A flexible spatulate blade of tempered steel with a somewhat rounded end securely set in a strong hardwood handle. Straight and tapered palette knives are made in numerous sizes. The ones most popular amongst artists have blades from 3 – 4 inches long. Some of these are set straight in the handle, whereas others have angular tangs to help prevent the artist’s knuckles from touching the paint.
Palette knifes serves many purposes in art. Quite commonly they are used for handling and mixing paint effectively on a palette. It is also used for mixing paint with other substances, or to create tempura paint with ground pigment and a bonder of some kind (e.g egg).
Palette knifes are also used as a tool for painting, either by applying colours or scraping on canvas, board or other art material. It has also lead to palette knives being termed ‘painting knife’. Undoubtedly palette knives have been used to apply paint to works of art for a long time. The popularity of using palette knives as an art technique on canvas appears to have coincided with the advent of oil painting from tubes from the mid-19th Century and onwards.