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Stuck on duct tape

We live in a duct-tape world.

Nobody knows that better than the Duct-Tape Guys, Tim Nyberg and Jim Berg.

"It's the ultimate power tool," Nyberg says. "We know; we're duct-tape evangelists."

They're stuck on their favorite subject. The team of brothers-in-law has written seven books (and 15 years' worth of page-a-day calendars) about the ubiquitous tape.

"It's got thousands of uses, including some pretty incredible stuff, but who's counting?" Nyberg says. "It's limitless what you can do."

Their motto: "It's not broke; it just needs duct tape."

It's a perfect philosophy for penny-pinching times, adds Nyberg, which helps explain why they've sold more than 3 million copies of their books and calendars.

"It's a budget stretcher on a roll — and an HMO, too," Nyberg says. "Duct tape is great for wart removal, setting bones and emergency sutures."

Nyberg, 56, and Berg, 46, tape just about everything, from head to toe. They've created entire wardrobes out of duct tape. ("That jacket is really hot," Nyberg admits about his home-show duds, "but it is mostly plastic; duct tape doesn't breathe.")

Their work inspired Duck brand's "Stuck at Prom" contest — students make whole tuxedoes and dresses out of tape — and thousands of Halloween costumes.

Thanks to such inventive uses, duct tape now comes in a wide world of plastic-coated colors. For example, Duck brand offers 20 colors, including — new for 2010 — tie-dye purple-pink.

"Duct tape is intrinsically funny," Nyberg adds. "And it's easily adaptable to any situation."

That's part of the charm of their act, which sticks to crazy uses. For instance, two rubber chickens taped end to end become a "kinder, gentler" martial-arts weapon: "num-clucks."

A duct-tape smoke detector? Try Jiffy-Pop popcorn cans taped to the ceiling.

Picnic pest control? Try a flyswatter taped to the burger flipper.

"We get lots of laughs," says Nyberg. "Our shows are all wacky goofball stuff."

"You should see the looks we get from airport security," Nyberg says.

Duct tape wasn't invented for ductwork, he notes. According to lore, the three-layer tape was developed during World War II to keep moisture out of ammunition cases. The core was made from cotton duck cloth (commonly used for bandages) with a plastic coating on one side and adhesive on the other, hence "duck tape."

Originally made only in camouflage colors, the tape found a postwar career in the booming home-building industry as construction crews used it to patch and seal heating and ventilation ducts. That's when "duck tape" became "duct tape" (and turned silver-gray, to match the ductwork).

Why is duct tape so popular? "It's a quick fix," Nyberg says. "You get it done easily; no other tools needed. If you have no time or skill or tools to do it the right way, just use duct tape."

The most incredible thing they ever made out of duct tape?

"A 15-year career," quips Nyberg. "Duct tape has taken us all over North America and to England and Germany. What other tape could do that?"

Dist. by Scripps Howard News Service