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View Full Version : Palette knives do RUST


asnowfall
07-15-2007, 12:10 PM
Even pallette knives rust !!!
In last six months I purchased steel palette knives from popular chain art stores in US(ACmoore and Blick). All these knives started showing signs of rusting after staying in water for just over 24hours.

How to identify them?
These dreaded palette knives can be easily spotted, they have royal looking wooden handle and bronze cap at the neck. Plate could be made of any metal or shining steel.
Looks like every retail chain gets from the same supplier.

Pictures...
I have loaded the pictures of non-steel palette knives. Last night I returned back the steel knives; and forgot to take pictures.
http://www.asnowfall.com/rust/_IGP4674.JPG (http://www.asnowfall.com/rust/_IGP4674.JPG)
http://www.asnowfall.com/rust/_IGP4677.JPG (http://www.asnowfall.com/rust/_IGP4677.JPG)
http://www.asnowfall.com/rust/_IGP4678.JPG (http://www.asnowfall.com/rust/_IGP4678.JPG)

Response from stores...
In one of the chain-store, worker did not even appear to be surprised and she suggested me to look on the knife for supplier name and call him.
but there was not anything readable.

In an another chain-store, worker expressed his concerns towards the bad state affairs and gave me the corporate telephone number of store chain.

I know it was not this way 2 years back, so now I am looking for pre-owned palette knives.. :-)

bye
Ramesh

idylbrush
07-15-2007, 01:06 PM
Ideally you shouldn't leave a knife in water. You shouldn't even dip in water if you can avoid it. A good wipe with a papertowel or a cloth should clean it sufficiently.

There are high quality knives that are significantly better but you need to be aware that it may cost a few dollars. These are not your 2.99 specials. It can cost upward of 30.00USD to get a good quality knife.

Cleaning your knives regularly and avoiding setting them in water is a solid solution. I have inexpensive knives I have used for 25 plus years.

Liquitex has just introduced a somewhat better quality knife at a fairly good price which might be of some value.

I can't think of any piece of equipment that can withstand extended abuse.

Would you leave a screwdriver in water?

Paulafv
07-15-2007, 01:15 PM
I'm with Howard regarding not leaving any knives in water to soak. Even the best stainless steel will eventually rust if abused or left soaking with non-stainless steel materials subject to rust. You usually get what you pay for, and sometimes you get something excellent for little money, but not too often.
Buyer beware always.

asnowfall
07-15-2007, 01:34 PM
>Would you leave a screwdriver in water?
I am not a mettalurgy expert, essentially screw driver and palette knives could both be metal, but maker should take the usage in to account.

I had a $4 knive, purchased from same store, yes on a sale, which used to spend atleast 2days in water without getting tainted; and this prooves that you can make such ones.

>There are high quality knives that are significantly better but you need to >be aware that it may cost a few dollars. These are not your 2.99 specials. >It can cost upward of 30.00USD to get a good quality knife
If the cheap ones are supposed to get rusted, I do not know why the store worker was astonished to see them...

bye
Ramesh

Eggy
07-15-2007, 01:52 PM
Gosh ! Art materials seem so much cheaper in the US of A than here in England. I have never bought a palette knife for less than 25 and the cheap ones are about 4.00 (unless one buys plastic ones).
Looking at art materials on the websites in America and comparing these with ours: you cetaintly have no reasons not to paint. Some students are heartbroken at how much they have to spend on student paints, let alone artists' paints.
I might give a talk about this subject at some point.
Italy and France are quite expensive, but Britain must rate as the most expensive country to buy art materials from.
As an artist and a critic, I have ofetn been told: "Ah, I did this using student quality paints because I cannot afford the "real thing", but that is another story. My philosophy is: limit your palette and try and get the best quality you can....you learn a lot that way, too.

Kind regards,
Eggy

timelady
07-15-2007, 02:57 PM
I could have told you this. :) I leave mine in water all the time (in fact my knives and brushes live in the water). The ones in your pictures are the worst offenders! I only buy ones that do not have the round stem, so perhaps mine are painting knives rather than palette knives? I'm not sure, but I get the ones where the flat edge narrows into the stem, still flat though, and attaches into the handle. I have another reason for this though, which is that I tend to snap off the round-stemmed ones through repetitive force.

As for rusting, I found the teflon coated ones to be much better. Again, this is from someone leaving them in water 24 hours a day 7 days a week, for the most part. Generally over here at least art store workers aren't terribly knowledgable. When I went for replacement teflon knives I couldn't find them; the staff worker said I shouldn't bother as they're just more expensive with no benefit. So WE need to know our tools.

On that note... I know my tendencies so would rather replace 5 knives often than invest in a 25 one knowing I'll still just treat it poorly. ;)

Tina.

Einion
07-15-2007, 03:34 PM
You might like to have a quick look at this prior thread: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3780091#post3780091

...but maker should take the usage in to account.
They do. Most of these knives are made with the oil painter in mind ;)

In addition to the simple presence of water acrylics are quite strongly alkaline and this hastens the formation of marks on the surface of steel knives; I've seen this happen in only minutes. So what you need to look out for, for acrylics, are painting knives made of stainless steel or those plated with nickel or chrome.

Even so you can quite easily use carbon-steel knives with acrylics, just don't leave them sitting in water for long periods or in contact with acrylic paint for longer than necessary.

Einion

Eggy
07-15-2007, 03:39 PM
It also very much depends how often you use them.
Tina, you sound as if you use them much more than I do !
I know of an artist who does exactling what you do (leaves them in water) and he said to me the secret of their long live is a drop or two of vinegar in the jar !!! That is his idiosyncracy.

Kind regards,
Eggy.

howyadoin
07-15-2007, 04:13 PM
Those knives look a lot like Grumbacher knives. I've got one that I've been using for 15 years, and there's not a spot of rust on it.

You can probably guess why.

idylbrush
07-15-2007, 05:19 PM
>Would you leave a screwdriver in water?
I am not a mettalurgy expert, essentially screw driver and palette knives could both be metal, but maker should take the usage in to account.

I had a $4 knive, purchased from same store, yes on a sale, which used to spend atleast 2days in water without getting tainted; and this prooves that you can make such ones.

>There are high quality knives that are significantly better but you need to >be aware that it may cost a few dollars. These are not your 2.99 specials. >It can cost upward of 30.00USD to get a good quality knife
If the cheap ones are supposed to get rusted, I do not know why the store worker was astonished to see them...

bye
Ramesh


There is a difference between use and abuse.

Rettakat
07-15-2007, 05:58 PM
I was given a palette knife (looks about the same shape and size as in the jpg Ramesh posted) back in about 1965...that's over 40 years of on-again off-again useage!

It is my very favorite... well worn, all writing long since worn off the handle, but not a speck of rust!!

I don't leave it in water, just do the paper towel thing to clean it.

Occasionally, I am guilty of not getting all the acrylic off...it dries hard and I have to LIGHTLY touch it up with fine sandpaper...then I give it a tiny massage of oil, wipe it clean, and voila! Back in business.

Think cast iron skillet: water left on them will cause rust. Then you have to get the rust off, and "cure" it again with a tiny bit of oil, rubbed on and off with paper towel. (no, I don't heat the palette knife like I would the skillet).

Well, it works for me, anyway. :D

laudesan
07-15-2007, 09:07 PM
I just broke the handle off my favourite palette knife using it for a non painting activity :( I was pushing down on it to push this bird seed/white glue mix down into the margarine container that I use to make seed balls for the parrots in my garden when "ping" broke clean off at the handle.. Sure surprised me as I didn't press that hard.. (bird seed and glue everywhere :o

timelady
07-16-2007, 04:43 AM
howyadoin - I don't thnk they're Grumbacher, or at least there are brands that look similar. This looks like a very common cheap brand here too, though I can't remember who makes them. My knives are all packed so I can't check any handles for a brand if I still have one like this.

I agree that on the whole they are made for purpose. Oil painters. And acrylic painters are not expected to leave their knives in water. A case of knowing your own habits and dealing with it I think.

There is a difference between use and abuse.
Heh. My behaviors definitely falls under "abuse". :) I'm okay with that. My poor brushes can sit in water for weeks. Don't send the art tools police!

Tina.

howyadoin
07-16-2007, 05:01 AM
howyadoin - I don't thnk they're Grumbacher, or at least there are brands that look similar. This looks like a very common cheap brand here too, though I can't remember who makes them. My knives are all packed so I can't check any handles for a brand if I still have one like this.On closer inspection it looks like you're right. The ones shown in this thread seem to have the blade welded onto the piece of metal that extends out of the handle, whereas with mine that's all cast in one piece.

The rest of my point still stands, though.

Einion
07-16-2007, 04:40 PM
I was given a palette knife (looks about the same shape and size as in the jpg Ramesh posted) back in about 1965...that's over 40 years of on-again off-again useage!
Showoff :D

Now that is what I call a good lifespan for a tool!

Occasionally, I am guilty of not getting all the acrylic off...it dries hard and I have to LIGHTLY touch it up with fine sandpaper...
That's what my fingernails are for :lol:

Think cast iron skillet: water left on them will cause rust. Then you have to get the rust off, and "cure" it again with a tiny bit of oil, rubbed on and off with paper towel.
Aye. What amazes me is both how quickly this can happen and that this is through the carbonised surface that these are so highly prized for (rightly so).

Einion

Silent Jaguar
07-17-2007, 01:29 PM
In my less affluent days, I used stainless steel butter knives which never rusted like my palette knives.... Now that you reminded me of my plight with the artist's knives, I may go back to using the butter knives!!

Enchanted
07-17-2007, 08:26 PM
What am I missing here? Or maybe it's just me who is dense?

Why leave knives in water??? I can think of no reason for doing so since they are so easily cleaned, even after paint dries on them.

Incidentally - the knives pictured are not "palette knives" but "painting knives." This implies a highly flexible "spring steel" used in their manufacture, and the reason for the weld. The weld is different metallurgically than the blade or the shaft and more prone to corrosion due to that slight difference (think galvanic cell).

:wave:

asnowfall
07-18-2007, 01:57 AM
...that's over 40 years of on-again off-again useage!
This might dissapoint art material makers:D

Silent Jaguar
07-18-2007, 03:27 AM
What am I missing here? Or maybe it's just me who is dense?

Why leave knives in water??? I can think of no reason for doing so since they are so easily cleaned, even after paint dries on them.

Incidentally - the knives pictured are not "palette knives" but "painting knives." This implies a highly flexible "spring steel" used in their manufacture, and the reason for the weld. The weld is different metallurgically than the blade or the shaft and more prone to corrosion due to that slight difference (think galvanic cell).

:wave:

Sometimes knives get forgotten after being dropped into the water once the focus of attention sets on the painting rather than on the proper use of the artist materials.

timelady
07-18-2007, 05:09 AM
Enchanted: 2 reasons for me.

1. Urgency while painting - if I need to work very fast or am on a roll I don't want paint to dry on the knife so bung it into the bucket. Sometimes I have mere seconds to get out some more paint and complete a glaze before things start drying on the canvas. The knife is not my concern - if I don't finish the glaze or start getting dried edges an entire canvas can be ruined the way I work.

2. I forget. I turn away from a painting and that's it - the entire palette, bucket and work is forgotten about if I get distracted. I have left the flat for a couple hours mid-painting, having walked away between layers and decided to do something else, and forgotten that there is tons of mixed paint that should have been covered gone dry. Sometimes the next day I'm cursing myself but that is my life.

Tina.