Shop Tips & Tricks #30: Shop Tips and Tricks #27-B (Stop wasting paint!)

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Blog entry by GnarlyErik posted 04-24-2022 08:19 PM 924 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 29: Large Format Compass & Layout Tools Part 30 of Shop Tips & Tricks series no next part

As a child of a child of the Great Depression, I have a deeply ingrained respect for conservation of resources.

I save the smallest bit of usable wood for example, never throw nails away after pulling any, sweep up my sanding dust for glue filler/expander and all sorts of things like that. Maybe I do go overboard with it, but the fact is I simply cannot bear to see anything go to waste.

One thing which has always annoyed me is that it is next to impossible to use all the paint out of a can unless you use it all in one go. If you’re doing touch-up, or just use an ounce or two for something, you’re almost guaranteed to have a film form over what’s left in the can. Guess what that film is made of? Why it’s paint of course – paint that you probably paid good money for! It’s easy to waste up to a quarter of a quart can of paint if you use it only an ounce or two at the time.

I’ve tried all kinds of things to combat wasted paint over the years. None of them work as well as I want. I even published a blog entry on this very subject in my Lumberjocks blog a couple years ago.

I did discover that you can buy a sprayable gas to squirt into your paint can after you’ve used some which is supposed to prevent a film from forming by replacing the air in the can, but that seems like a partial fix to me. But a couple weeks ago I stumbled across something which seems to be working a charm for me, at least in the short term so far. In a hobby store I bought some tempura paint for something or other, and it came in a 4-ounce plastic tube with a closable cap.

“Hmm?” I sez to myself. “Duh! So, THAT’S why expensive artist’s paints come in tubes! I wonder if I can clean these tempera tubes out and use them for my oil-based paints?”

I use high-quality oil-based paints and varnish almost exclusively for my work, and cost is one big reason I try not to waste any of it. However, I could see no easy way to clean out the tempera pouches, or get my oil-based paint into the tubes afterwards. So, I started researching resealable plastic pouches and lo and behold, guess what?

By golly, there really are such things made for, of all things, baby food! I ordered a set of six in the seven ounce size to give it a try. They work like a charm! They refill from the bottom with the nozzle cap in place (important!), and since after they are filled they are turned cap side up, all the air rises to the nozzle end where it is squeezed flat. The pouches seal completely with no leakage whatsoever. The paint can be used in any amount, from almost a drop or two to the full amount that’s left in the pouch. There is almost no air at all left in the tube when the cap is replaced, therefore no skim can form. If paint starts to firm up in the nozzle area it is easily pulled out since it does not stick to the plastic nozzle or pouch itself. I haven’t tried cleaning out any of the pouches yet, but don’t see why I should need to do so, since I will merely refill them when they run low.

I got the ‘WeeSprouts’ brand and those are just perfect! They are designed to be frozen so the plastic is tough and thick. The cost was around $11 for a set of six (I bought a second set after I tried the first ones). There are clear spots in the pouches which allows the color of the paint inside to be seen. When filling, do not fill to more than 3/4 full since when the zip closure is made it will squeeze the paint out. The pouches also allow you to save the leftovers for special custom blended colors for repeats or touch-ups. What’s not to love?

There are other brands which fill from one side, but I cannot see how those could work as well although I haven’t tried any.

I also save my empty plastic pill bottles which I cut in half on the bandsaw and then use the bottom part for small paint jobs. Small paper cups work too, but the plastic ones will sometimes melt depending on the paint which is put in them.

-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"

4 comments so far

View tyvekboy's profile


2185 posts in 4509 days

#1 posted 04-25-2022 01:21 AM

That is such a great idea. I also found gallon bags but they don’t have the zip lock bottom opening like the ones you found. I think they’d work too as all the air can be forced out after filling with paint or other liquid.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View Sylvain's profile


1684 posts in 3995 days

#2 posted 04-25-2022 01:26 PM

Very interesting.
Didn’t know such pouches exist.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn (and that is nice)

View BigAl98's profile


311 posts in 4535 days

#3 posted 04-26-2022 05:06 PM

What a great idea! Tx’s

-- Al,Midwest -To thine own self be true

View Vuddha29's profile


59 posts in 453 days

#4 posted 04-27-2022 08:43 AM

Thanks for sharing, great idea!

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