I have admitted publicly that my skills at fixing stuff is about a two out of ten on the Home Depot Scale of Home and Farm Repair. Thus my tool box is not an extensive one. It has a hammer, a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and a tape measure. That’s all I need because I keep a goodly supply of duct tape on hand and as all good fix-it guys know, duct tape is the most versatile of all utensils in the cosmos. In fact I’d go so far as to say that duct tape is like The Force — It has a light side, a dark side and it holds the universe together.
Historically speaking duct tape had its beginnings around World War II. It was developed to seal ammo boxes from the effects of moisture and was so efficient that it was then used to aid in the repair of jeeps, tanks, and the rotor blades on helicopters. Later NASA picked up on this little marvel of mending and it has found a special place aboard all manned space flights since. They have used it to repair lunar rovers and it is credited with helping to save the lives of three astronauts on the Apollo 13 mission of 1970.
So don’t tell me what duct tape can’t fix. If you can’t repair it with duct tape the simple truth is that you’re not using enough.
In fairness I should also mention at this point that there is one other staple in my tool box and that’s several cans of WD-40. This little miracle substance runs a close second to duct tape as the world’s best device of fixing stuff. My rule of thumb is that if something needs to be stopped use duct tape and if it needs to go just use WD-40. Those the two complications make up 95% of the world’s repair problems and thus you don’t really need all those fancy tools to take care of the mechanical snags in your life.
I’ve used duct tape to do all the normal stuff that you associate with home and farm repair like fixing tractor seat tears or window cracks, mending shelves in the refrigerator, stopping boat leaks and of course instantly halting the sniveling of young children but over the years I’ve discovered that duct tape is highly versatile and if you use your imagination it can be used to take care of a vast array of glitches.
You can strap down items on the top of your car, repair holes in tires, use it as a band-aid, or as a cheap alternate to fly paper. I bet you hadn’t thought of using duct tape to keep those irritating shoe strings from constantly coming un-tied or as an insulator for beer cans instead of those dorky looking cozies I see so many people use.
Medical science is now getting on board and one study says that if you put duct tape on a wart, leave it there for a week and then soak the wart in warm water your problem with this unsightly skin blemish will be solved. It has also been FDA approved as an exfoliant (a process to remove dead skin cells on the outermost surface of the body) and although not pain free, is a cheaper solution than going to a dermatologist to get this done. It also works well in ridding ones-self of unsightly sunburned skin or even unwanted mustaches. Cosmetologists will also tell you that duct tape can be used quite successfully in the bikini wax process and this method is gaining a considerable foothold in the southern region of our country.
So don’t tell me what duct tape can’t fix.
There’s also the outdoor angle. Duct tape can now be bought in a variety of colors including camouflage and many hunters wrap their gun barrels with it to keep wary ducks and other wild game from spotting them. Outdoorsmen also depend on duct tape to take care of all their problems on the spot. From tent repair to fixing broken boat paddles to leaky bladders (that one carries a fair amount of risk), duct tape is always there to solve the problem.
We don’t want to forget about good old WD-40. It can be used to protect your bird feeders from pesky squirrels (they just slide right off), to get a stuck ring off your finger, as bug spray, to get chewing gum out of your hair and dog doo off your shoe. It can be used to clean toilet bowls, soothe bee stings and remove tomato or blood stains out of clothes and it’s a whiz at getting bugs off car grilles, oil spots on the driveway and killing thistle plants in your yard. Ya’ll think I’m kidding but I’m not making this stuff up!
Anyway duct tape has carved out its own little dynasty in the annals of repair history and I’d go so far to say this: Duct tape is to men what wine is to women; it will temporarily fix anything.
So don’t tell me what duct tape can’t fix.
Alvin Richardson is a contributing writer, retired educator, and public speaker. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.