In the 1940s, the United States military asked Johnson & Johnson to devise "a waterproof, strong cloth based tape that could keep moisture out of ammunition cases," according to The result was a superhero adhesive tape made from a rubber-based adhesive applied to a durable duck cloth backing. Originally called duck tape, due to its cotton duck substrate, at some point during the last half of the 20th century it became better known as duct tape, owing to its employment in ductwork.

But over the years something else evolved with the product along with its name. It became the absolute darling of the do-it-yourself set — the indispensable item in the tool box, craft room, car trunk, back pack, sports bag and junk drawer, not to mention submarines and NASA spaceships. It's the sine qua non for emergency hacks and for making do with what you have. And its durability makes it an integral component in extending the usability of broken things, giving them a new lease on life and keeping them out of the rubbish heap. And although to some, duct tape crafts and repairs may scream, "low-rent and tacky," we're seeing a shift in the zeitgeist that suggests a new era of duct-tape chic is in the air. So find some inspiration here and get taping.

1. Fix a leaky boat

boat fixed with duct tape Photo: LexnGer/Flickr

2. Fashion some fisherman sandals

fisherman sandals Photo: Bruce A Stockwell/Flickr

3. Construct dollhouse furniture

dollhouse furniture duct tape Photo: susan402/Flickr

4. Pimp your ride with flashlight headlights

duct tape headlights Photo: Toban Black/Flickr

5. Craft a pretty posy

posy made of duct tape Photo: Cali4beach/Flickr

6. Make a crochet hook or knitting needle case

crochet hook or knitting needle case made of duct tape Photo: Dvortygirl/Flickr

7. Channel your inner Duct Tape Boy with a fancy costume

Photo: &y/Flickr

8. Insulate ventilated biking shoes for cold weather

ventilated biking shoes duct tape Photo: Thirteen Of Clubs/Flickr

9. Create a nifty vegan wallet

nifty vegan wallet Photo: mpolla/Flickr

10. Repair your smashed windshield for the drive to the auto body shop

smashed windshield fixed with duct tape Photo: LongitudeLatitude/Flickr

11. Draft an army of homemade toys

army of homemade toys made with duct tape Photo: Micah68/Flickr

12. Indulge in the 'ol duct tape necktie trick

duct tape necktie Photo: jasoneppink/Flickr

13. Construct a camera bag

duct tape camera bag Photo: [j°Sh]/Flickr

14. Make a set of emergency flip-flops

emergency flip flops made of duct tape Photo: Clint Lalonde/Flickr

15. Make a handbag

duct tape handbag Photo: starshaped/Flickr

16. Build a collapsible lightbox

collapsible lightbox made of duct tape Photo: dpup/Flickr

17. Craft a game or gadget pouch

game or gadget pouch made of duct tape Photo: Derringdos/Flickr

18. And the most practical use of all, tape a gorilla to a tree...

taping gorilla to tree Photo: same_same/Flickr

This story was originally written for Treehugger, Copyright 2012, and is republished here with permission.

18 clever uses for duct tape
Duct tape is the absolute darling of the do-it-yourself set; here are some novel ways to put it to use.