drywall knife

What Is A Drywall Knife?

Properly hanging and finishing drywall is, in many ways, an art form. Accomplishing such a feat requires the use of multiple tools, specially designed to aid in endeavors of this nature.

Of these specialty drywall tools, few are as valuable as a quality drywall knife. This extremely important hand tool can literally make or break almost any drywall project.

But what, exactly, is a drywall knife, and what does the average DIY home improvement enthusiast need to know about such equipment?

Simply put, a drywall knife is a bladed device intended for use when spreading drywall mud, drywall joint compound, or spackle. This “knife” is used to scoop compound directly out of the drywall mud pan, before feathering this substance into small holes, indents, and gaps around various fasteners.

A drywall knife can also be used for the same purpose when patching holes in sheetrock.

What Does A Drywall Knife Look Like?

A drywall knife looks similar in nature to a wide-blade putty knife. The majority of today’s drywall knives feature specialized handles, constructed of wood, plastic, or rubber.

This handle ultimately gives way to a blade, which itself is made of stainless-steel, blue-steel, or carbon steel.

The length of a drywall knife’s blade varies from one unit to the next. Those featuring a narrower blade (6” or less), are generally known as joint knives.

Meanwhile, drywall taping knives feature wider blades (greater than 6”). These larger knives are known for the superior finish that they impart, while narrow-bladed knives are better suited to laying drywall corner beads or filling in small holes around fasteners.

What Is A Drywall Knife Used For?

A drywall knife is used to scoop and spread joint compound as needed when hanging sheetrock, wallboard, or drywall. Knives of varying sizes and shapes are used to achieve a clean, desirable finish.

This finishing compound can then be leveled through sanding with the use of various abrasives, such as a sanding sponge, upon drying. This further eliminates any visible imperfections.

The value of a given drywall knife varies by size. Small drywall knives are used for spreading initial layers of mud, and for applying compound to small imperfections in a given surface.

On the contrary, larger drywall knives are primarily used for finishing work. These knives are capable of leveling compound across larger expanses, thereby achieving an even, flowing look. 

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have A Drywall Knife?

If you do not have a drywall knife at your disposal, most any compact object with a straight, flat edge, can be used for the same purpose. In many cases, a basic steel-blade putty knife or fiberglass scraper can be used to complete such a task.

In other instances, something as simple as a ruler or paint stick can be used with similar results.

However, it is worth mentioning that there is little substitution for a complete set of drywall knives when attempting to achieve a clean, seamless finish. Even stainless steel taping knives flex to a certain degree, allowing mud to be effortlessly spread, without imparting excessive defects.

What To Look For In A Good Drywall Knife

A quality drywall knife features a moderate-sized blade and a comfortable handle, yet is also constructed in a durable manner. This ensures that a knife is extremely versatile, yet more than capable of withstanding the test of time.

As such, one can rely upon a drywall knife of this construction, when faced with any number of drywalling chores. To help in the difficult corners one encounters, corner trowels are a must.

This version of a drywall knife is bent at an angle to help one quickly and efficiently spread compound in corners

One of today’s finest drywall knives is the Red Devil Flexible 6 inch Taping Knife. This knife features a highly versatile 6” blade, which can be used for both spackling and finishing work.

This knife also features a solvent-resistant handle that should stand up to a myriad of abuses. If you are currently in search of a premium drywall knife, look no further than the Red Devil Flexible 6 inch Taping Knife.

Conclusion

When hanging drywall, having the proper tools at your disposal is of the utmost importance. This includes the ever-important drywall knife, which serves to erase the vast majority of imperfections left behind during the earliest portion of the mudding process.

Without a drywall knife, one is left to contemplate ulterior ways of applying and smoothing joint compound, few of which are ideal.

If you intend to handle drywall in the near future, or find yourself in the midst of such a project at the current moment, then consider the cost of a quality drywall knife money well spent. At the very least, every avid DIY enthusiast’s tool box should be home to at least one drywall knife, if not several.