The question of "what's the best way to store my knives?" comes up whenever I teach my kitchen organizing class, and I never have an answer that I like.
The magnets are easiest access, but can be a problem for pet/kid safety (how are they in earthquakes?), and feng shui says they're an absolute no-no. I've been told that the blocks dull the knives (and they take up counter space, except for that nifty under-cabinet one you showed us!), but they're probably great for ADD-style folks (as are the magnets) -- no drawers to conceal things.
-- organizer Claire Josefine, commenting on my last post about knife storage
I doubt there's any one best way - your choice will partly depend on your kitchen and your sense of aesthetics. But let's address some of the questions raised by Claire - and by others who commented on the last post.
1. Does a knife block dull the knife blades?
Here's what Jeffrey Elliot, executive chef for knife manufacturer Zwilling J.A. Henckels, had to say on the Real Simple web site.
If you prefer a knife block, the slots should be horizontal so the knives slide in parallel to the counter rather than resting on the blade edges, which can dull over time.Of course, Zwilling J.A. Henckels sells a number of knife blocks of the type Elliot recommends - including the one above, made from bamboo.
2. Is a knife block unsanitary?
The only concern I'm reading about is that your normal wooden knife block cannot be cleaned on the inside - at least, not easily. If this bothers you, you'll want to pick another storage mechanism. You could get the germ-eliminating knife block, I suppose - but it's hard for me to be enthusiastic about that one.
3. Isn't there a potential problem of buying a new knife and finding out it doesn't fit in your knife block?
The Ekobo knife block and the Kapoosh knife block, mentioned in earlier posts, address this concern - but some folks aren't too happy with the Kapoosh. Another product that addresses this issue is the knife stand from Tools Design, created for Eva Solo, with both angled non-angled versions, and sold many places online.
4. What can you recommend for someone with ADD?
Here's what Susan Pinsky says in her excellent book, Organizing Solutions for People with Attention Deficit Disorder:
Pare your knife collection down to the four or five that are sharp and that you use most frequently. Do not then leave these fortunate and useful few to rattle around threatening bodily hard with every blind reach into the cutlery drawer; instead store them in a drawer knife block.5. Any other knife storage ideas?
I prefer drawer knife blocks because even with the extra step of opening the drawer, it takes less effort to slide a knife into a long slot open on the top than to stab it from the side into a tiny hole.
Claire got me inspired to dig a bit more, and I found a few things that might be of interest.
I wonder if the knife storage option shown above might help people who don't want to use a knife block or magnets. It still uses a drawer, but it's a drawer associated with a chopping block. Update on June 18, 2011: I'm no longer finding this product on the web, but MIU makes a similar product.
And here's a wall-mounted magnetized knife rack that doesn't have the blades exposed, lessening some concerns about safety and bad feng shui. Update on August 7, 2013: I'm no longer finding this knife rack.
Finally, there are the built-in options, including a knife rack that can be built into the countertop. Or you could get a knife block pull-out cabinet.