Gaffer tape


in Daily updates, Geek stuff

Duct tape is a material with legendary status among nerds, and has been used to build or repair countless things. Recently, I discovered that all the admirable qualities of duct tape, along with a few extras, can be found in matte black gaffer tape. The principle advantages of gaffer tape are that the adhesive won’t get deposited on materials where it is used, leaving them sticky once the tape is removed, and the more closely-spaced fibres. Like duct tape, gaffer tape can be ripped into neat strips and used without other tools. The more closely-spaced fibres allow for more control over the shape of the pieces, and neater strips overall. It can also be unstuck and re-stuck more cleanly and easily than duct tape can.

So far, I have used the new tape to repair the fraying bits on my bike handlebars, repair and reinforce the leather folder where I carry issues of The Economist, tape down the switch on the power bar beneath my desk that I sometimes hit accidentally, and strengthen the bindings on some used hardcover books. I plan to use it to make some flash accessories.

One disadvantage of gaffer tape, aside from the somewhat higher cost ($0.26 per yard rather than about $0.20), is that it is much harder to find. Since I first learned about it in a photography textbook, I thought it might be available in photo stores. After having no luck there, I ordered some online from National Hardware Sales. For those looking for something bolder than matte black, they also have the stuff in neon colours.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan March 9, 2009 at 8:44 pm

I have also used the tape to strengthen my incredibly flimsy IKEA chairs.

Tristan March 10, 2009 at 1:56 am

Gaffer tape is ok for fixing frayed handle bars, but for really serious bike modification, you can’t replace duct tape:

Milan March 10, 2009 at 9:00 am

The tape has a good texture for gripping – like an Elastoplast bandage.

It would be good for making pieces of gear easier to hold.

Antonia March 10, 2009 at 11:45 am

Yay – another gaffer tape lover. Can’t believe it never arose while you were in Oxford. I use the clear one as well (helps if you don’t want to obscure writing underneath).

Milan March 10, 2009 at 12:23 pm

In what sort of applications have you used the clear tape?

Milan March 12, 2009 at 11:07 am

One more use for gaffer tape:

Say, it is too cold to wear work clothes outside, so you carry them to work with you.

Suppose, also, that you brought a shirt that requires cufflinks, but forgot to bring the cufflinks.

In just a few minutes, you can design and build cufflinks comprised of paper clips and gaffer tape.

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