The Definitive Guide To Adhesive Tape 6

“One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop.”

– G. Weilacher

Tape is a versatile tool that can be used to complete temporary repairs, build electrical circuits, and complete innumerable other projects.

Every man should keep a good stock of tape on hand to be prepared for a variety of undertakings.

Today, we will explore the history and uses of five types of tape every man should be own and understand.

Duct Tape

Probably the manliest tape around, duct tape is made of three primary components:

  • Flexible plastic shell (usually gray)
  • Reinforcement string network
  • Strong adhesive


Invented in 1942, duct tape was used to keep moisture out of ammunition cases during World War II. Soon, soldiers began to recognize the versatility of this new tape, and emergency repairs to guns, jeeps, and even aircraft were made with duct tape.

After the war, ex-soldiers introduced this multi-purpose tape on the home front where it soon came into common use.

Today, duct tape can be found in the tool chest of nearly every man in America.


  • Temporary household fixes
  • Short-term car repairs
  • Water-proofing protection
  • Lunar rover repairs

Interesting Tidbits

  • Duct tape actually is not used on ducts (it’s illegal in most of the US)
  • It is unknown whether this tape was originally called “duct” or “duck” tape.

Electrical Tape

Usually made of vinyl, this tape is normally black but comes in other colors as well.


Electrical tape was invented by 3M in 1946 to be used as insulation for electrical work.


  • Electrical insulation (colors indicate levels of insulation)
  • Securing knee socks and shine guards in rugby
  • Wrapping drum sticks (for marching percussionists)
  • Color-coding items around the house
  • Replace the stickers on Rubik’s Cubes
  • Handy when it comes to how to prevent pipes from freezing in the winter

Interesting Tidbits

  • Most electrical tape can be torn by hand, but some do require scissors.
  • Electrical tape is applied to wires by spinning the roll around the wire.

Packing Tape

Packing tape (also called box sealing tape) is simply an adhesive layer on a backing of polyester or polypropylene film.


Originally called Scotch® Cellophane Tape, box sealing tape was the third major invention of the 3M company before World War II.


  • Fastening industrial boxes
  • Sealing regular packages

Interesting Tidbits

  • This tape is often applied with a handheld dispenser.
  • Industrial machines can be used to automatically spread this tape.

Double-sided Tape

As its name states, this tape is simply a strip of cloth, paper, or plastic with adhesive applied to both sides.


The origin of this tape is unknown.


  • Add pictures to photo albums
  • Create strong grips (i.e., on hammers or steering wheels)
  • Complete crafts without visible tape

Interesting Tidbits

  • Double-sided tape can replace glue in low-stress situations.
  • Acid-free tape must be used when working with photos.

Masking Tape

With a paper backing and different strengths of adhesives, this tape is normally used in temporary situations.


3M employee Richard Drew invented this tape in 1925 when he recognized the need for a low-adhesion tape in the painting industry.

The tape previously used for masking often pulled off the paint with it – slowing the process by requiring excessive touchup work.  Masking tape saved time by not peeling off the paint.


  • Painting cars, houses, or anything else
  • Temporarily holding blueprints to a drafting board
  • Securing drawings to a light table without damaging the paper

Interesting Tidbits

  • The tackiness of this tape is rated on a scale of 1 – 100.
  • Special sub-types of masking tape meet individual requirements (i.e., Drafting Tape, Painter’s Tape)


With these five types of tape in your toolbox, you will be prepared for a wide variety of projects.  You will now be able to do a better job… in less time!

What is your favorite tape?

6 thoughts on “The Definitive Guide To Adhesive Tape

  1. Reply Nathaniel May 24,2010 2:15 PM

    Great article, Nate!!

    My favorite kind of tape is Duct Tape. In my opinion, it is the best all-around tape.

    Thanks again for this article.

  2. Reply Nate Desmond May 24,2010 2:51 PM

    Glad you liked it, Nathaniel! I agree that Duct Tape is probably the best all-around tape.

  3. Reply Sam May 27,2010 9:10 PM

    Good article, I think the history behind the tapes kept the interest going. I prefer Duct Tape as well.

    As you have no covered some tape types, what of glue?


  4. Reply Joseph May 29,2010 12:16 PM

    I actually prefer masking tape, myself. It’s great for securing cables or wires. When you take off the tape, no residue is left over (a HUGE plus). Also, it tears really easily.

  5. Reply Nate Desmond May 29,2010 1:55 PM

    @ Sam – I’ll have to think about that!

    @ Joseph – Duct tape can leave pretty nasty residue.

  6. Reply twistedxtian May 29,2010 7:42 PM

    Another great use for electrical tape is to bandage wounds. As a former electrician, I can’t tell you the number of times I, and other guys, used it to tape up a cut. Though when we found it was reported to be linked to a case where a guy got a flesh-eating disease infection, usage tapered off.

    I’m also a big fan of gaffers tape. I find it comparable to duck(t) tape, but doesn’t leave that sticky residue, even after being baked in the sun.

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