- There are many options for storing kitchen knives, the most common being knife blocks, in-drawer knife holders, knife sheaths or guards, and magnetic knife racks.
- Magnetic knife racks are easy to clean, easy to access, and easily accommodate all kinds of kitchen tools.
- The most common materials used for magnetic knife racks are plastic, stainless steel, and wood.
Anything with the word “magnetic” in its description has a certain ring to it — it sounds impressive, innovative, and even a bit fancy.
In reality, however, almost everyone uses magnets everyday. Magnets are in handbag clasps, shower curtains, doorbells, dishwashers, refrigerator doors, refrigerator magnets, cellphones, and computers. And though we don't really notice them anymore, magnets make a lot of things work. They also make a lot of things more organized, as is the case with magnetic knife racks (also called magnetic knife bars or strips).
If you’ve ever searched too long for a particular knife or have resigned to just leaving them in the drying rack (a sure way to dull the blade), a magnetic knife rack is what you need to get your storage straightened out.
Read on for all you need to know about magnetic knife racks — the easiest, sleekest, and most sanitary way to store your knives.
What Is a Magnetic Knife Rack
A magnetic knife rack is exactly what it sounds like — a rack that uses magnets to hold your knives in place. These racks are long, rectangular strips — anywhere from 10-20 inches long, 2-3 inches high, and 1/2-3 inches deep — made to be mounted on a kitchen wall.
The magnet most commonly used is the neodymium magnet, the strongest type of rare-earth magnet commercially available. Neodymium is rare, not because the magnet is actually rare, but because it’s made from rare-earth elements found on the periodic table, which in this case, is an alloy of neodymium, iron, and boron.
The combination not only creates a heavy-duty, strong magnet, but one that’s permanent. Permanent magnets are materials that create their own persistent magnetic field. In other words, they are magnets that don't lose their magnetic field — a good feature in something you’re trusting to hold up sharp, pointy cutlery.
In a magnetic knife rack, two to three neodymium magnets are usually coated with plastic or another metal to prevent any oxidation and rust (a common occurrence in iron), then they’re embedded into exterior material, like stainless steel, wood, or plastic.
Look for a knife rack that has magnetic strips running through the entire length, as opposed to placed at intervals, so there’s a stronger overall hold and you don’t have to worry about your exact knife placement.
Types of Magnetic Knife Racks
Whatever the design of your kitchen, there’s a magnetic knife rack that’s perfect for it. A quick search reveals an assortment of different styles, most of which are made from three types of material: plastic, stainless steel, and wood.
Plastic is the most common, as it's affordable and comes in lots of colors, shapes, and designs. The trade-off, however, is that it tends to be less durable than wood or stainless steel varieties. But if you're more concerned with having a specific style or just want to try out a magnetic knife holder in your kitchen, plastic is a good starting option.
Stainless steel is another popular material, often found in professional kitchens. Not only is it affordable and long-lasting, it's also very hygienic and easy to clean. Some designs even offer an extra parallel bar for added height, as well as removable hooks for hanging other kitchen tools. With its sleek, streamlined design, stainless steel magnetic knife holders are perfect for the modern kitchen.
Wood is the most expensive of the knife rack materials. It's also the hardest to keep clean, as wood is a porous material that allows liquids to seep in and bacteria to breed. Still wooden magnetic knife racks are beautiful. And if you're willing to take proper care of them, they'll add a warm, homey touch to your space.
How Knife Racks Compare to Different Storage Options
Compared to other forms of cutlery storage, magnetic knife racks offer the most benefits — they're cleaner than a knife block, more space-saving than an in-drawer knife holder, quicker to use than a sheath or guard, and more aesthetically pleasing than all of the above.
As it turns out, the traditional home knife storage — a wooden knife block — is actually not a great option. Not only do the skinny slots dull your knives (think of every time the blade drags against the wood), they’re also impossible to completely clean and dry, which makes them a perfect hiding spot for germs and mold.
Knife blocks also take a good amount of counter space and are limiting, as far as growing your cutlery collection is concerned. The slots are specific in number and size, created only to fit pieces of the same knife set or brand, which means any new purchases will still need an additional storage solution.
In-drawer knife holders are a step up from the way the majority of people keep their knives — which is left open in a drawer, Even if you make sure to wedge the knife between the flatware container and side of the drawer, an unprotected blade still grazes the surface every time the drawer is opened (and may also be dangerous, if there are children in the house).
In-drawer knife holders are essentially trays with slots that both hold and divide your knives. They are easily inserted into a standard kitchen drawer and are usually made from wood (although some include a softer lining). Unlike knife blocks, however, these drawer organizers are easier to clean and can hold several knives of different lengths, sizes, and manufacturers. However, they do require useful drawer space, so they’re only a suitable option if you have drawer space to spare.
Knife sheaths and guards are more of blade protectors than a complete means of storage. They can actually be used in tandem with other options — sheathed and placed in a drawer holder — or used as a portable option during travel or for any extra knives that are seldom used or can’t fit on your knife rack or in your knife block.
Knife sheaths are available in assorted sizes and are usually made of high quality plastic with a softer felt or rubberized lining. Look for ones that are BPA-free and non-toxic, such as those by Messermeister, Mercer Culinary, or Wüsthof. The Japanese sheath made of wood — called a saya — is a little pricier but more protective, and makes a good partner for Japanese knives.
Installing Your Magnetic Knife Rack
A great option for keeping knives is a magnetic knife rack. The simple design is a breeze to clean and dry, holds an assortment of tools (even tongs, shears, and whisks), and takes advantage of the most underutilized area in the kitchen — the wall.
Even small kitchens have room for a magnetic knife rack. Consider the backsplash above the sink, the side of a cupboard, vertically on the wall, or any flat, vertical surface, really. Just make sure the knives won’t get in the way of usual kitchen commotion and are far enough from the reach of children.
Once you’ve found the perfect place, you’ll wall-mount your magnetic knife rack with a set of screws, which usually comes with the rack, along with complete mounting hardware and an instruction manual. If you have a drill, installation should be easy to do on your own, in under 30 minutes.
Best Practices for Using Your Magnetic Knife Rack
With your knives on the newly installed magnetic knife rack, you’re able to easily reach for the exact one you want (no more rummaging through drawers or pulling all the knives from a block before finding the right one).
You can also see how a knife rack makes minimal contact with the blade’s cutting edge. You can place the knife on the rack by starting at the spine and then rolling the blade down to further protect its cutting edge. Those who are right-handed may want to keep all the blades facing left, away from their more frequent hand motions. And vice-versa for those who are left-handed.
Another good practice is to position the knives pointy-end up and handle-end down — this balances the weight at the bottom, keeping the knife from spinning around, and it lessens the chance of someone reaching up straight into a blade. If your rack is relatively low, however, it may be better to keep the knives handle-up and pointy-end down.
Finally, as with all methods of storage, give your knives space. Don’t overcrowd your magnetic knife rack. Most are long enough to hold 8-10 pieces (an assortment of larger chef's knives, smaller paring knives, and personal steak knives), with an inch in between each piece — any more will have the knives bumping into each other. For more kitchen storage, you can easily combine two or more magnetic knife strips in rows, or even side by side, if there’s enough space.
Holding Everything in Place
Out of all the possible ways to keep your knives, magnetic knife racks have the most to offer. They are space-efficient, convenient, and are a good fit for any knife collection. Plus they’re highly recommended by both home cooks and professional chefs alike. Start with one rack for your favorite everyday knives, and add more according to your needs.