Perhaps the best indicator that a taping knife or putty knife will stand the test of time is full tang construction, which just means that “the metal in the blade goes all the way from the end of the handle to the tip of the blade,” Talbot says. “It’s one solid piece, so it will hold up better under pressure.”
Partial tang construction, on the other hand—which is often found in cheaper knives—features a tang that extends only a short way into the handle. After a few uses, a partial tang handle is likely to work loose, and then you’re stuck having to buy another knife to complete your project. Full tang knives last longer and offer increased leverage when performing tasks that require lateral pressure on the blade, such as prying a baseboard away from a wall. Sometimes, you can look at the handle of the knife from the side to see if the tang runs all the way to the end of the handle, though knives with overmold grips will fully encase the handle portion of the tang. If a knife is made with full tang construction, it should say so on the packaging.