What in the World is Gaffers Tape?

It’s got a pretty strange and specific name. Gaffers tape flies under the radar for a lot of people unless they have cause to use it for a particular task. However, it’s a great multipurpose tape to keep on hand, and you can get it in any number of different sizes and colors at Tapes Supply.

Properties of Gaffers Tape

Gaffers tape, also known as gaff tape or gaffer’s tape, is a cloth tape, typically made of cotton. It uses a tough, rubber adhesive that is fairly resistant to extreme conditions. The adhesive comes off of surfaces more cleanly than many other types of ‘tough tape’, doing less damage and leaving less residue behind. The tape itself has a high tensile strength, but it is also pressure sensitive, which allows the tape to be torn neatly into pieces rather than needing a cutting utensil.

It’s often confused with duct tape, but duct tape is typically made from plastic rather than cloth and the adhesive in duct tape isn’t intended to be removed well.

Why is it Called Gaffers Tape?

This functional adhesive tape is thought to be named after the gaffer position, or lighting tech, on film crews. One of the most common uses for gaffers tape is sticking down cables and cords to create a safer, neater stage. Cords that are stuck down are often referred to as gaffered or just gaffed, even.

History of Gaff Tape

This tape was originally developed during World War 2 by Johnson and Johnson. The original purpose was as a medical tape, but soldiers quickly found themselves using it for sealing ammunition boxes to keep out debris and moisture.

What is it Used For?

The number of potential uses for gaffers tape are only limited by your imagination. Because it’s tough but does little damage, it is a great adhesive tape for many jobs, and the cotton fabric makes it ideal for crafts.

Gaffers tape is commonly used on stages. Flat black tape is applied to hold down cords and secure sets. White gaffers tape is used on soundboards for handwritten labelling purposes. Narrow gaffers tape, often called spike tape, is used to mark off floor layout in live theater productions. It’s perfect for stage productions because it isn’t damaged by the heat from lights or other equipment. It’s also non-reflective, which is great for stage fixes that need to blend in rather than stand out under the lights. The soft feel of the cotton and the removable nature of gaffers tape also makes it great for musical instruments.

There are many potential in-home uses for gaffers tape. It’s great for bookbinding and other repairs around the house. Many people use it in home electronic set-up like bundling cords behind a computer or entertainment center. It’s a favorite with many sports enthusiasts, too, and is often used for hockey equipment. Gaffers tape is a favorite for hula hoopers who make their own hoops. Because it’s quite weatherproof, it’s perfect for outdoor holiday decorating or general outdoor repairs.

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