By Anna Stockwell, Epicurious
If you love your knives, you probably already know the basics: Have them sharpened regularly. Keep them out of the dishwasher. Don’t leave them in the sink. Dry them before storing them. But hold on a sec—just where are you storing those essential kitchen tools? Finding the right home for your knives is more than just a question of kitchen organization. The right knife storage can help your knives stay sharper longer—and help your kitchen look sharper, too.
There are three basic ways you can store your knives: On the wall, in a drawer, or on the counter. The good news is, there are storage products that can help you make each scenario work for you and your knives. As artisan knife maker Bob Kramer told me: “If you take care of them, the knives will do what they’re supposed to do, and that is cut.”
ON THE WALL
If you have the space, a magnetic knife strip mounted on the wall above your counter is a great way to store your knives. It’s Bob Kramer’s preferred method, because all your options are always in clear view. And unlike some of the other storage methods, a magnetic strip enables you to see every inch of every knife, so you won’t have to go searching for the one you want. When picking a magnetic knife strip, keep a few things in mind: You want the magnet to be strong enough to hold your knives securely, but not too strong that the magnetic force will snap the knife to the bar. “If the magnet’s too strong and you’re not careful, there’s a slim chance you could chip the knife,” Kramer explains. To protect your blade from the dreaded “knife slap,” make sure the first thing to hit the magnet and leave the magnet is the blunt backside of the blade rather than the sharp cutting side.
Our favorite: In the Epicurious Test Kitchen, we have a Messermeister Acacia Wood Knife Magnet ($75, messermeister.com) The wood looks great, but it’s also a softer, safer surface for our knives to rest against.
IN A DRAWER
If you have little kids at home, chances are they might want to play with the “shiny swords” on display on the wall. So knife magnets probably aren’t a go in some kitchens. That’s why Kramer uses in-drawer storage for knives in his house. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But you don’t want to let knives just rattle around in a drawer—you need to protect your fingers and the blades by holding your knives in place. For maximum flexibility, look for an in-drawer knife holder with slots that can fit a range of knife sizes. Some in-drawer storage units come with specifically-shaped slots or grooves for specific knives, but if you have your own diverse collection it can be frustrating to try to make your knives fit in these set slots.
Our favorite: We love this Bamboo Knife Dock ($49, containerstore.com). The cork-like material lining is even easier on your blades than wood, and you won’t be constrained to a set amount of storage slots.
ON THE COUNTER
If you have counter space to spare and want to keep your knives within easy reach of your work surface, a counter-top knife block is the way to go. But unless you want to be confined to the limited slots of a knife block set, don’t bother with the one that comes standard with a set of knives. If you’ve been building your own diverse collection of knives, you’ll want a block without pre-sized slots in it. Many countertop knife blocks are diagonally shaped so you can slide knives in and out at an angle, but this takes up a lot of space on the counter. To save space and for a cleaner, more elegant look, choose a block with slots at the top instead. Again, how you place and remove the knives will help protect the sharpness of your blade: when you slide the knife in and out of a slot, press the back side of the knife against the wood instead of the sharp side.
Our favorite: We’re impressed by the Wüsthof Designer 13-Slot Knife Block($199.95, williams-sonoma.com). It’s like a sculpture for your kitchen counter, and the crisscross slot configuration allows you to put any knife anywhere, in whatever way you like.
Related: The Epicurious Knife Guide
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