still on the lathe.

Mark the cylinder in from each end leaving 400mm between the marks. Score a groove at these marks before removing the cylinder from the lathe to leave a clean edge when you saw the waste off. Once trimmed to length, use a paint scraper or knife blade to separate the cylinder halves along the glue line.

 Once split in half, sand or plane the flats lightly to remove the glue/paper - a very smooth finish is essential on these surfaces. Sand the inside of the cylinder to get an even surface.


 Turn the dowel for the cutter-rail leaving about 10mm square on each end. Use these flats to keep the rail aligned with the fence while pushing it over a router bit or tablesaw to cut a groove to suit your cutter. Once the groove is cut into the rail, trim the ends off the rail leaving it the same length as your cutter (normally 400mm)

The cutters I buy start off with a tongue on the bottom that is supposed to fit into the carton. I use the tablesaw to remove the tongue so it will sit in the groove cut into the rail. All that holds the cutter in place in the groove is the lip of the end-caps and a piece of double-sided tape towards the middle.

Turn 2 dowels about 30mm long down to the inside diameter of the cylinder. Drill a 5mm hole through the center of one dowel, then drill a bit over halfway through with about a 10mm bit to house the spring and screw. Glue the dowels into each end of the bottom half of the cylinder. Glue the fixed end cap in place. Fit the spring and screw into the moveable end cap.

Turn end-caps for the cutter-rail with a lip similar to the cylinder end-caps.

I cut the feet to shape with a bandsaw and refine them on my home-made spindle sander but any method is fine. Sit the cylinder and cutter rail in position on the feet and drill through the bottom of the cylinder into the feet and through the bottom of the cutter-rail groove into the feet and screw them in place (glue as well if you wish). This method ensures the unit sits flat and hides the screw-heads under the cutter and under the 2 strips of felt I attach to the bottom half of the cylinder with double-sided tape.

Fit the cutter into the groove of the rail with a bit of double-sided tape to hold it in place while you glue the end caps on.

Buff the flats of the cylinder with wax to ensure the wrap slides over it easily but do not get any wax on the cutter as it needs to be tacky to hold the wrap in place after a cut.


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