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Three Things

1. Today Bush attended a a study group; next week he'll be going to Vietnam. Maybe he's having a midlife crisis or something, and frantically trying to do all those things he didn't do as a youth.

2. Am I mistaken in my belief that duct tape doesn't actually stick to anything? I was lugging a roll of it around with me yesterday as I did home repair stuff, and was amazed at the wide variety of surfaces and textures it steadfastly refuses to adhere to. Duct tape is like the Paris Hilton of hardware: it has this huge reputation, despite having never done anything useful.

3. Back when I was in middle school, it seems like I used the phrase "pop a boner" at least two or three times daily. Now, despite my best efforts, I am only able to use the phrase in casual conversation or work email a few times a month. Oh, where have those carefree days of youth gone?

Posted on November 13, 2006 to Observations


Let's get real scientific on your duct tape problem. There are four parts to the system: tape, surfaces, atmosphere and user. Let's examine these in turn. First, the tape. There are lots of brands of tape and some are crappy (Johansen 1985). Try a diffferent brand of tape and see if that sticks. Also, wet duct tape won't stick to anything (Mizokawa 1994), so if your tape is wet, get a new role. In addition, duct tape cooled to below about 5C won't stick until warmed. Second, the surfaces. Duct tape does not stick to wet or very cold surfaces (Mizokawa 1997) so if your home repair projects are damp or cold (or greased), try drying them before you tape things. Third, the atmosphere. As noted above, water and various other fluids can reduce stickage. If you were trying to use duct tape at a time when the humidity was very high, or you had just finished spraying gasoline around the house, that could be your problem. Finally, the user. Some users get confused about which side of the tape to apply, try to tape liquids or gasses rather than solids, or otherwise fail to comprehend. If no other explination applies, try asking a different user to apply your tape.

Posted by: mdrohl on November 13, 2006 11:02 PM

I used some duct tape on an actual duct. It fell off 'cause of the heat. Apparently, if you believe Wikipedia, California building code forbids the use of duct tape on ducts.

Given the number of people continually disappointed by this supposed wundertape, I smell a class-action lawsuit. Pop a boner!

Posted by: Cardhouse Robot on November 13, 2006 11:03 PM

That's why I only use duck tape. It works much better than you'd imagine.

Posted by: Joanne on November 13, 2006 11:20 PM

It's called DUCK tape, because it's WATERPROOF. It is not heatproof, and therefore is very disrecommended for use on ducts. It adheres best to dry, nonporous surfaces at room temperature, which can then be submerged after application.

For most other heavy-duty purposes for which you would think you want "duct" tape, you really want gaffers tape instead.

Posted by: Jon on November 13, 2006 11:26 PM

I canít believe that Matt compared Duct Tape and Paris Hilton in the same sentence and no commenter has suggested combining the two yet. This blog is getting far too mature for my pallet. Iím going back to The Onion.

Posted by: Lung the Younger on November 14, 2006 1:10 AM

I find it offensive that Duct Tape and Paris Hilton have been compared.

Duct Tape (or duck tape, either name is fine) fixes everything and anything.

Paris Hilton does not. QED.

Posted by: edgr on November 14, 2006 1:36 AM

Duck tape is a brand name. You could also call it gaffer tape.

Posted by: Andrew on November 14, 2006 2:04 AM

I fear we might have a communication error here. As I understand it, living in the south of the UK DUCT tape is a contraction of nonconductive/ing tape, electrical tape that comes in 2cm wide strips and is smooth and plastic on the outside. GAFFER tape is much wider (2in), and has a grid pattern on it. Also it tears easily vertically and horizontally.

Of course, what I should have done before all this is check wikipedia which obviously has the answer to all this: Adhesive Tape.

It turns out that I'm wrong, but in fairness Duck tape (the brand) is marketed as Gaffer tape over here because Gaffer tape is incredibly popular.

Posted by: Mark on November 14, 2006 2:16 AM

Oh, where have those carefree days of youth gone?

Same place those 2-3x/daily boners have gone? Wait. Maybe that was just the boys I hung out with.

Okay, duct tape. Have you tried sticking it to itself? I find that it is very eager to do that, especially if you don't want it to.

Another pressing duct tape question: why does it smell so gross?

Posted by: nyarly on November 14, 2006 2:58 AM

Is anyone besides me wondering about mdrohl up there at the top? "If you were trying to use duct tape at a time when ... you had just finished spraying gasoline around the house, that could be your problem."

Say what? Who would do that?

Posted by: benny on November 14, 2006 5:52 AM

First, today is the 155th anniversary of the publication of Moby Dick.

Second: "duct tape" was in fact originally for mending ducts, and is not at all the same thing as electrical tape. It's made of fabric, usually silver, darker on one side than the other, with a grid of threads running through it. Hard as heck to rip, very eager to stick to itself, otherwise very picky about what it sticks to.

"Duck tape" is just a particular brand of duct tape, playing on the fact that the two phrases sound alike.

"Gaffer's tape" is somewhat like a heavier-duty version of duct tape, although it's actually made of a different material.

None of them is electrical tape, which is plastic and stretchy. I've also heard people mistakenly refer to Teflon tape, which is non-adhesive tape used to seal threads in plumbing fixtures, as "Gaffer's tape".

Posted by: Marcos on November 14, 2006 6:04 AM

Whether you call it "duct" tape or "duck" tape, the cheaper stuff sticks better- and leaves a fabulous residue. I find that the "duck" tape (by the folks at 3M), although much prettier and more heavy duty, doesn't stick very well.

Posted by: Sarah on November 14, 2006 6:16 AM

Perhaps we could employ Paris Hilton to fix people's ducts...

Posted by: Fred on November 14, 2006 6:46 AM

Old duct tape that has been sitting in areas with high temperature variation will have the adhesive dry out and won't be able to stick to anything, even itself. I suggest you try the 'stick to itself' test that a reader above posted - if you don't have an instant knotwork of tape, it's time to go get a new roll.

Posted by: Mazlynn on November 14, 2006 7:55 AM

As we grow older, we find other ways of expressing ourselves, but as men, I think we are constitutionally unable to make any LESS than those 2-3 references a day.

You have simply replaced the term "pop a boner" with "Moby Dick."

Posted by: Chris Corrigan on November 14, 2006 8:23 AM

I popped a boner when I thought of putting duct tape on Paris Hilton.

Because duct tape is HAWT!

Posted by: Sam on November 14, 2006 8:59 AM

To clarify on the tape issue:

Duct tape is silver with threads as described previously. The stickiness depends on brand and what you're trying to stick it to. It often leaves a nasty residue when you remove it.

Electrical tape is not particularly sticky but it's plastic and doesn't conduct electricity so it's used to insulate wire splices.

Gaffers tape is a theatrical supply used by theatre electricians. It's thick and tears easily. The adhesive is pretty good but more importantly doesn't leave residue. It is most often black though it can be purchased in almost any color. It's far better than duct tape for most applications but it's also much more expensive and so doesn't get as much use

Posted by: Caleb on November 14, 2006 10:30 AM

I just want to add, electricians tape also varies by brand. THe generic stuff is very plasticy and non-sticky, but the 3m stuff is more like vinyl or rubber and sticks really well. Beware the residue.

Posted by: Brian on November 14, 2006 12:33 PM

Strictly speaking, Mr. Corrigan, the riddle is thus:

Q: What is Moby Dick's father's name?
A: Poppa Boner!

Posted by: LAN3 on November 14, 2006 2:05 PM

This also according to Wikipedia. Duct tape does NOT in fact, cure warts:

A medical study announced on major news networks on October 15, 2002, stated that application of duct tape can be used as an effective treatment for warts.[4]. This treatment is often called by the name duct tape occlusion therapy. A more recent study has debunked these findings, pointing out the original researchers didn't actually examine participants to determine if the warts were in fact gone, but instead phoned participants and asked.[5]. In the 2006 study of 103 children, duct tape did not perform significantly better than a placebo.

Posted by: Robin in San Jose on November 14, 2006 2:32 PM

Duct tape sticks tolerably well to itself, so try going round and round with it, like a mummy.

Having driven around Atlanta for a while, I note that it also sticks pretty well to '67 Chevys.

I doubt it would stick to Paris Hilton, but perhaps if you made it into a large silver ball you could come up with some place to put it.

Posted by: pjcamp on November 14, 2006 4:04 PM

As a youth experiencing carefree days, I can tell you that we do use the phrase 'pop a boner' regularly

Posted by: Ed on November 14, 2006 4:50 PM

You can use duct tape as an exfoliating tool. Just stick it all over your face, leave it there while you make one prank phone call and then pull it off. So long Clearasil.

Posted by: Lisa on November 14, 2006 5:05 PM

If you duct taped Paris Hilton to a popped boner 2-3 times a day, would that keep her out of the news?

Posted by: Davey on November 15, 2006 4:21 AM

A friend of mine, who'd been in the Army for many years, told me that duct tape is called "rip-stop" in the military.

Shortly after that, I read that during Gulf I, the Army was using rip-stop to slow the de-lamination of helicopter blades.

Posted by: Lost Poke on November 15, 2006 7:31 AM

Looking at Paris Hilton, I'm pretty sure that she's stickier than any brand of duct tape.

Posted by: OhioBrian on November 16, 2006 7:25 AM

What you really need to be using (instead of Duct Tape) is helicopter tape. They use it on F1 cars to hold loose bits of...I don't know, "things" on the car. I'm not sure if you can buy it in hardware stores, but you can certainly find it on-line.

Posted by: tim on November 16, 2006 1:58 PM

Did I miss something, or did no one comment on Matt's allusion to Bush vis-a-vis study groups and Vietnam? I thought it was witty and somehow deserves to be combined with Paris Hilton, boners, and duct tape, but I've exhausted myself typing all of this...

But, but, I must agree that duct tape (no matter what the brand) is *not* very good for what it is intended (unless wrapped repeatedly). I have found that a shiny, thin aluminized tape does the job (sealing ducts) very well. I think it was about $10 or $12 a roll, though.

Posted by: Larry on November 16, 2006 2:27 PM

Is Bush going to Vietnam in a helicopter with taped blades?

And my candidate for a class action suit is superglue (US: crazy glue), which seems NOT to stick a helluva lot of things. Best not to combine THAT with Paris Hilton though.

Posted by: Anonymous on November 16, 2006 4:12 PM

Is Bush going to Vietnam in a helicopter with taped blades?

And my candidate for a class action suit is superglue (US: crazy glue), which seems NOT to stick a helluva lot of things. Best not to combine THAT with Paris Hilton though.

Posted by: Rob on November 16, 2006 4:13 PM

I love that shiny aluminumized tape - and you're right, it is the only true duct tape in my world.

Posted by: Z on November 16, 2006 6:06 PM

We live in rural Arkansas, and have a small but respectable number of livestock, and lots of things that are always needing "fixin'." I'm here to tell you, that if you have, in your tool box, Buck knife, Duck brand tape, WD-40, and baling wire, there is NOTHING you can't repair, at least temporarily.

Posted by: Belinda on November 18, 2006 6:00 PM

Baling wire is the new duct tape!

Always best to remember that duct tape works best when you can wrap it around something and stick it to itself.

RE: Warts: duct tape is great for plantar warts -- it works just as well as any occlusive material and sticks really well for a long time when applied to dry skin (even after swimming and showering for several days).

The point of using duct tape for plantar warts is to keep all air, moisture and light away from the wart -- a small salicylic acid disc can help expedite the process, and you may have to change out the tape untile you've deprived the wart of a nurturing environment. The tape itself doesn't cure warts.

Posted by: jennconspiracy on November 19, 2006 9:07 PM

duct tape is aluminum with a glue side
duck tape is cotton duck with a glue side
all others are thread reenforced vinyls with a glue side

Posted by: edgar on November 21, 2006 8:22 PM

Re: Superglue
Works well enough in sticking to one's eyeball, resulting in a scratched cornea.
0_o o_0

Posted by: calliope on December 21, 2006 10:46 PM