Label maker mavens, can we talk? I'm ready to leap..

celticmoonMay 27, 2007

Read here about the usefulness of a label maker. Caressed a couple at the Officemax, but came back here for the 'straight poop'. (FYI, I am good with being teased over organizing - that happens already, LOL.) Read and noted also that one that getting one that does multiple lines is preferable.

FYI, my printer seriously fights with me every time I try to feed an envelope (for my real work from home). Definite time sucker to fight with it - to the point I have been close to purchasing an address maker just to avoid that problem. Duh, I am now seeing that such an address making thing and the label maker could be one and the same (= tax write off). Excellent!


What do you use yours for?

Features you wish you had?

Brand preference? Brother has a step up from the Ptouch line that has more features. But getting the rolls, labels might be harder I would think.

I just redid my drawer o spice bottles with round Avery labels on the lids - they are already falling off! Do these stick better?

Any other info or tips appreciated!!

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I'm going to confess something. I purchased a label maker a few years ago because of everyone on this board recommending it. But I've never even opened the package. It's sitting on a shelf in the garage.

I'd say it's time to start using it.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 12:13AM
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The Brother labels do stick a lot better than the Avery ones. I can't advise as to features as I got a very basic one. If you plan to use it a lot you might want to check on the cost of labels for different machines. They cost more than I expected for mine - don't know how much they vary.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 2:12AM
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can you buy ink for them? Mine seems to be out or do I have to buy a new one? it's the hand held one.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 7:37AM
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Got a Brother Ptouch -- use it all of the time -- but it does do single lines -- which is fine for my purposes. Bit of a hassle to get the backing off the label -- but with a bit of practise and a touch of swearing -- the label finally peels off. I just use my short, stubby nails NOT that blasted "toothpick" thing that comes with the kit.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 9:24AM
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I also have the Brother P-Touch - - after it was recommended by tally sue.
LOVE it and use it plenty!

I have NO trouble getting the backing off though... even before the new split-back tape. (That gadget they supply does a great job when used as directed!)

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 10:36AM
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I have the Brother Ptouch. The newer label tape is easier to peel off. It is "cracked" and splits in two lengthwise. To use the "toothpick" you have to thread the label through the slot, then kind of fold it and then pull the toothpick off quickly. It will lift a little bit of the label off the backing and you can use your nails (mine are short and stubby too) or the toothpick to separate them.


    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 10:37AM
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Marie26, funny, I too had my label-maker for almost a year before opening it - I thought it would be time-consuming to read the directions to learn how to operate it and was waiting for an opportune moment. That moment never came and I just opened it one day on a whim.

Once opened , it was really simple to operate. Separating the backing from the tape can be a bit of a challenge if in a hurry. It didn't come with a toothpick thingy, but maybe if I reread the directions I'll be enlightened.

Since the replacement tapes are expensive, I only use it for long-term labels. IOW, I wouldn't pull it out to label a bagged lunch when DD has a class trip, or to label food in freezer.

After labeling longer-term items that required such, the novelty has worn off a bit, but it is still great to have on hand!

Celticmoon, as stated in another thread, I have a very basic P-Touch model, but I think having an "Address-Maker" feature would be very useful.

Link below is to the one I own. I bought it at a local "Cost Cutters" store for about $25. It was a special offer that week only and I haven't seen them there since then.


Here is a link that might be useful: P-Touch Home & Hobby

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 11:45AM
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I have a Brother P-touch. They don't make the exact model I have anymore, bcs it's been several years. Some random thoughts.

There's no "ink" in a P-touch. The cartridges are totally self-sufficient--they have their own "ink" I think it's really a heat or chemical process.

The cartridges aren't cheap--I wouldn't use this to address envelopes. (For envelopes, I'd use Avery paper labels, and Word. Or I'd get a printer that would handle them. Or I'd address them by hand, if I didn't address that many envelopes at a time)

The P-touch's "TZ" tapes are waterproof, so that's a great plus. I think there are some Brother P-touch machines that use some OTHER tape, so avoid those. You can get iron-on fabric tape (I haven't used mine yet; I will soon bcs summer camp is coming up). I keep a stash of tapes (white letters on black, black on white, black on clear, white on clear, different sizes) on hand.

My theory on buying things like sewing machines, PDA's, iPods, computers, camera, and label makers: Round up, not down.

They're all a splurge, really--if money's really, really tight, use a Sharpie--so spend just a little bit more and get a few more capabilities than you *think* you will need.

Bcs you will probably find yourself ready for more, as you get used to using it.

W/ a P-touch, that means get the capability to do two lines of text. Right now, I'd get the PT 1950, which has two fonts. Suggested retail price is $80. That's only $30 more than the one w/ two-line printing and one font. But for that $30, you can do 5 lines (which can save you tape, if you do stuff like stick the directions for diluting the Simple Green on the outside of the squirt bottle), you can hook up to your computer if you want.

What I have used mine for:

-labeling freezer packs for lunches (TZ tape sticks in the freezer)

-labeling lunch bags & lunch dishes (sticks through the dishwasher)

-labeling the sugar and flour canisters (mine are opaque ceramic)

-labeling the boxes in the medicine cabinet that hold bandages, and the one that holds gauze & tape, or tooth stuff.

-labeling the squirt bottle with the directions for diluting the Simple Green (I even figured out how far up the bottle the Simple Green would come, and I put a label w/ a line on it, right at that spot, so I made my own "fill to this line" label)

-labeled the adapter for the battery-powered screwdriver, and several other itme.s

-labeled drawers in the kids' room for their stuff

-labeled a SHELF w/ info about where the nebulizer goes, so that if it's out, nobody will put something ELSE in its spot.

-labeled the scissors so people would know which one goes in which stash (one in the bedroom office, one in the kids' room, one in the living-room office area); ditto the boxes of baby wipes, back when there were diapers in use.

-labeled the underside of the toilet lid at my neighbor's apartment ("do not put wipes in toilet; they clog the drain"), so that the nursing aides who were helping her wouldn't clog the drain w/ baby wipes; since the labels are waterproof, you can clean right over them. You could stick a label on the underside of the toilet lid that says, "shut the lid so stuff can't fall in!"

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 12:06PM
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Lena M

Kinda like ink carts - they get you with the price of the supplies.
Has anyone found a cheap source for P10 tape?

I used my labels to practice Spanish - I labeled the kitchen stocks as Harina (mas fina), etc., Problem is everytime I bake I start humming TIto Puente's Azucar'.


    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 1:23PM
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I got a Brother P-touch bcs I feared (and the guy at Staples said) that it would be hard to find other brands of tape, whereas the Brother tapes are easily found.

I've also found that my use has tapered off a bit. I no longer label four different toys each week, since my kids are older. Though I have a burst of use at the beginning of school and the beginning of summer camp.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 8:07PM
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Thank you all for the information. I'm learning this is a little more complicated than I thought. Couple things I've gleaned from trolling the Net:

-Brother seems preferred over Dyna
-Brother has entry level Ptouch label makers. The most basic units take narrow tape cartridges and print only one line in one font.
-Paper tape cartridges(M) are much less expensive than laminated film film tape (TC, TX, TZ). TC lminate tape cartridges are for the basic Ptouch line. Best prices I'm finding for tape are at Betty Mills - link below. $7-8 for 25' paper cartridge 1/2 inch, and roughly $25 for two pack of 25' laminate cartridges.
- These other "super tapes" TZ, TZ extra strength, and TX seem to be for high end Brother machines. (?)

Whew. So far so good.

But what I primarily need is to print paper shipping label size (for work) and round sturdy (for spice jars). So then it gets complicated... There are desktop machines that will do shipping labels, taking the info right from Word. These take rolls, not cartridges. Paper label rolls are cheap enough (about $10 for 400 address size or 100' of 1/2 inch paper tape). But these machines don't seem to take ANY laminate tape narrower than 1 1/7 inch. That's too wide for household use, right? And pricey too at $20-40 for 50 feet. (Unless I print sideways and cut the tape real skinny?) And then it appears that the round labels I really want only come in paper, not film/laminate anyway.


Anybody able to tell me if the paper Brother labels stick better than the Avery ones? Liz, you said they do stick better - did you mean the paper or film?

Enough. I have a headache trying to figure this all out.

Here is a link that might be useful: betty mills site

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 12:04AM
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I guess the labels I have are film - they feel more like plastic than paper. I just used a straight label for my spice jars, though these are slightly wider than standard jars. If you want to cover the design on the jar lids, you could get round white inventory labels, which are permanent, then put your straight labels over it. Not suggesting this, just something you ~could do if you really want them covered.

Btw, I know what you mean about the headache! I ended up just getting the cheapest one they had online at Office Depot. It does what I need. Getting the tape cartridges I knew I'd need was enough to get free delivery. ($50)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 1:31AM
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celtic, is sounds like you need two solutions.

Can you investigate Word a little bit more, and find a way to print mailing labels on Avery sheet labels?

How many envelope labels would you do at a time, anyway?

I have to tell you, that if you have only paper capability and not the laminate, you won't get as much use out of your machine. If you want to label spice jars in a lasting way, you need the laminate. You may have to give up the roundness of the labels, but you'll gain the durability.

Even stuff that won't get food and gunk on it will have more durable labels if they're laminated.

If you're willing to use paper, then why not just buy the Avery sheets, and use the Label Wizard in Word, and print them out that way? It would sure be cheaper, and you won't have to store anything other than the packet of labels in different sizes.

It is the laminated-ness of the TZ labels that makes the label maker worthwhile for me.

I'll say it again--I don't recommend an entry-level machine. You will find that you really with you had wider labels, so they were more readable from a distance. You will find that you'll be saying, "gee, I wish I could label this squirt bottle, but those paper labels get soggy" or "gee, it's too bad the paper label on my plastic drawer is now all smudged and crummy looking."

A labeler in and of itself is a splurge. ANYTHING you do w/ a label maker, you could do w/ a pen or a Sharpie. If you are going to splurge, DO SO.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:13AM
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TallySue, Liz, you have convinced me that laminate is the way to go.

For my work stuff, paper is fine. It is just one or two labels or envelopes at a time, then once in while, say quarterly, maybe 30 or so. It is not the volume at all, it is the unpredictable machines. My printer is very cantankerous around feeding envelopes. And I do use the Avery labels, but again sometimes the printer acts posessed and eats a sheet, misalligns printing, jams or just otherwise won't cooperate. Happens with both the laser and the backup inkjet printer also. Pretty common problems according to what I've read - which is why people seek out the address labeling machines. I have had to stop and fight with the printer 50, 100 or more times and it is really maddening. I would love to never again steel myself as I hit "print". So that is one problem that will only be solved with a wide tape/label machine.

I do need round for the spice jars because the labels are going on the lids. The spice jars are standing up now so I can fit all 80 in the drawer. I want labels that stick to the round lids, I sometimes need three lines (Black-Peppercorns-Whole vs Cracked, White, Fine etc) and I want the print as big as possible for these old eyes. The Sharpie marked 3/4" paper rounds are OK except for being too small and falling off. Today I ordered some larger heavier paper round label sheets (1.66 in and 1.25 in) that have a permanent strong adhesive. The company also sells a glossy photo stock and a water proof polyester but I'm not sure about the weave. Have the template typed and ready to go. Paper seems to be the best lid label option, short of having diecut laminate sheets made for me ($$), or cutting all the individual words out of 1/2 laminate tape and mounting them in rows on the lids. Seems too hard, though I just may resort to that someday.

Sooooo, the address labeler is the solution if I get fed up enough with the Avery labels. Got a plan for the spice jars. With those covered, nothing is urgent and I can liesurely contemplate 'indulging' in a labelmaker for generic use.

Thanks again. Very helpful info and advice.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 2:51PM
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if you get a label maker that does 3 lines, you could go that way.

You can get 3/4" labels for that top-of-the-line label maker, the 1950.

And supposedly, there's a machine that does 1" labels. The PT-1500PC supposedly sells for $80 (Best Buy has it for $73); it hooks up to the computer, too. It's not really a handheld, I don't think.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 4:23PM
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Huh. I found the PT1950 at $69.99 (list $130). Desktop, USB to PC, will do any font/symbol in the PC, batteries OR plug, does fonts as small as 9 points. And does 5 lines! Sounds very good.

Now I just have to figure out the tape and what sizes it uses - maybe just up to 3/4 inch. Problem is, I'm not seeing this model number linked on the tape sales sites. Could it be a fake or a discontinued lemon maybe??? Maybe the PT1500PC at Best Buy that does 1 inch is better?

Here is a link that might be useful: Label maker on Amazon

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 7:18PM
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For that small number of envelopes, I'd use a typewriter. Remember those? :-) I got a nice electric one that someone gave away on freecycle. My DH thinks I'm crazy to keep it around, but it doesn't take up much space. I'd actually prefer to have a manual one, but they're harder to find.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 11:28PM
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FYI: More decoding of the gazillion Ptouch labelmakers. Brother makes 26 different label makers, not counting the 51 discontinued models!! No wonder this is crazy making.

Talking only current desktop units under $100, (not the portable ones that look like big remote controls):

BASIC OFFICE: PT1950 and PT1960 are the same except the 1960 includes the USB cord and case for $20 more. 2 fonts - but can also use any font in your PC, up to 5 lines. TZ tapes only, maximun 3/4 inch wide.

PRO OFFICE: PT2700 and PT2710 like the above but with more features and more memory. The2710 includes case and USB cord for $30 more. PC compatible, prints up to 7 lines. TZ tapes only, maximum 1 inch wide.

OTHER: PT1500 has no keyboard and works only with a computer. Looks like a picture frame on your desk, even has a slot to insert photo. Includes USB and AC adaptor cords. Uses TZ tapes up to 1 inch. No limit on lines or fonts or design- whatever your PC will put out.

QL series: primarily for shipping labels. Can use paper. Does not use any narrow laminate, only wider tapes.

There you have it.

Yeah, Minet I'm giving up on this as a work aid item. You remind me I do have an electric in the basement I bought with some grant money way back in 1977! It's a pretty big sucker though and I hate to give it my precious reclaimed desk space. When the printer fights with me I'll just handwrite. And if that loses me work, fine, cause I have a bit more work than I want anyway.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 12:29AM
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Lena M

You can buy preprinted labels. (I"ve seen similar at Cost Plus World Market).
Maybe not as much info as you'd like.


Here is a link that might be useful: Spice Barn Labels - just an example

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 10:33AM
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celticmoon, if you don't mind my asking, what kind of work do you do?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 12:01PM
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Lena, I used those spice labels once years ago, not quite a perfect fit then, and my collection is, er, odder now. Maybe because Penzy's is headquartered here and they have lots of tempting blends I'm always trying. Thank you for the tip though.

Minet, I'm a self employed forensic psychologist, and do evaluations in civil court cases involving guardianship, competency, placement and involuntary treatment. The correspondance goes to the judges or refering attorneys, also to county and private agencies, providers, etc. This is my pretirement career phase - work I plan to keep doing part time indefinitely. The pay is so bad, I don't have much competition, and there is little risk I'd really lose work over an envelope. It is more my frustration when the machines pick a fight with me, always at the worst time.

Does seem ironic I cannot reliably feed and print an envelope for a document alleging someone ELSE is dysfunctional, KWIM?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 12:53PM
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Lena M

I used those spice labels once years ago, not quite a perfect fit then, and my collection is, er, odder now.

I see. They don't list Asafoetida, Charnushka or even Zatar, let alone Fox Point Seasoning *grin*.
I'm a Penzey's addict too.

Hmm, maybe we can talk Bill into stocking labels too?


    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 1:27PM
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Ha Lena, another Penzey's junkie! You know exactly what I'm talkin about!

And since I'm posting, and you all are just dying for the outcome (snort), today the printer ate another sheet of Avery labels on me. Argggh.

So I'm at the Officemax later and lo and behold, the Brother QL 500 (that primarily prints wide, for address labels), the very one I was fondling last week that started all this, is now half off at $45, which given my atrocious tax situation is actually $22.50 out of pocket. One left on the shelf.

Worth $22 to never go though the printer wars again?? H*ll, yeah!!!

And I get to play with a new gadget. Yay. Police tape, anyone? CD/DVD labels?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 5:27PM
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I am one happy camper!! These 'paper' labels are WAY thicker and MUCH stickier than the Avery. And there seems to be some kind of coating on them. Moisten and rub one and nothing happens to it - unlike the Avery that smear, then disintegrate completely. These may well be plenty strong enough...May spring $10.50 for 100' of 1/2 inch tape and go a little crazy.

More fun than a barrel o monkeys here just making return address labels. (I can even insert a photo!)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 11:34PM
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I have an older PTouch (300) - Use it constantly. I've learned (the hard way) to label those AC power adapters. When we moved, I had an AC power adapter that I could not, for the life of me, figure out what it was for. So, I got rid of it.

Sure enough, when the batteries died on my PTouch, I had no power adapter. I'll just have to use batteries in if from now on...

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 4:28PM
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Too funny, Zone. So that was the adpater to the labeler you didn't label? Huh. I shall put labeling the adapters on my list, including the labeler one! I did label a few with Avery & Sharpie but this is more fun. And more durable. Better to sweep and do em all!

Thanks for the tip.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 10:43PM
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celtic - I'm glad you enjoy your new gadget. You sure got a great deal on it!

I've long ago given up on feeding envelopes through the printer. I just wish I could discipline my handwriting long enough to write a decent-looking address on an envelope.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 1:22AM
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I labelled the tops of my spice bottles (from Specialty Bottle) using a TZ tape, black on white, 3/4", & Brother model PT-2700. Looks great & I can print whatever I want. The pre-printed labels never have every spice.

For single addresses, I use a Dymo LabelWriter plugged to my Mac, or whole Avery type label sheets & Word for many addresses.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 12:03AM
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May 2007: "celtic, it sounds like you need two solutions." - Tally Sue

OK, OK, right as always. I am loving the QL500 for the envelopes and files. I'm so very very relieved that I don't have to stop work and fight with the laser printer feed everytime I need to get mail out. The computer pulls addresses right off my word documents and saves them so followup corresponding and billing is a piece of cake. It is wonderful.

But it won't do narrow laminate tapes. So I just scarfed me up a PT1280 at half off (19.99) just so I can use narrow TZ laminate tapes (1/8 jewel case size - I need that bad - up to 1/2.) And I can get a laminate roll for the desktop QL-500 for wider permanent labels. I CAN have it all. Bwa-aaa-aaa-ah!

Question. What size and colors TZ tapes do you find to be most useful? Sure are a lot to pick from....

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 11:50AM
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The 1/2" size is probably the "standard"; I think every P-touch can use that size & it works for most applications. Color should be matched to your environment & intended use.

I like the 3/4" size that our PT-2700 can do, because I can print extra large type or do double lines if I want. This machine has a neat option to set a specific length of label & will proportion the type to fit if necessary; this saves tape & lots of guesswork. We just started using 1/4" tape to label our lutron light buttons.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 12:19PM
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I use the 1/2" the most, in white and in black (though I also sometimes like the clear). I do like being able to use 3/4", and use that often enough to be worthwhile.

I haven't ever stocked up on 1/4", I don't think. If I need something skinnier, I just cut it by hand (and live w/ the resulting not-quite-perfect edges).

Do they make a 1/8"? That would be cool. But I don't actually label CD cases, so I wouldn't need it that often.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 12:36PM
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Thanks all, I knew I could count on you.

The 1/8 is new, actually it is 9/64, white on black only and not laminated (TZN 201). Specifically for CD jewel cases and other skinny things - and I have a bunch of work and computer CD cases that sorely need labeling.

Guess I will also get 1/2 inch and a fat 1 1/7 for the desktop QL.

The yellow 2 3/7 is tempting (think 'police line - do not cross) but way too pricey. And I'd probably just play with it. The 1 1/7 should be plenty big enough...

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 3:08PM
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I thought you said "white on black" meaning white type, black background.

So before I scoffed at their foolishness, I went looking--it's black type, white background. Whew!

It's described in one place as a "security tape"--will it come apart if you try to remove it, as a anti-theft, anti-tampering mechanism? Maybe not, though--the other sites don't mention that.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 3:40PM
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Duh. I stand corrected. Me foolish, not them. I meant to say black on white.

I'd be surprised if the 9/64 is the security type because it is not even laminated. Too small maybe for that? I have see the security kind, also very new, in a different section with a different code format. Can't find out much about it. Not really sure what it does when it gets "tampered with". Be cool if it beeped or smoked or threw red dye, but I doubt it does much other than "show" it has been messed with.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 6:43PM
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Yeah, that's what security tape usu. does--when you try to peel it off, it splits in half, and you can tell someone messed with it.

keep us posted how you like your machine, and that extra-skinny tape.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 10:18AM
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FYI: Waitin for my box o' tapes and reading over the Ptouch paperwork, I see an insert describes the Laminated Tamper Evident Tape: "Security Pattern Appears if Removed". Accompanying picture looks like a little checkered pattern appears if it is messed with. Comes in 3/4". Code is TZSE4.

There. Now we know.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 10:23PM
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isn't it cool to look at all the attachments, parts, refills, etc., available w/ our gadgets?

I loved the idea of the fabric Ptouch tape. I haven't really used it yet, but I bought it just in case.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 11:35AM
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Following up on the extra skinny tape:


Maybe it is my eyes and age, but that sure is small printing, LOL. And duh, now that I'm measuring, the 1/4 tape would probably have worked fine for the side of a standard CD case. This tape would likely fit those super slim CD cases. And I don't have those.

Live and learn...

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 11:09AM
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Ohhh I just got a label maker!!!! I think it is a Brother brand, anyway picked it up at Lowes for a whopping $5- what a bargain. I have labeled my entire kitchen today!!! Everything has it's place, well now it has a fancy new label for each item. Not only that but I printed it in English, German, and Spanish for our 2yr old DD. I think that label machine is kind of like crack! I just keeping searching to see what needs a label next......

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 11:39PM
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I also bought a P-touch 1750 as a result of this thread. I had been looking at them wistfully for quite some time. Thanks for pushing me over the edge.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 9:48PM
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I finally got around to picking one up. A P-Touch 1280. I've only had it for a few days,
but I love it.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 11:25PM
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Congrats, Jason!

I like your blog!

Everyone, Jason's keeping a blog of his organizing efforts (it's safe to click on the link, even if it does say "pleasant nights," LOL!)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 9:43AM
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