Introduction: Unusual Uses for Duct Tape

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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


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.


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!

Happy making :)