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If it’s good enough for a nuclear power plant it must be good enough for you.  3M designed its Performance Plus Duct Tape to meet the low leechable-halogen-and-sulfur requirements of nuclear power plants.  What does this mean to you?  Besides sounding cool, not much — but the tape has other advantages as well.

You can use the tape permanently or temporarily either indoor or out and for temperatures up to 200°F.  The tape removes cleanly from most opaque surfaces for up to six months, and it’s UV and sunlight resistant up to one year, which means the backing won’t deteriorate or delaminate.  The surface is also writable if you need to mark or label it.

3M uses polyethylene film over cloth scrim for the waterproof backing and a mixture of natural and synthetic rubber for the adhesive.  You can purchase the tape in slate blue or red.   A 60-yard roll of nuclear-grade duct tape will run you about $15.

Nuclear-Grade Duct Tape [3M]
Street Pricing [Google]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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Winter takes its own sweet time coming to Texas, but even here “winterizing” happens — okay, maybe just a little.  Disappearing faucet covers are a big deal because nobody seems to know what the freezeless faucets are for, and window insulation film is a mythical substance.  But if you’ve got a little time and money, these window insulation kits from 3M can save you a bundle on your heating bills.

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Whether you’re an aircraft mechanic, auto mechanic, welder, or DIYer, you’ll eventually need to grind or sand some metal. But what happens when your angle grinder doesn’t offer the finesse you need for a small, intricate job? What happens when you need to get into a hard-to-reach area? Here’s a solution that takes advantage of a tool you already have — 3M’s Roloc drill-mounted grinding/sanding/finishing system.

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Double-stick tape can be a third hand when you’re doing assembly projects. While it holds the pieces, you can work on creating a permanent attachment. 3M’s VHB tapes comes in a variety of double stick flavors, and they can help you out as a third hand — what makes ’em cool, though, is the bond is so strong on VHB tapes, you may not need anything else

VHB stands for “Very High Bond.” You use it in applications where other attachment methods could distort or damage surfaces, and it’s especially suited for attaching to metal and glass. For instance, people stick on their car tags and rearview mirrors with VHB tape. It can create a strong bond in a small area without using hardware. VHB also holds things together in the construction of outdoor signs, appliances, and windows.

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Scotch-Brite abrasive pads work great to put a brushed finish on some of the jewelry I make. Recently I decided to be a bit more scientific — I bought four types, with different degrees of fineness. I used a copper sheet for the quick test. Sterling would’ve been better, but I can’t afford to sacrifice that much to science.

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Synthetic Finishing Pads

With water-based finishes becoming more and more common, it pays to be prudent in your choice of abrasives. For instance, you don’t want to use steel wool on a water-based finish unless you’re a big fan of rust stains.  Luckily, synthetic non-woven finishing pads are gaining in popularity — they don’t share the shortcomings of traditional abrasives.

The non-woven pads won’t shed abrasive particles onto the finish, meaning less prep work before your next coat. And you can wash the longer-lasting synthetic pads, renewing the cutting surface by removing dust and debris.

You can get them in different “grits” for about $1 a pad.

Synthetic Finishing Pads [Rockler]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon(B000H570E2) [What’s This?] [What’s This?]

3M Dual Lock

Having a flashlight or a first aid kit ready to pull off the wall just when you need it is a huge advantage, but most hook and loop fasteners (like Velcro) wear out too quickly, letting your stuff fall off at random moments. But 3M now offers an updated solution: Dual Lock tape. It’s stronger, more heat resistant, and makes a satisfying clunk that lets you know that things will stay where you put them.

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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.

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Eli writes: “If you need to refinish a kitchen full of raised panel doors, an orbital sander is often overkill.  All you need to do is rough up the surface, and a sanding block lets you hit every surface. 3M’s SandBlaster has inserts that lasted me through 27 doors and 11 drawers — a pretty average size kitchen.  I used two pads.  Buy two extra packs of sanding inserts for this job; They come two to a package, and that way you’ll have plenty for the job and refills for the next job.  And remember, even if you paint over wood, you want to brush out the grain.  Roller marks look weird over wood grain.”

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Ok, it looks like the product below — while quite handy for sanding and other particulate-matter-heavy environments — wouldn’t have helped us much with the BMW.  So what should we have used to get those two years back?

The National Ag Safety Database (NASD) has a lot to say on the subject.  They recommend using a respirator with the appropriate chemical type insert for the particular fumes you’re looking to avoid.  (While units like the one in the post below simply remove particles from the air by pulling them through a filter, fumes must be removed by chemical reaction.  Thus, the proper insert will contain chemicals that will react with the one(s) you’re looking to trap, holding them in the cartridge.)

The NASD also recommends a supplied air respirator.  3M makes a truly incredible selection of these, as linked below.  They offer 23 different “headtops” (applications ranging from hoods, visors, and welding visors to helmets) along with multiple lines of supplied-air (and powered-air) systems.  In some configurations, these provide fresh air from a remote source, avoiding entirely the need for a filter.

Cost?  It varies widely based on what you select.  However, an air compressor filtration system, hoses, and headtop can be had for well under $1k, and if 3M makes the appropriate chemical filter for your application — they make many — a powered-air system with headtop can be had for less than $500.

Enjoy that extra two years — we plan on spending them drooling and bitching about the government.

Powered & Supplied-Air Respirators [3M]