Episode 126: Duct Tape Hour

Air Date: October 14, 2009

It is possible to lift a 5,000 pound car using nothing but duct tape.


They Mythbusters used many rolls of duct tape to attach a car to a metal beam, which was then hung from a crane. The car was lifted successfully, and was left suspended until the tape failed. The Mythbusters pointed out that the tape tore before its adhesive properties failed.

It is possible to seal leaks in a boat using duct tape.


The Mythbusters patched a damaged boat with duct tape and then floated it in San Francisco Bay. The tape managed to keep the boat afloat, with only minor signs of damage after forty minutes of use. Adam then decided to test whether duct tape can seal an existing leak while the boat is still in the water. Adam noted that it was more difficult to get the duct tape to stick underwater, but successfully patched the leak. However, the “emergency” fix wasn’t nearly as effective and the duct tape quickly failed. The Mythbusters concluded that duct tape was a viable temporary repair method when applied in dry conditions.

It is possible to build a working sail boat out of nothing but duct tape.


The Mythbusters built an entire sailboat using 690 square feet of duct tape for the hull and sail. They then took the boat, dubbed the Stuck on You, into San Francisco Bay. The duct tape boat showed no signs of failure, confirming the myth.

It is possible to build a working cannon out of nothing but duct tape.


The Build Team created a small scale test cannon using inch thick tiles of duct tape. Tests confirmed that the duct tape was strong enough to withstand a cannon blast. Next, they built a larger duct tape cannon having a two inch thick barrel. They compared the performance of this cannon to a conventional steel cannon. While it didn’t perform as well as the steel cannon, the duct tape cannon stayed intact and managed to successfully fire a cannonball.

A potato cannon constructed using duct tape will fire as well as one constructed with glue.


The Build Team took a regular potato cannon and cannon constructed with duct tape and fired them repeatedly to compare their performance. After measuring the average velocity of the potatoes as well as the distance traveled, the Build Team concluded that the duct tape and glue potato cannons were essentially identical.


  1. Dennis says:

    About the amazing Duct Tape program:
    Very impressed, but puzzled.
    Several years ago a show called “Junkyard Wars” had several contests where duct tape was used in construction of water borne vehicles – in ALL cases the many layers of tape failed in minutes and fell away from what it was bonded to.
    I just tried to find out what kind of tape you used and also looked up numerous tapes. Apparently 3-M alone has several grades of tape as well as some with very high adhesiveness qualities, as well as several thicknesses from 15 mil up to 80 mil.
    SO, … what tape were you using and where would it stand in the wide selection of duct tape qualities. It would be a nice follow-up to demonstrate the differences between cheap, moderately priced, and expensive tape. Your information would change my opinion about duct tape – your demonstration of a duct tape boat was amazing – your demo on water craft repair was good too.
    Thanks so much!


  2. Ben says:

    Amazing! That was an interesting episode. :) Hmmm.. could duct tape also make a small chamber air-tight? Or is that impractical?

  3. Hillary says:

    The tape used was Nashua 357 duct tape made by Berry Plastics Corporation. It’s a 13 mil premium grade product available at True Value stores, and through industrial & HVAC supply stores (like Grainger, Johnstone Supply, etc. So definitely not your cheap economy-grade product but not a super-premium tape either. Traditional duct tapes (PE Coated Cloth with rubber-based adhesive)on the market today will range in thickness from the cheapest at around 5 mils to the heaviest at around 17 mils.

  4. Elizabeth LeClerc says:

    I thought that the duct tape show should have multiple episodes.

    I’m enjoy your shows. When Mythbusters first started, more scientific exlanations were used.

    Please remember when exploring ancient inventions, the inventions took much more time and were consistently of higher quality…similar to the work intensive paper boat and then your recent duct tape boat.

    I remember your appearances on EX-FILES. Have you redone some of those ‘explanations’. Have you already showed the ‘destroyer bot’? Will you try to improve it by using solar energy?

    Thanks for the memories…how about a montage of of a months’ worth in past years as ‘filler’ episodes listed by: “Now these are the myths we labeled and worked on the first year(etc.) for the first month (etc)…”.

    Keep up the good work and don’t allow the director, producer make you caricatures of yourselves!

  5. H says:

    Maybe if you put something in the middle of the duct tape cannon, like plastic wrap or something, it would reduce the stickiness inside and fire the cannonball farther?

  6. Eliseo Rios says:

    I’ve heard from some of my friends that travel alot by car that if you get close enough to a traveling tractor trailer, the turbulance coming off the back of the trailer will pull you thus saving you gas. Do you guys think this can be true or its a total Myth?

    • captianscifi says:

      That is a good way to ‘rear-end’ a truck if the driver puts his brakes on. Let’s see save $20 on gas and get a ticket, wreck front end of car and insurance rate goes up. That leaves you a $1500-$20 =$1480 loss.

  7. ibob says:

    It is a well known racing technique. The chase car uses the “drauft” of the lead car to save fuel and use a “slingshot” technique to increase its passing speed.
    I beleive it is also called “slipstreaming”.
    You can easily test this by getting into the slipstream of a large vehicle, you can see the decrease in the rpm’s versus speed. Hence, the engine is doing less work to maintain the equivalent speed.

  8. mickeyD says:

    i agree with ibob you could easily go the wrong direction

  9. Dragonfyre says:

    They’ve already done a myth like that…proven to be confirmed, as well.

  10. fewl says:

    You’re not only doing that in tailing, you remove the draft, yes, but that draft also is used by leading car for speed. When u remove it, u ALSO impair the leading car, not just helping yourself, hence the use of it, so frequent. Don’t try that on a large vehicle on the road, as it won’t see you in mirrors, and if they do see you do it, they’ll get peeved, to be polite. Owner operators pay for their fuel. Be kind.

    • Howard Weldon Moore says:

      The reason I would get ma would have nothing to do with fuel loss its that your in my blind spot and being that close and not being able to see around me could cause us to be in a very nasty accident . If a car gets caught under the dot bumper there is no telling how far it would get drug before the truck driver knew you were there. Please follow the 1 Second rule 1 second for every 10 of vehicle length and remember when you pass we are 83 feet long , leave use some room

  11. Stiles says:

    I absolutely love the episode… I’ve been trying to make a kayak on a small budget for years and I never would have thought of using duct tape for the skin… Very creative and good looking :)

  12. David C says:

    How long did the duct tape sailboat float?

  13. thom dail says:

    if you can make cannon out of duct tape.why not a bullet proof vest?

  14. Domination says:

    Can an inch thick tile of duct tape stop a Tomson SMG .45 caliber round? And if not what is the highest caliber it can stop?

  15. awesome! says:

    i saw this last night (may 12, 2010) and the bridge made of duct tape, umm, thats just amazing, and jamie that would suck if u fell because your afraid of hieghts

  16. david b says:

    it possible to seal a leak with duck tape make it thick

  17. Tyler Self says:

    if u can pick up a car can duck tape pick up a semi truck

  18. Daniel says:

    My girlfriend wants to build a boat out of duct tape now. Do you think a boat like theirs would last several trips out on the water? I’m skeptical.

  19. saraaahhhh says:

    Don’t do it!!! You will probably sink within the first 15 minutes! Take my advice!

  20. saraaahhhh says:

    I love mythbusters!
    Keep up the great work!

  21. M.A. says:

    What about making a cork out of the duct tape? Plug it into the hole, no more leak.

  22. Burt says:

    Duck tape only really works well as a Bullet resistant vest if its used with another material. I did some tests but I don’t have the funds to make a perfect armor. The myth guys should do it. They have enough funds to buy some metals and tape.

  23. caleb sewell says:

    yall are awesome we seen the duct tape boat and now we have to build one in science its so cool

  24. Alan Davis says:

    How about combining phone books and duct tape tiles for bulletproof vests?

  25. Allison says:

    u guys r amazing… i watch mythbusters everyday

  26. Sarah says:

    is there any way you can get me the blueprints for the duct tape sailboat? I would really like to try to make one. I think it would be a great summer project.

  27. ?? says:

    Can you bullet proof a car with nothing but duct tape?

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