Problem: we keep all our knives scattered in a drawer. Or perhaps more accurately, stuck in the utensil holder of the dish washer.

Some cons:

  • slightly dangerous to have these (slightly) sharp objects rattling around
  • not great for the knives to have their blades collides frequently with other metal / hard objects
  • knives grind into the plastic of the dish washer utensil holder

We use primarily Ikea knives. After sharpening, they lose their edge after a week or so. Thus, on the path to a better kitchen, I wanted to take better care of our knives. I wanted something to hold our knives.

There were a lot of options available. First was looking at the available market. Most commercial products took 2 forms: the knife block and the magnetic rack.

As we are renting an apartment, drilling a rack into one of the cabinets wasn’t quite an option. Abusing a ton of command strips to adhere a magnetic strip to the wall wasn’t too trustworthy an option either. The magnet was out. The knife blocks were too inflexible for our knives (@VeggieCleaver), too expensive, and/or took up too much counter space.

Thus I moved on to custom options.

knife tube

I prototyped a knife tube. It was a bunch of skewers nested tightly within a paper tube. The knives insert snugly between the skewers. This worked quite well for the smaller knives. It was espeically nice as a carrying case in backpack when I brought a knife to friend’s place for cooking. The tube didn’t prove much help with the larger knives though. The dimension of the tube also prevented it from standing upright - thus the tube also just rolled around the cabinet with the other knives.

I thought about making a traditional knife block. I could use a laser cutter to cut out the cross sections, calculus style. Either direction of cuts though would require a fair amount of craftsmanship / precision to put together. I also considered a knife rack - the complexity is fairly low. This style however would require the most counter space.

Counterspace was actually pretty key. So why not make more counterspace?

Knife rack

I decided to take advantage of the space between my counter and fridge to create a hanging knife rack. The complexity was also fairly low - requiing only one slit per wood to be aligned. To make sure the knives didn’t fall over, I wanted dividers. I could’ve just cut specific sized holes for the each knife - that’s what knife blocks usually do - but I wasn’t sure I knew exactly what sizes / arrangement would be best. What if I got more (hopefully better) knives in the future? Thus, I cut one of the layers with slots for little wooden skewer segments as dividers. I could customize and resize as much as necessary. The cheap soft rolling wooden skeweres were also slightly better for the knife blades than hard plywood.

Knife rack profile

This is the result after laser cutting and assembly with some nuts, bolts, and wood glue.

With a little readjustment of the fridge, the knife holder stays wedged in fairly nicely. It definitely could use a few more layers to keep it from twisting and falling out of the crevice. Currently the steel in the back ensures that it would come tumbling all the way down.

Something I realized as soon as I started putting knives in the rack, is that it’s fairly difficult to know where to put each knive. The dividers are 2 layers below surface level and hidden. Regular knive block slits don’t have this problem. The solution for the next iteration is to construct the holder out of acrylic. Then the dividers will be visible through the translucent platic. Acryllic also seems more appropriate for a surface that’s around food and water a lot.