Gaffer’s Tape

Perhaps it seems a bit silly to write about something as low tech as tape, but here I go. Gaffer’s tape is a special tape that looks somewhat like duct tape. And, yes, it is “duct” tape, not “duck tape; it originated as a product to use for HVAC duct work. Duct tape is the go to repair tool for many people, for many problems. But, duct tape is unusually sticky and leaves a residue when removed. I don’t know when gaffer’s tape was invented, but it is used by gaffers – the electricians and lighting technicians on movie or television productions. This wide tape holds wires, prevents trip hazards and helps maintain a safe work environment when the environment has many wires, cables, and such. I long ago learned about gaffer’s tape when I was working as a photographer. We photographers have an issue with wires too – extension cords primarily. Gaffer’s tape holds the wires in place without leaving a residue, or worse, ruining the finish on wood or other surfaces where wires may be positioned. Gaffer’s tape does this basic job very well, but it comes at a price, usually $15 to $20 a roll, or more! As trial consultants, when we conduct mock jury research, we video (and audio) record the proceedings. We have camera cables, extension cords, and microphone cables in every room – hundreds of feet of cords and cables. We can’t have any accidental falls, so we use lots of gaffer’s tape to hold things in place. The tape gets walked on, and ultimately taken up, wadded into tape balls and goes in the trash having done its job. We probably use 1 to 2 rolls of this tape per project. It is an unsung hero about which I have to train new hires. Use it, don’t waste it, and never substitute duct tape for gaffer’s tape.

I am a huge fan of gaffer’s tape.  It protects Magnus’ mock jurors, clients, employees, and me from tripping over all of the wires and cords that would, absent it, cause a tripping hazard.  I like the fact that it sticks on the heavy industrial carpet found in most hotel and research facility conference rooms.  I also like the fact that it is easily removed and, once removed, leaves no trace of its existence.  The only thing I dislike about gaffer’s tape is its exorbitant cost!  In that David and I buy every single thing Magnus uses, spending $15 to $20 for a roll of tape seems quite extravagant.  (It is easy to brush this aside as long as YOU are not the one paying for everything.)  But, unlike duct tape and one company’s name brand of duct tape, called “Duck Tape” (to capitalize on many people’s ignorance in referring to its product by the misnomer), gaffer’s tape is just sticky enough to do its job of holding things in place without leaving a permanent sticky residue.  Hooray for gaffer’s tape!

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