Skip to content
What Size Joint Knife Do You Need?

What Size Joint Knife Do You Need?

What Size Joint Knife Do You Need?

When it comes to drywall projects, one of the most crucial tools in your arsenal is the joint knife. But with so many sizes and types available, how do you know which one to choose? We'll examine the specifics of choosing the ideal joint knife size for your requirements in this in-depth tutorial, along with the distinctions between joint knives and drywall taping knives. Whether you're a professional contractor or a do-it-yourself enthusiast, at the conclusion of this article, you will have a thorough understanding of the best equipment for your drywall jobs.

What is a Joint Knife?

A joint knife, often referred to as a putty knife or a spackle knife, is a versatile tool used for applying and smoothing joint compound (also known as mud) over drywall seams and screw holes. It is an essential tool in drywall installation and finishing, helping to create a smooth, even surface ready for painting or wallpapering.

Key Characteristics of a Joint Knife

  • Blade Width: Joint knives come in various widths, typically ranging from 2 inches to 6 inches. The width you choose depends on the specific task at hand.
  • Flexibility: The blade's flexibility can vary. A more flexible blade is ideal for feathering edges, while a stiffer blade provides more control for applying mud.
  • Material: Joint knife blades can be made from stainless steel, carbon steel, or plastic. Stainless steel blades are durable and rust-resistant, making them a popular choice.

What Size Joint Knife for Drywall?

Choosing the right size joint knife is crucial for achieving a professional finish on your drywall project. The size of the knife you need depends on the task you are performing:

2-3 Inch Joint Knives

These smaller knives are perfect for tight spaces and small patch jobs. They are ideal for applying the initial layer of joint compound and for filling nail or screw holes.

4-6 Inch Joint Knives

Mid-sized joint knives are the most versatile and commonly used. They are suitable for applying the first coat of mud over joints and for general patching and repairs. These sizes provide a good balance between control and coverage.

8-10 Inch Joint Knives

Larger knives are used for applying final coats of joint compound and for feathering out seams to create a smooth transition between drywall sheets. They cover a broader area, reducing the number of passes needed and helping to achieve a seamless finish.

Joint Knives (Putty Knives) are often used to spread drywall mud in drywall joints where two sheets of drywall meet. There smaller size allows for spreading the mud into joints and smaller spaces much easier than bigger taping knives. 

Drywall Taping Knife vs Joint Knife

While the terms "taping knife" and "joint knife" are sometimes used interchangeably, they serve different purposes in drywall finishing.

Drywall Taping Knife

A drywall taping knife, also known as a finishing knife, typically has a wider blade ranging from 6 to 14 inches. Unlike joint knives, which often have a more rounded, moon-shaped blade, taping knives are more squared. They are specifically designed for applying joint compound over tape to cover seams between drywall sheets. The wider blade allows for smooth, even application and helps in feathering the edges for a seamless finish. Additionally, taping knives can come not only in the carbon steel and stainless steel like joint knives, but also with blue steel blades, which are known for their flexibility and durability. The flexibility is preferred by some professionals for feathering. 

Joint Knife

As mentioned earlier, joint knives are more versatile, with smaller blades used for patching and initial applications of joint compound. They can also be used for scraping, removing old paint, or adhesive residue.

Choosing the Right Drywall Knife Blades

The material and flexibility of the blade can impact the performance of your joint knife. 

Stainless Steel Blades

Many experts prefer stainless steel blades because they are strong and resistant to rust. They maintain their edge well and provide a smooth finish. 

USG Sheetrock Matrix Stainless Steel Joint Knife

USG Sheetrock Matrix 6" Stainless Steel Joint Knife 

Carbon Steel Blades

Carbon steel blades are typically sharper and more rigid than stainless steel, providing excellent control. However, they can rust if not properly maintained.


USG Sheetrock Classic Carbon Steel Joint Knife

USG Sheetrock Classic 4" Carbon Steel Joint Knife 

Plastic Blades

Plastic blades are lightweight and inexpensive, suitable for small, quick jobs or for use with corrosive materials that might damage metal blades.

Explore the different materials and their benefits in more more detail in our  blog post An Overview of Drywall Taping Knife Materials.

Building Your Drywall Taping Knife Set

Having a well-rounded set of drywall taping knives is essential for any drywall project. A typical set might include:

  • A 2-3 inch knife for small patches and tight areas.
  • A 4-6 inch knife for general patching and the first coat of joint compound.
  • An 8-12 inch knife for final coats and feathering seams.

Such a set ensures that you have the appropriate tool for each stage of the project, resulting in a more efficient workflow and a higher quality finish. Having a complete and well maintained drywall taping knife and joint knife set is needed for professionals to ensure good, quality work. 


Selecting the right size joint knife for your drywall project can make a significant difference in the quality of the finish. Whether you’re applying the first coat of joint compound or feathering out the final layer, using the correct size and type of knife will help you achieve a professional result. Remember to consider the material and flexibility of the blade as well, as these factors can impact your overall experience and outcome. For all your drywall tool needs, Timothy’s Toolbox offers a wide range of high-quality joint knives, taping knives, and more to help you tackle any drywall project with confidence.


1. What size joint knife should I use for small drywall repairs?

For small drywall repairs, a 2-3 inch joint knife is ideal as it provides better control and precision in tight spaces.

2. Can I use a taping knife instead of a joint knife?

While a taping knife can be used for certain tasks, joint knives are more versatile for patching and initial applications of joint compound.

3. What material is best for a joint knife blade?

Stainless steel blades are the most popular due to their durability and rust resistance. Carbon steel blades offer excellent control but require more maintenance to prevent rust.

4. How many joint knives do I need for a drywall project?

It’s best to have a set of joint knives in different sizes (2-3 inches, 4-6 inches, and 8-10 inches) to handle various tasks throughout the project.

Previous article Blue Steel vs. Stainless Steel Taping Knives
Next article A Look at Common Reasons for Drywall Damage

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields

Compare products

{"one"=>"Select 2 or 3 items to compare", "other"=>"{{ count }} of 3 items selected"}

Select first item to compare

Select second item to compare

Select third item to compare