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Embossing label makers are great archival tools to organize and craft with. And they’re perfect for that little hint of nostalgia as well.

by: Karl Daum, BestReviews Staff

Embossing label makers are great archival tools to organize and craft with. And they’re perfect for that little hint of nostalgia as well.

by: Karl Daum, BestReviews Staff

If you’re looking for a way to keep your home or office organized, an embossing label maker is a great addition to your handy tool kit. These handheld devices make labeling easy. While there are many digital label makers on the market, users often prefer embossing label makers because their labels are durable. The old-school aesthetic is a bonus over boring black sans-serif fonts on white. With its ergonomic design and included tapes, the Dymo Embossing Label Maker with 3 Dymo Label Tapes is the top choice.

An embossing label maker is a handheld device that prints embossed labels. This means that, instead of using ink, it stamps your text into colored label tape. Therefore, the tape that embossing label makers use is a lot stiffer than a digital-printing label maker. The result is a neat, raised-up word or phrase that looks white because the stamping process stretches the colored tape away from each letter.

All embossing label makers operate similarly. The user loads the embossing tape into the label maker. Then, using a rotating wheel, they pick out each letter of what they want to say by clicking a trigger. With each click, the machine stamps down that letter and then advances to the next position. When you’ve finished writing your label, you will notice that the tape has been slowly feeding out of the top or side with your word or phrase on it. You cut it using a built-in blade, peel off the back, and stick the label to whatever surface you want.

Embossing label makers were popularized as a means to label and organize items from the 1950s through the 1970s. They were and still are particularly great for materials that are exposed to chemicals that might efface ink. Since their heyday, these unique labels have come to represent a nostalgic aesthetic. 

The same company who invented them in 1958, Dymo, still makes them today. You can get your hands on one whether you’re looking to capture a past era or preserve your belongings for a future one. A good embossing label maker can help organize your kitchen, office desk, storage unit or creative supplies. They also make for great crafting accessories at home. 

The benefit of embossed labels is that they don’t use ink and therefore cannot corrode or fade. That said, because the tape is so stiff, they don’t respond well to bending — so make sure you apply them to a flat, rigid surface. Likewise, as with all adhesives, you want to be sure that you’ve properly cleaned the application surface of dust and grease so your label doesn’t fall off. Advanced models can stamp metal, which is especially archival. 

Spin wheel design doesn’t vary all that much on these devices. Each label maker’s letter wheel is notched around the circumference so you can turn it easily. You then align the letter you want into the viewfinder before punching it out. Some embossing label makers improve on this design but use a knob to turn the wheel, or forgoing the viewfinder for a simple arrow. 

Handheld embossed label makers are about all the same weight. But the force required to punch them out and cut the label can differ from model to model. Depending on your strength and dexterity, look for devices that advertise their simplicity and facility.

The classic embossing tape color is black. But there are plenty of other colors you can choose too. You’ll always have white letters, however. 

The Dymo typeface hasn’t changed for decades, and even other brands still use this classic lettering. The typeface is sans serif, as that’s easiest for the machine to print, though some will let you use lowercase letters instead of all uppercase like the original Dymos. In addition, new models allow you to use emoticons or more special characters. 

If you have trouble with squeezing or are buying a label maker for a younger user, there are models like the Dymo Junior that simplify the machine. These make it easier to turn the wheel and clip the label for a pain-free user experience. 

Embossing label makers are typically $10-$30. If you want one that makes metal labels, however, be prepared to pay as much as $170. 

A. Dusting and degreasing are key. Use a degreaser and alcohol to prep the surface you want to apply your label to. It’s important to know too that temperature-variable environments can expand and contract both the object and tape, which stresses the adhesive.

A. You can write for as long as you have tape. Embossing label makers center your text for you, so you’re only limited to the length of the roll you put in. You choose the length with the cutting tool

Dymo Embossing Label Maker with Three Dymo Label Tapes

What you need to know: This is the classic embossing label maker from the device’s original manufacturer.

What you’ll love: Small and lightweight, this label maker has a simple ergonomic design for easy use. It comes with three 12 foot by ⅜-inch tapes: two blacks (one preloaded) and one red. The typography is just as it was with the first embossing label makers decades ago. 

What you should consider: The embossing wheels can become misaligned, but just grip them separately and rotate until they are realigned. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

What you need to know: This is perfect for the crafter who likes a little more variety at their disposal. 

What you’ll love: With two wheels, you get both upper- and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols. The maker is available in three different colors: fuchsia, lime green and turquoise. You also get two roles of tape (one preloaded) at .35 inches by 9.84 feet in black and blue. The fun design uses a viewfinder for both the cutting mechanism and letter embosser. 

What you should consider: Some users note that the letters don’t come out in a perfectly straight line, and there is no number 1 on the number wheel (use a capital I instead). 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

What you need to know: Here’s a heavy-duty option for work applications or hard-core hobbyists. 

What you’ll love: Write on stainless steel and aluminum label tape for temperature-, chemical-, UV- and weather-resistant applications. Not only can it cut labels using its tough lever mechanism, but it also hole punches so you can hang labels and punches out cable ties as well. The label maker comes with a hard carry case and a half-inch stainless steel (adhesive) and aluminum (non-adhesive) roll.

What you should consider: For such a significant investment, some users felt the adhesive was a weak point for otherwise ultradurable labels and recommended reinforcing with glue. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Karl Daum writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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