The Essentials of Knife Storage For Your Home Kitchen

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Our team spends a lot of time discussing and building content around which knives are “the best of the best.” To be fair, it’s an inexact science. But I’d like to think we’re providing a fair and balanced perspective, and landing as close to the bullseye as one could realistically hit.

Why do I care about finding “the best?”  It’s pretty simple: Using high-quality kitchen knives will make your cooking projects safer, smoother, and more enjoyable. 

But, here’s the thing. If you stop caring about the quality of your knife after the point of purchase, you’re making a big mistake.

Getting a proper knife storage setup is the next step to take. It’ll ensure that your beautiful new knives stay that way for as long as possible. And in this guide, I’ll be covering the four knife storage solutions I’ve used in both professional kitchens and my own home.

Before You Store: Always Keep ‘Em Dry

Unless you take the first step of fully drying your knives after each use, no storage solution will be all that useful. Build a habit of drying your knives to keep them stain- and corrosion-free, and sharper as a result. And yes, this goes for stainless steel knives as well; they just take a longer time to rust or corrode. 

So no matter which of the next four storage solutions you choose, always dry your knives before storing.

Knife Block

For anyone who grew up with their grandmothers cooking for them, the knife block is likely the first knife storage that comes to mind. They’ve been a staple of kitchen countertops for decades, and the centerpiece of knife sets from notable brands.

knife storage - knife block

Advantages: A good knife block can store all of your kitchen knives safely, in one convenient place. They’re a tried and true method for keeping your knives out of harm’s way.

Disadvantages: Home kitchens often have limited countertop real estate, so fitting a whole knife block in can be quite the challenge. Also, knife blocks are usually made to accommodate a specific set of knives from a specific brand. If you have an atypical selection of kitchen knives, you may not be able to find a block that holds them all.

Pro Tips: Store your knives upside down in a knife block, so they’re not resting on their cutting edges. This will keep them razor sharp and ready for action. And if little bits of food or dust accumulate in the knife slots, use compressed air to clean them out.

My Recommendation: Wusthof’s knife blocks have a clean design, and are made from eco-friendly materials. You can find them with a wide range of storage spaces, but I find the Wusthof 13-piece knife block to be a good middle ground. In my opinion, Wusthof’s non-skid feet and slim, angular design make it the safest and most functional choice.

Magnetic Rack

Magnetic knife racks come in two main styles: Wall-mounted versions with metal hardware, and countertop wood-faced blocks. Of the two, I strongly prefer the countertop blocks, as I’ll explain momentarily.

knife storage - magnetic strip

Advantages: A wall-mounted magnetic knife rack is a countertop space saver, and a convenient way to hold any size and shape of knife. Countertop magnetic blocks are slimmer than standard knife blocks, and are easier to clean, too.

Disadvantages: Handled carelessly, wall-mounted magnetic racks can scratch your prized kitchen knives. If your knives are attaching with an audible “snap!”, it’s only a matter of time before they get damaged. That’s why I prefer the countertop-style wood-coated magnetic blocks — they protect your blades from incidental damage.

Home chefs with kids or pets should take note: Both styles of magnetic racks pose a hazard if your little ones can get on your countertops. 

Pro Tip: If you’re using a wall-mounted rack, attach your knives at the spine first, then rotate them to lay flat. This will prevent your blades from getting scratched.

My Recommendation: If you’re keen on saving space with a wall-mounted rack, Mercer Culinary’s 24” Magnetic Knife Bar gives plenty of storage space. Mercer’s magnetic countertop knife block is equally well-equipped and available in three custom sizes.

In-Drawer System

If knife blocks and magnetic racks give you visions of falling knife sets, an in-drawer system will set your mind at ease. Three chefs I’ve worked with have given me personal recommendations to use an in-drawer system for my at-home knife storage, and I’m inclined to follow that advice.

knife storage - in drawer system

Advantages: Lay-flat storage is safe and out of the way, making it an ideal solution for anyone with kids or pets that like getting on countertops. It’s also the easiest way to accommodate a large, specialized knife collection.

Disadvantages: You need a whole extra drawer in your kitchen! If you have a big kitchen, or don’t collect dozens of kitchen gadgets like I do, this may not be a problem. But if you’re cramped for space already, an in-drawer system can feel like it’s taking up too much functional space.

My Recommendation: If you’re looking to store a whole set of knives, Wusthof’s 14-Slot Knife Tray will do the trick. Smaller knife collections can take up just half a drawer with Farberware’s 7-Slot Knife Organizer.

Individual Sheaths

Just starting out with your kitchen knife collection? Then you may not need a big, comprehensive storage solution. Individual sheaths are just the thing for this sort of situation.

knife storage - individual sheath

Advantages: Individual knife sheaths are lightweight, affordable, and easy to travel with. 

Disadvantages: Not having a dedicated place for your knives to live can get irritating, as they’ll usually end up knocking around in a drawer. And if you’re not consistently drying your knives before storing, moisture will get trapped in their sheaths and lead to corrosion.

My Recommendation: You’ll need to choose the right size sheath to fit each knife that you’re trying to protect. Mercer Culinary’s Knife Guards are an inexpensive way to get every size you need.

Knife Bag

Go to any Culinary Institute of America class, and you’ll see every student with their own knife bag. That’s quite the stellar recommendation for this style of storage, even though they’re uncommon for anyone outside the food service industry.

knife storage - knife bag

Advantages: A knife bag is the most portable option for storing your blades. They’re made of heavy-duty cut-proof materials and offer an affordable way to keep all your knives safe and out of the way.

Disadvantages: Top-quality knife bags, usually made of leather, can get quite pricey. Lower quality bags will give your knives too much wiggle room and let them knock against each other. 

My Recommendation: Wusthof’s Knife Roll Bag is just big enough for a focused selection of up to 8 knives. Its sturdy construction and blade-protecting design make it a favorite for professional chefs.

In Conclusion: Choosing the Best Knife Storage For Your Kitchen

Now that you’re up to speed on your storage options, which do you think is best for your knife collection? When I’m helping friends determine that, I ask three questions:

  1. How many knives do you have? Smaller knife sets can be easily stored in individual sheaths, a knife bag, or a small in-drawer system.
  2. How much storage space do you have? A knife block or magnetic knife rack is great if you have plenty of space in your kitchen, and the other options are better for saving space.
  3. Do you need to keep your knives out of reach? Kids, pets, or careless roommates can cause a lot of problems with open storage solutions. If that’s the case for you, go for an in-drawer system or a knife bag.

And if you’re in the middle of each of these, you’re in luck! Because any of these storage solutions will work, as long as you keep your knives clean and dry.

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Brian Adee

About the author

Brian grew up cooking alongside his Mom in the Midwest before moving on to over a decade of kitchen and bar adventures in New Orleans, Chicago, and Portland, Oregon. While he's hung up his apron as a professional in the food industry, Brian continues to innovate and explore in his home kitchen and loves to share meals with friends and neighbors.

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