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Gaffers Tape

Think of “gaffer’s tape” as the Cadillac of general purpose tapes — the king of half-assed repairs. (Duct tape is the “queen.”) “Gaff” tape — as the pros call it — is a cloth-backed tape often used in cinematic and theatrical productions. It outshines regular duct tape in both tensile and adhesion strength — without leaving as much nasty residue as duct tape.

Gaff tape is used by Gaffers  to rig lights, wiring, and the like. Much like duct tape it has endless potential. But unlike duct tape, you can actually remove it later without the usual leftover goo. It’s easy to write on and even comes in various colors and sizes — though flat black is traditional for stage use due to its non-reflective nature.

The tensile fail point for gaff tape is usually around 45 psi, compared to around around 25 to 30 psi for duct tape. Its adhesion is superior, too, failing at about 55 ounces per one-inch strip. (Duct Tape fails at about 40 ounces per one inch strip.)

The only bad news is that the pro grade stuff isn’t cheap. A 2 ‘X 60 yard roll of 3M 6910 gaff tape goes for $27 on Amazon!. Other brands go for far less at around ten to fifteen bucks per roll. And the secret, of course, is to buy in bulk. Don’t worry — you’ll use it eventually.

Gaffers Tape [3M]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s this?]


20 Responses to The Thinking Man’s Duct Tape

  1. LGKBF says:

    In the industry, we call gaffer’s tape ‘the Force.’ It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

    It’s also commonly referred to as ‘g-tape,’ as opposed to ‘d-tape’ (duct) or ‘e-tape’ (electrical).

  2. techieman33 says:

    gaff tape is the best thing since sliced bread. Seriously it’s worth every penny.

  3. moojoe says:

    you can get good gaff tape at http://www.bmisupply.com
    I do a lot of purchasing for theatres, and I order most of my tape from this company.

  4. gillsans says:

    A photographer friend of mine recently made the switch to Gorilla Tape, since it had similar specs (heat tolerances in particular), but cost less than half. I’m still using gaffer tape for my video projects (I don’t go through it as fast).

    Anybody made the comparisons?

  5. Chuck Cage says:

    gillsans: Having used both, I’ve never considered Gorilla tape and gaff tape as applicable to the same purposes. All the additional glue on the Gorilla tape really works well for sticking porous materials or dissimilar materials together, but it does leave quite a bit of residue — kind of the opposite of gaff tape.

    We have both in the TM shop. I generally use gaff tape as a “catch all” because it leaves less mess. I use Gorilla tape when I really need things to stick/stay together.

  6. I get mine from here:

    ~$10/roll and pretty good quality stuff.

  7. gillsans says:

    When I was in college my source for gaffer tape was to throw the almost-but-not-quite finished rolls into my bag when we wrapped a video shoot. Now I get it from a local lighting supply store for ~15 a roll — and put it on the company dime! I use it in my apt to tape down my cables in high traffic areas (one guess if I’m married). I actually can’t remember the last time I used duct tape instead of gaffer tape.

  8. TMIB_Seattle says:

    We used to use this all the time when I was doing theater lighting. It was standard practice to wrap the handle of a crescent wrench with gaffers tape before typing it to your belt with a long string. The string was there so if you dropped your wrench you wouldn’t take somene out one story down. The gaffers tape on the handle meant you always had a small amount on hand when at the top of a ladder, plus it made holding the wrench in your teeth a lot more comfortable. 🙂

  9. Jim K. says:

    Having worked in the industry for several years I too found the wonders of gaff tape. There’s really no substitute for it when you need it. Holds strongly, removes cleanly, just great for lots of things (I’ve even lined the inside brim of my cowboy hat with it to fill in some space that appeared there after I lost a ton of weight making it fit poorly. Thankfully it comes off easily though since I put much of that weight back on and needed to take the tape back out again. Sigh… who would’ve thought you gained and lost weight on your head?!)

    All this said though, I still keep a roll of good ‘ol duct tape in the truck for quick emergency repairs , etc. There’s a reason they call it hundred mile an hour tape.

  10. Evan N. says:

    Gaff is the best for A/V and Roadie type stuff. I also use it to cover the emblems on my TV and stereo. I like the all black look. (It’s kind of like a pastel black). Like the others say: damn strong, doesn’t leave residue. I like Permacel P665. I’ve definitely seen variations in quality, as I’ve had some cheaper tape that leaves a bit of glue behind.

    Have both duct and gaff! For example, fixing a pinhole leak in a radiator hose just feels like it would work better with sticky, gooey, not-intended-to-be-removed-later duct tape. Taping down cables, especially on painted walls and carpets, stick with the gaff.

  11. RoadRacer says:

    We call in 200mph tape in roadracing because it’s the only thing that can hold the body work to your bike at speed.

  12. Mike says:

    I like P665 pro gaff but i havent tried anything else. Is there anything else thats as strong and residue resistant?

    I’ve used it no less than a zillion different ways but the biggest application was for moving furniture. I have to move alot of furniture to paint sometimes very loaded furniture.. It keeps cords tidy on unplugged electronics, big doors and drawers from sliding or popping open spilling and stuff in shelves from sliding out. Banding wrap is nice but doesnt work when the furniture is located againts the wall leaving no access behind to wrap before its moved.

    I use mostly the white 1″ wide stuff. I think im goint to get a mini small core roll to carry around in my pocket.

  13. Mike says:

    To be clear i mean moving stuff across a room or to another room for painting. Also i would use gaffers tape on something that doesnt have a decent solid finish.

  14. Eli says:

    Duct tape usually kicks the crap out of gaff tape in a wet situation. Gaff tape turns into a cooked lasagna noodle.

  15. BG says:

    I just found this test pack for Gaffer Tape so you can try 3 or 4 different manufacturer’s products. This is a great idea considering the cost of the rolls.

  16. Andy says:

    I just picked up a full sized roll at an Ocean State Job Lots store for $3.88. I haven’t used it enough to see how strong it is, etc., but even if it isn’t truly gaffer’s tape, it strongly resembles it with a matte finish, easily teared, etc.


  17. Eric Dykstra says:

    Hey Andy

    That’s where I’ve been getting mine! The store I go to seems to be running out, it’ll be a sad day when it’s gone. What state do you live in?

  18. scote says:

    I use a lot of Gaff tape but I’ve stopped using that old-style stuff from Permacel with the thick white adhesive (oil based?). Although Gaff tape is supposed to be for temporary taping, we all know how reality tends to get in the way.

    BTW, if you are using Gaff tape to tape down cables, ditch the 2″ stuff and go for the 3″, it is way easier to laydown.

  19. Eddie says:

    I used to keep a roll of this on my bikes. One great use I have found is that if your caught in a rain storm on a bike but can’t stop to wait it out and you have another 1000 miles to do within the next 24hrs.

    Tape down the bottom of your pants, tape your gantlet gloves down over your jacket, put a strip over the zipper of your fly. Now your waterproof.

  20. Richard says:


    I agree with Chuck Cage: Gorilla tape is a poor substitute for good quality gaff tape. I tried Gorilla tape on a recumbent bicycle seat repair, and ended up ripping it all off: poor adhesion, gummy, stiff texture. All of this made the stuff unpleasant to work with.

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