Sunday, May 15, 2011
Palette knife customization
Above is an ordinary palette knife. I have been breaking these frequently enough that I needed to come up with a better solution. The first one of these I bought about forty years ago lasted me twenty years, the second, lasted perhaps ten years, the third about a year. Recently they have been breaking in a matter of weeks. The last one I bought broke the first day I used it. The part that breaks is where the tang (the wire neck that runs from the handle) is soldered to its spatulate blade. The second problem with these is that the tang, being round, breaks free from whatever glue holds it inside the handle and begins to swivel. That makes them useless too.
There are better palette knives made by Liquitex that have a flat one piece tang and a larger handle. They don't have a round tang that can become loose and turn in the handle during use and there is no weld where the tang meets its blade. Since I am 32 feet tall and weigh over 1600 pounds, I like that bigger handle too.
Below is one of those knives, the blade is huge, about 4 1/2 inches long. I like to clean my palette with it and use it for tubing paint, but it is really too large to use mixing piles of paint while I am working. This knife costs about six dollars, so it is inexpensive. These Liquitex knives are available through Jerrys artarama and many other places.
I put one of these knives in my bench vise and using an airplane shears, and a tin snips, available at any hardware store, I cut it down. First I drew on the blade with a felt tip pen the new profile I wanted, then carefully snipped it down to that profile. Next I touched it up with a file until it was smooth. I wouldn't want to use a grinder to do this though, I am afraid I would take the temper out of the steel blade if I heated it up too much. You want to be careful to keep your hand from slipping into the blade as you do this, of course.
Below is my custom palette knife with flat tang and power-grip handle. the reshaped blade is now three inches long. Of course you can create any shape or size blade you want this way. I think I have solved that problem and expect the new knife to last for many years.