- Improper storage causes knives to get dull quickly and can be dangerous.
- There are several methods for knife storage, including knife sheaths, rolls, blocks, and magnetic holders.
- Magnetic knife holders offer an easy-to-clean surface and are great space-saving tools.
With all thriving collections, there’s a point when storage becomes a problem. This holds true for everything from postage stamps to limited-edition sneakers, and it’s definitely true for kitchen knives. Proper knife storage is all about keeping them separated so you can keep them in mint condition.
Kitchen knives need their own space. Separate storage prevents them from clinking against other objects and ruining their sharp edge. Yes, their blades will eventually dull in time, but it should be from actual use, rather than sitting in a heavily-jostled drawer.
Keeping knives — or any sharp objects, for that matter — in drawers is not a good idea, unless something is used to protect the cutting edge or hold it in place.
Knife Storage Options
The aim of any storage option is to preserve your knife's sharp edge as much as possible. And thankfully, there are a number of ways to do this. From simple cloth wraps to top-rated magnetic strips, we look at each of the different storage options below.
The simplest storage method is to slip each knife into a sheath or guard wrap. These are essentially sleeves that cover the entire knife blade, protecting it from direct contact with other utensils. A good sheath fits snugly on the blade and is made of durable material that can be easily washed. Some Japanese knives even come with wooden sheaths, called “sayas,” that are handmade for specific knife styles.
Chef’s Knife Roll
Next up from the sheath is a chef’s knife roll. When open, the knife roll presents a row of slot pockets in which you can insert your knife blades. When rolled, it forms a thick log — about the diameter of a medium bagel — with all the knives securely in their pockets.
Knife rolls are usually made of thick, specially-coated cloth or leather. While great for travel, they can get tedious for home cooking. You don't want to constantly roll and unroll your entire knife set when all you want is a single paring knife.
Knife blocks are a common storage method (this is likely because many knife sets come with one). They are typically a solid chunk of wood with enough horizontal or vertical slots to hold a complete knife set. Designed to sit right on your countertop, knife blocks provide organized and convenient access to your cutlery.
However, the slots make cleaning difficult — knife blocks are said to be one of the germiest places in your kitchen — and can be limiting once you start expanding to other knives of different sizes and shapes.
In-drawer blocks provide a more discreet, space-saving option. Many people already store their knives in kitchen drawers. In-drawer blocks improve on this with slots that secure knives in place, keeping their blades — and your fingers — safe.
An in-drawer block does require a separate drawer solely for knives. The block should tuck neatly inside the drawer, so make sure to take note of the drawer’s exact measurements.
Magnetic Knife Holders
Not many kitchens have extra counter space or drawers to spare, but they do offer a good amount of open wall space. Space is one of the reasons magnetic knife holders are our favorite means of storage. They are also the most elegant, being basically a long magnetic strip that attaches to the kitchen wall.
Magnetic knife holders stand out for their versatility. Not only can they be wall-mounted anywhere — horizontally or vertically on walls, cabinets, or even the side of a refrigerator — they also come in so many styles. And because they’re magnetic, you can also use them to store other metal kitchen tools, like shears, whisks, or pizza cutters.
Out of all the options, magnetic knife holders are the most hygienic. Cloth and thick blocks of wood are breeding grounds for bacteria and an easy place for food bits to get stuck. Magnetic knife strips, on the other hand, are an easy clean. They dry quickly and naturally, since they’re wall-mounted in open air.
Things to Consider When Buying a Magnetic Knife Holder
The lengths of magnetic knife bars are vast — you can find ones ranging from 10-24 inches. Shorter ones are great for casual cooks with a few knives or even to use in pairs (wall-mounted on top of each other in rows), while one long magnetic bar can also hold your frequently-used utensils, as well as help visually widen the kitchen space.
Some models even offer removable, slidable hooks that act as utensil holders, providing a more robust kitchen storage option.
Magnetic knife holders come in different surface materials — most commonly plastic, aluminium, stainless steel, or wood. Plastic is usually cheaper and lower quality, but comes in many colors, shapes, and styles.
Aluminium and stainless steel bars are also quite affordable, but still long-lasting and low-maintenance. They provide a clean, somewhat commercial appearance and are often the choice for professional kitchens.
Wood models are more expensive and, as mentioned, harder to clean. But they do have a warmer appearance and will look right at home in most classically-designed kitchens.
Popular brands include Ouddy and Modern Innovations (for stainless steel), and Norpro (for aluminium and wood).
Cutlery sticklers prefer the edges of their knife blades to never touch any metal at all, whether magnets or stainless steel. If you’re of the same mind, it’s good practice to place your knife on the magnetic strip starting at the spine-edge, and gently roll the blade down until it’s completely laying down on the holder.
The majority of experts don’t notice any difference among the surface materials. When it comes to functionality, what’s important is the magnet. You want a medium-strength, heavy-duty magnet that won’t leave knives swinging at the slightest nudge, but also won't put up a fight every time you want to cook.
A notably strong magnet is the neodymium magnet. Also used in computer hard disks and MRI machines, neodymium is the strongest type of permanent magnet commercially available.
As opposed to other weaker varieties, like ceramic magnets (used in fridge magnets) or samarium-cobalt magnets (found in headphones), neodymium magnets are the stronger choice for a reliable magnetic knife holder. And if properly taken care of (meaning no cracks or breakage), neodymium magnets retain their force for several lifetimes.
Ideally, a powerful magnet should cover the entire knife strip and not just be placed at intervals. Full magnetic strips are able to hold metal knives securely at every part of the strip, and offer increased strength overall. Take note that some models leave 1-inch of unmagnetized “dead spots” on each end.
Often overlooked, yet absolutely important, is the strip depth. You want your knives against the wall, but not so close that you scrape your knuckles against the wall trying to remove them. A depth of about three-quarters of an inch gives an ideal clearance that’s user-friendly and still maintains a slim profile.
Magnetic knife holders are generally easy to install, and come with the necessary mounting hardware (usually screws) to wall-mount the strip yourself. If you’d rather not bore holes through your walls or are sticking the magnetic bar onto the side of a refrigerator, look for a double-sided magnetic model or those that use Command strips. Just make sure to test the finished mounting for stability and safety.
Installing a Magnetic Knife Holder
Now comes the fun part. Where should you hang your knife holder? On the backsplash above the sink, below the kitchen cabinets, near the stove — the choices are many.
Let’s start with places you should not hang them — avoid low areas where a child can easily reach up and grab onto a knife, areas near heat sources (like a griddle or oven) that may weaken the strip’s magnetic strength, and high-traffic areas where knives can easily be bumped.
Instead, look at the walls near your usual prep station or spaces that are currently under-utilised.
A convenient spot would be above the sink — a space that is also inaccessible to small children, and easy for you to return the knives to after washing and drying. The magnetic holder can also be placed near with other kitchen gadgets (cutting boards, juicers, Instant Pots) to keep your kitchen clean and organised.
If you have a more compact kitchen, consider hanging the knife holder right below the cabinets, or even on the side of the cabinets themselves. These areas are seldom used — or even noticed — and good for keeping the knives out of plain sight.
Small spaces, however, aren’t ideal for keeping large or long knives. If you have lots of these, look for taller wall areas on which you can hang the knife bar vertically, with the large knives placed crosswise. Just make sure all the knives point toward a corner or in a direction where they won’t poke anyone.
Once your magnetic knife holder is firmly in place, take time to enjoy your handiwork. Play with different utensil arrangements until you find the one that works best.
Keep Your Cutting Edge
There are many ways to store your favorite kitchen knives properly, but magnetic knife holders are our favorite. They have so many benefits — from sanitary to space-saving — and just as many varieties. Whether you prefer gleaming stainless steel or a wood finish that matches your walnut cabinets, there's a perfect magnetic knife holder for every kitchen.