Introduction: Unusual Uses for Duct Tape

Look beyond duct tape wallets and bags and discover some really unusual uses for everyone's favorite adhesive tape. The name suggests that the tape is for use on air ducts, like what you would find in your basement, however creative people soon figured out there's loads more applications possible for this sticky stuff.

Duct tape has exploded over the last decade or so due to its availability, and the recent introduction of color variations. Though there's new uses and applications for this ubiquitous tape, it has a very neat origin story.

The idea for what became duct tape came from Vesta Stoudt, an ordnance-factory worker and mother of two Navy sailors, who worried that problems with ammunition box seals would cost soldiers precious time in battle. She wrote to President Roosevelt in 1943 with the idea to seal the boxes with a fabric tape, which she had tested at her factory. The letter was forwarded to the War Production Board, who put Johnson & Johnson on the job. The Revolite division of Johnson & Johnson had made medical adhesive tapes from duck cloth from 1927. This division of Johnson & Johnson developed a new adhesive tape (duct tape), designed to be ripped by hand, not cut with scissors. -source

Neat!

Through testing it's been determined that duct tape isn't all that great at sealing ducts, failing after normal conditions and becoming brittle. There's now specialty HVAC tape that's recommended now over duct tape. However, the humble duct tape has found a new home with creative makers. Though still used as a general adhesive tape around the home (and space!) there's new and unusual uses being dreamed up all the time.

Check out these unusual uses for duct tape and see if you can come up with your own!

Step 1: Clothes and Forms

From dresses and vests, to hats and ... viking helmets?. Duct tape is truly versatile wonder.

Though it's going to be hot wearing anything made of duct tape, you're sure to be the talk of the party with your unique fashion. Though, if you're wearing clothing for warmth maybe a duct tape jacket is the way to go.

If wearing duct tape as a fashion statement isn't your thing, you can still use this sticky stuff to make forms to sew traditional fabric clothes. Using a form allows you to sew a garment to a specific body shape without the need to have the recipient there.

A duct tape dress form is a common application of making a form, or you could just make a full body form. Taping up your subject and then peeling off the duct tape and filling the cavity makes an almost perfect body replica. Forms aren't just for dresses, you can use the same technique to make duct tape masks. Heck, duct tape can be used to make a form from just about anything!

Step 2: Duct Tape Watercraft

A duct tape kayak might seem crazy, but if the construction is sound it can hold up quite well.

Every water worthy vessel will need some kind of stiff skeleton to keep its shape. PVC is a common choice for boat keel and ribs, as it's lightweight and inexpensive. Whether a duct tape canoe or a duct tape kayak PVC is clearly a good combination. Just make sure you've used plenty of support to keep the boat from collapsing. Better yet, just leave PVC and duct tape boats as project for kids.

If you are determined to get you and your friends out on the water together, consider stepping up your design by making the boat skeleton more robust and able to carry more weight. This duct tape boat uses steel wire fencing and zip ties to create a wide bodied boat capable of carrying two.

The ultimate would obviously be a huge duct tape raft to carry your Scout Troop down the river, thereby earning your Wilderness Awesomeness Badge (if that were a thing).

Step 3: Duct Tape Art

Since duct tape comes in all kinds of wonderful colors, so why not put them to use? The bright solid colors are great for Pop Art, or if you have a digital picture you can posterise a portrait or any other image.

But, artwork is more than flat images. There are plenty of other ways to express yourself artistically through duct tape. You could play with the phonetics of duct tape and make a duck made of duct tape, or release your inner Game Of Thrones Targarian and make duct tape dragon scales.

Duck!

Step 4: Bag of Holding

Duct tape is really good at holding things, both by sticking them together and when it's made into a bag.

When duct tape is combined with fabric you can make a no-sew duct tape case. The best part of this idea is that you can make the case or bag any size you need, and with any type of fun fabric.

However, the aesthetic of duct tape is something that should be celebrated. A duct tape handbag is a great way to show off your craft skills while staying functional.

Step 5: Sports!

Though a little impractical, there's ways to make duct tape into your activities.

If trying your hand at throwing a duct tape boomerang is intimidating, you can always fashion a duct tape baseball glove to help you catch it. But duct tape isn't just for humans, there's dog projects if you're feeling adventurous (and if Fido lets you).

Duct tape dog panniers are a clever way to get your dog to carry their own items, like extra poop bags, treat, or play toys on your way out to the park.

When you get the to park you might need a ball to kick around, luckily duct tape has you covered there, too. There's two methods to make duct tape balls to kick around for the afternoon.

And for those that are into target practice there's a duct tape quiver to keep your arrows in, Katniss Everdeen would be proud.

Step 6: Duct Tape Survival

If you don't have a roll of duct tape as part of your essential camping equipment, go do that right now!

Duct tape has endless uses when in the back country. Making a compass from duct tape and some cork is a small and easy example, but more practical and realistic example is using duct tape to make a cast if you injure yourself.

If you're fireside and want to put your duct tape skills to use you could try making a duct tape bog roll holder, or maybe duct tape flip flops for keeping your feet from getting sandy after taking a dip in the lake.

Step 7: Wart Removal

A very peculiar claim to duct tape is its use in wart removal. The science behind this is poorly understood (and highly contested!), but the prevailing theory is "the tape might create a macerating and keratolytic environment, stimulating an immune response"(source).

The data is unclear about if this is a valid alternative to traditional medicine, studies conclude no benefit over a placebo. However, WebMD lists it as a low-risk alternative to acid or liquid nitrogen treatments.

As with all alternative treatments, the efficacy depends on a lot of factors, so this treatment might not work for everyone.

Step 8: Hair Removal

If you have four-legged furry friends, then you know the Sisyphean task that is keeping your couch clean. Luckily, there's a good chance you've got a roll of duct tape somewhere nearby.

Tear a strip of duct tape and make a slack loop around your hand with the sticky side out. Splay your fingers to hold the duct tape loop in place and drag the loop on your couch fabric. Pet hair will stick to the tape and be pulled off the couch. Rotate the tape loop as needed to always keep a fresh tacky surface to clean with

Duct tape can also be used on clothes to get off lint or debris. Using the same method as with the couch, loop a section of duct tape around your hand with the sticky side out. Press or roll the tape loop along your clothes to remove surface hairs, for more stubborn hairs you can try holding the duct tape and dragging it across the grain of the fabric.

Step 9: Blister Bandage

Breaking in new shoes can be painful, the stiffness of the shoes can rub against the heel of your foot and create a sore spot, which can eventually lead to blisters. Adhesive bandages can work, but are prone to rubbing off and rarely does one bandage cover the affected area. A quick alternative is to cover the heel area with duct tape, either before a blister develops, or in addition to a bandage after.

The strong adhesive of the duct tape, and slipper surface, make it a good choice to protect your feet when wearing painful shoes. Hopefully your new footwear can be broken in quickly and there will be no need for duct tape beyond the first few wearings.


Got your own unusual use for duct tape?I want to see it!

Share a picture of your creative duct tape use in the comments below and get a free Pro Membership to Instructables.

Happy making :)

Comments

author
Marleecoo (author)2017-09-20

I love this instructable!

My offer is a real life example of how duct tape can save you in a pinch. I'm in Florida and during Hurricane Irma week we got down to one gas can full of fuel for the generator. This can is older and the funnel from the others would not fit, and we couldn't find a house funnel in the dark. So I grabbed my roll of duct tape and fashioned a quick (but not beautiful) homemade funnel that did the job of filling the generator without spilling half the fuel.

As a side note, with a little modification, this little number would work for us ladies when there is no bathroom available. Sort of a homemade She-Wee!

Duct Tape Funnel.jpg
author
mikeasaurus (author)Marleecoo2017-09-21

This is a great emergency application of duct tape. I love it!

Thanks for sharing a picture. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

author
craigbaz (author)2017-09-14

If you cant fix it with duct tape.....you haven't used enough duct tape.

author
EnjeckC (author)craigbaz2017-09-19

Haha. Yes

author
JohnR245 (author)craigbaz2017-09-14

if you can't fix it - Duc it!

author
sg13NHarri (author)2017-09-19

Well, apparently when he was a teenager, my Dad found out you can use duct tape to stick your brother's entire body to a door...

I'm starting to wish I had tried this on one of my sisters at some point.

XD

author
EnjeckC (author)sg13NHarri2017-09-19

Lmao

author
Likeswater made it! (author)2017-09-17

Here's one my Dad taught me - tape the cans of PVC solvent and cement together so they form a kit. It makes them a bit more tip-resistant, easier to handle, and harder to misplace. I split the tape down the middle so the can labels show (there are different kinds of cement for different applications and materials). The split tape also makes kind of a carrying-handle (see below). Just be sure the cans are tight together and flat on a surface when you start taping!

IMG_4504.JPG
author
mikeasaurus (author)Likeswater2017-09-18

This is a good idea. I'm going to do this to a few items in my shop so they are always together!

Thanks for sharing your duct tape tip. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

author
JGinNJ (author)2017-09-18

If I recall there was a Canadian show that was a "handyman" spoof. I think the main character was Red Green, or something like that. He had countless uses for duct tape that were zany, goofy, and funny (and obviously would not work). Great fun.

author
mikeasaurus (author)JGinNJ2017-09-18

As a Canadian myself, I can confirm that Red Green is a national treasure.

author
WannaDuino made it! (author)2017-09-12

made a DUCTAPE RAMP with Dudson

WannaDuino STYLE

Our ductape RAMP.png
author
mikeasaurus (author)WannaDuino2017-09-14

What...how?

author
WannaDuino made it! (author)mikeasaurus2017-09-17

is it now enough

ductape weafing woman action.png
author
WannaDuino (author)mikeasaurus2017-09-15

YEP, but he broke 1 rib, it was a DUCTAPE RAMP, from 1 high story terras, and used it to ramp down with the skateboard, BUT was a BAD IDEA.

WannaDuino

author
LesB (author)2017-09-16

People might like to know about Gorilla Tape, which is similar to duct tape but better quality, stronger and better stickum. It's black.

author
tomi71 (author)2017-09-16

Love the House Lannister chest plate. And the compass.

author
valveman (author)2017-09-14

Love the Kayak.

Are you using any cardboard or foam-board with the duct tape?

author
PatrickL137 made it! (author)2017-09-12

Costumes and prop's for band Gwell-o (https://www.facebook.com/gwello/)

This is just a small sample of the costumes and prop's that we use in the band.

14066461_1104999196245934_2697637595745896639_o.jpg14117760_1104999149579272_189668601209473816_n.jpg14054018_1104999136245940_5555469231574410399_n.jpg14045566_1104999202912600_660712227817920686_n.jpg14063712_1104999116245942_7760877426075838495_n.jpg14102531_1104999132912607_4678024886344261536_n.jpg14117957_1104999162912604_4915559863434053955_n.jpg11263033_846508682094988_4373476380961317086_n.jpg1168976_156077111269928_2146208603_n.jpg14222216_1110969145648939_5638837506148512980_n.jpg
author
mikeasaurus (author)PatrickL1372017-09-14

Incredible!

author
TMorgan69 (author)2017-09-12

Butterfly stitches!

2017-07-30 11.46.09.jpg
author
mikeasaurus (author)TMorgan692017-09-14

Another reason to have it in your hiking/camping kit!

Thanks for sharing a picture of your duct tape project. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

author
JohnW353 (author)TMorgan692017-09-12

Duct tape and a finger splint for a broken nose.

author
CindyD1 (author)TMorgan692017-09-12

Good idea, for injuries while camping, hiking etc.

author
TMorgan69 (author)CindyD12017-09-12

It stopped the bleeding, and got me back into the game of packing up all the things before the real stitches.

author
RussellS8 (author)2017-09-12

If silence is golden, why is duck tape silver?

author
mikeasaurus (author)RussellS82017-09-14

Best comment.

author
GuyB12 (author)RussellS82017-09-12

First time I've heard that line. Genius statement (glancing at my noisy teenage kids)

author
JohnW353 (author)RussellS82017-09-12

Because DUCTS are made of metal galvanized material. silver color or gray in some instances.

author
RichieS10 (author)JohnW3532017-09-12

It seems like the joke went over your head, so I'll explain. RussellS8 was implying that he puts duct tape over someone's mouth to keep them quiet. He wasn't really asking why duct tape is silver. Then he further explained that he's covering his kids' mouths with duct tape.

author
NJSmirk (author)RussellS82017-09-12

Uh Oh. What's really going on. LOL

author
RussellS8 (author)NJSmirk2017-09-12

Just a little creative parenting. ;0)

author
vernellucerosr made it! (author)2017-09-13

My daughter is holding up a kite that I made using duct tape to adhere four different bandanas together. I used an iron to heat the tape after previous failures. I still have the kite, and hope to fly it at our next festival. Caution: do not over heat the tape as it will peel.I

Father's Day flying kites with my Daughters..jpg
author

Wow! That's an incredible kite. I would have thought the weight of the duct tape might keep it from becoming airborne. Love the livery on it :)

Thanks for sharing a picture of your duct tape project. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

author
Braindead63 made it! (author)2017-09-13

Here is a sheath for a shop knife made for me by my assistant. Simple with a layer of corrugated cardboard under the tape folded over the blade.

Eventually it will be remade using double walled corrugated cardboard with more material around the perimeter to do stitching along the edges.

DuckTape Sheath.jpg
author
mikeasaurus (author)Braindead632017-09-14

Thanks for sharing a picture of your duct tape project. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

Also, I should get me an assistant :)

author
mrwonton made it! (author)2017-09-13

made a RFID blocking wallet (also an instructable!)

IMG_0691 (1).jpg
author
mikeasaurus (author)mrwonton2017-09-14

Excellent! Can you reply here with a link to your project? I'm sure someone will want to make one (I love my RFID wallet).

Thanks for sharing a picture of your duct tape project. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

author
mid_life_crisis (author)2017-09-14

It's disputed history, but the original name was supposedly "Duck", not "Duct" Tape, because of its ability to make a watertight seal. This makes perfect sense as ducts are about the one thing you should never use it on.

author
Tman179 (author)2017-09-14

Ive actually used duct tape as moleskin before, works pretty well

author
JerryT41 (author)2017-09-13

Good ol' duct tape...you can fix anything with it....but ya can't fix stupid!!!!!

author
mwitherspoon (author)JerryT412017-09-14

NO but you can silence it!

author
AKOldman (author)2017-09-12

Here is a bit of duct tape trivia for you. The Walmart in Wasilla, Alaska, sells more duct tape than any other place in the world. Retail that is.

author
callhow (author)AKOldman2017-09-13

Why would they sell more "duct tape" in Wasilla, Alaska ?

author
AKOldman (author)callhow2017-09-13

Wasilla is kinda the gateway to the interior. Most people, particularly city folks, would see it as the last sign of civilization until you get up to Fairbanks. If you live in the interior of Alaska you can't just run to the corner store when something breaks. You have to be prepared to handle breakdowns/emergencies on your own. That means the smart folk have a supply of duct tape on hand and the Walmart in Wasilla is the place to get it.

author
jsollien (author)callhow2017-09-13

Because they're the "duct tape capital" of the world.

author
Mom3critters (author)2017-09-13

In the late 70's, I drove a Chevy Vega that I bought used for $600. Ran great and handled beautifully. Had rusted front fenders on the top along the edge of engine hood above the wheel wells. During rain, water flipped up though the rust holes onto the windshield. Most Vegas had the same problem. Used duct tape to cover the holes for the 4 years I had the car.

author
rooseveltnut (author)2017-09-13

I am an artist. Disposable foam plates were what I used to use as a pallet but I took the glass out of a cheap frame, painted one side white, then put duct tape over that same side and up the edges. Now I have a nice reusable pallet and it's not going to break that easily if I drop it. Easy to clean (waterproof) and if paint dries on it I just scrape it off with a razor blade. Voila. Perfect pallet.

author
fleetwizard (author)2017-09-12

All these are great. But, the real question is, is there anything that can actually be called an "unusual use" for duct tape? My wife drove around a VW Beetle with both front bumpers being held on with duct tape for about two years!

author
Michael_oz (author)fleetwizard2017-09-13

> is there anything that can actually be called an "unusual use" for duct tape?

Ducting...

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