Decided our knife block was taking up too much space on the counter. It also interfered with the microwave door if knives weren’t put into specific locations. Another motivation was to store my knives that would also display some of them – particularly some Japanese knives that have some amazing damascus patterns in their steel.
I do have a couple magnetic knife strips designed to just mount on the wall, but unfortunately there was no convenient wall large enough to hold the strips. The strips are also bare metal, and thought they might not be too kind on the knife blades. My approach would be to insert magnets from the back of the rack, so the knives only contacted wood. I also wanted the knife rack to store a sharpening steel and ceramic honing rod.
After doing a few sketches in Photoshop, I made up a simple cardboard mockup of my design. The purpose of this was to determine the best angle for the knife rack so that it would accommodate my knives and also a sharpening steel & honing rod – without impeding access to space below the rack. Once I had those details sorted, it was time to see what wood to make the rack from.
I had an old board of some very figured birds-eye maple to use as the primary ‘shelf’ to hold the knives. I used some red oak for the ends of the rack. These would also serve as the mounting point to the underside of a microwave shelf. I also had some small bits of black walnut to make a simple holder to store a sharpening steel and honing rod.
I needed to resaw the birds-eye maple to make the thinner shelf. I then ran the pieces through the thickness planer to clean up the saw marks. There was still a fair bit of sanding required despite the very sharp planer blades due to the wildly figured maple.
I cut a couple dados in the back side of the maple that will hold some neodymium bar magnets I got on Amazon (the ones I used were 60mm x 20mm x 5mm). The dado left about 1/8″ of wood. The magnets are very strong, and very effective even behind that much wood. I created similar dados in one of the oak end pieces as well. This provides a spot for a pair of kitchen shears. To fill the dados after the magnets were glued in I made oak plugs for the end piece. I just used a thin 1/16″ strip of oak to cover the magnets on the underside of the knife shelf.
To finish the knife rack, I used Butcher Block wax from Knifewear – it’s a soft, food safe paste wax made right here in Edmonton. I slathered it all over the rack and let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes, and then rubbed the wax in. I did this a couple more times (using less wax than the initial application) and vigorously rubbed the wax in. The result was a satin sheen that really looks good. I’m also using this stuff on my cutting board instead of the mineral oil I used previously :).
I did sort through our knives a little – leaving room in case another new Japanese knife happens to need a new home :).