Sharpen Up

The Most Important Thing to Know About Storing Your Knife

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

You finally took the plunge and invested in a good knife — or maybe a few good knives. Either way, you’ve spent good money and your blades deserve a storage place that will keep their edges pristine for as long as possible. Here’s what not to do, and three ways to do it right.

The (Very) Wrong Way to Store Your Knives

Tossing your knives in a drawer along with other kitchen gadgets and cutlery is a lousy idea. Not only is it a fast pass to the emergency room should you grab the business end of a blade when you are going for the ice cream scoop, but jostling against other metal objects can damage a knife, causing it to become dull more quickly or even causing nicks and notches that will eventually need to be repaired.

The Right Way(s) to Store Your Knives

There are a plethora of knife storage options, from high-tech to high-style, at a variety of price points, and all of them can do the job well if used properly. Ultimately the one that’s right for you is probably a reflection of how much counter or drawer space you’ve got at your disposal.

In a small kitchen a wall-mounted magnetic strip takes advantage of underused spots; if you have the luxury of space, a dedicated knife drawer with slotted inserts or a countertop unit will keep the knives separates and protected.

At the end of the day, though, whichever you choose, storing knives comes down to one thing according to Gerrit Van Kempen of Loaves and Fishes Cookshop in Bridgehampton, NY.

The sharp edge should not touch the storage piece when being inserted or removed, and you should never store a knife so that it is resting on that pointed edge.

Easier said than done. Here’s how three common knife storage solutions rate.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

1. How to Use a Knife Block Correctly

Most knife blocks hold a blade suspended by its handle, so it’s not hurting the blade once it’s safely placed in its slot. But it’s natural (and practically unavoidable) to drag the blade over the bottom of the slot as you’re dropping it in or pulling it out.

Pro Tip: One possible solution, according to Eivin Kilcher, homesteader, knife-maker, and soon-to-be cookbook author, is to insert your knife blade-side up. Another option: Make a conscious effort to press the blunt back edge of the blade up against the top of the slot each time you reach for the knife.

Or, look for a unit that has a cavity filled with thin wooden or plastic rods. These may look funky (I got a bright-red one filled with disposable bamboo skewers), but because they can accommodate blades of any size and keep the knives separated without putting pressure on the metal, they are actually extremely kind to your cutlery (as well as being conversation pieces).

(Image credit: Pam Krauss)

2. How to Use a Magnetic Strip

One alternative that unfairly gets a bad rap is a magnetic strip. These wall-mounted space savers generally have a strong magnet surrounded by two slightly raised metal strips running down the center. Those thin metal strips serve to prevent the blade from coming in contact with the magnet itself; because the cutting edge is slightly angled, unless you slap it onto the holder willy nilly, only the flat of the blade, not the beveled edge, actually touches those strips.

Pro Tip: To make doubly sure the edge doesn’t touch the metal, Van Kempen recommends placing your knife on the strip back-edge first and gently rolling the blade down onto the holder.

If you like the functionality of a magnetic strip but don’t love the look, Loaves and Fishes sells a sexy wood-clad number designed by Pott in consultation with German chef Sophie Weiner (her wood-handled knives are equally swoon-worthy). Not only is it chic as hell, but the wood is also kinder to metal blades.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

3. How to Use a Drawer Insert

The option Van Kempen prefers in his own kitchen is wooden or bamboo drawer inserts. Each knife gets its own slot and the sharp edge is completely protected from jostling or friction.

Pro Tip: The only caveat is the knives should be placed gently down into the openings from above rather than slid in on their edges. And resist the temptation to double up and put multiple knives in a single slot.

In other words, unless you’ve got ample drawer space (or just a few knives), this isn’t going to be your best storage arrangement.

Looking for a few more creative ways to store your knives? Try these!

How do you store your knives? Share with us in the comments!