The eternal problem – how to best store your sharp Japanese knives. If you love your knives, you probably already know the basics: You have to have them sharpened regularly and cleaned after use. You also need to keep them out of the dishwasher. Or don’t leave them in the sink. Or remembering of drying them before storing them.
When it comes to storing your knives, there are few solutions which you may consider. Finding the right home for your knives is more than just a question of kitchen organisation. The right knife storage can help your knives stay sharper longer—and help your kitchen look fancier, too.
The first problem with drawer trays is finding ones to fit your knives. Deba that’s too thick? Extra long sujihiki or yanagiba? You’re out of luck for those Ikea standards.
The other issue is that space – many people don’t have drawers to spare. What most of us have, however, is plenty of wall space. Some kitchen cooks joke that they would rather have guitars and knives up than paintings.
Other than using an in-drawer knife block storage method, we strongly suggest avoiding this unless you have absolutely no other choice. Free storage of knife blades in a drawer can chip the handle or the blade itself, knives will go dull easily, and you could even break the knives when too much strength is applied when opening/closing the drawers.
If you really want to store your kitchen knives in a drawer, never leave them loose. We repeat: it damages the blades and makes knife accidents very hard to avoid. Using a special knife block made to store your knives in a drawer is critical.
Pros: In-drawer knife storage keeps your knives out of the way and off the counter. You can put extra safety blocks if you have small children at home. In-drawer knives storage are also useful in small kitchens that have enough drawer space.
Cons: If you have children, storing knives in a drawer isn’t safe. However, you could install a lock on your knife drawer, but that means it is a pain to access your knives when you need them. Also, the blades would have to be stored upright, and that vertical position puts stress on the blades, just like a block, meaning you’ll have to store them upside down and blade up to protect the blades. Accident waiting to happen!
This seems to be the most common form of storage for commercial knife sets, since many knife sets come with their own knife block storage, and many people buy an empty knife block to store knives purchased separately. Countertop kitchen knife holders like these seem ideal. However, knife blocks also have some limitations depending on the block itself. Universal knife blocks can overcome some of those issues.
Pros: You’ll have all your kitchen knives in one place, and storing knives in the block can help keep the edge longer, as well as avoiding accidents between fingers and knives when reaching for them.
Cons: Bad idea for those Japanese knives of different thickness, shapes and sizes. If your knife block doesn’t come with your specific knife set, the pre-sized knife slots are may not fit your knives, especially if you do like we do, and acquire additional preferred knives outside the knife block set. Also, you need to be sure to get a block that stores knives sideways to prevent dulling of the knife blades. If you have to have a vertical storage knife block, store your knives upside down to protect the edges. Unfortunately that does add a safety issue, so sideways storage is best. Or you could find a block that uses plastic storage rods or other material that doesn’t harm the knives resting on them.
Blocks tend to blunt the blades as they normally get dragged over the wood every time. If you are not careful, they are the perfect spot for growing nasties which can help spread food poisoning due to just plain nasty looking gunk that’s near impossible to clean out.
Magnetic Strip / Magnetic Holder
Some people believe that magnetic strips could possibly cause misalignment on a molecular level – nothing further from the truth! We brought up this conversation with a mechanical engineer once and he assured us that that was impossible.
Good magnetic knife racks (strips) have their magnetic part hidden inside the wood so they are neat, perfectly safe for your knives and still extremely strong. Good magnetic knife strips hold the knives firmly on the rack and pull them close with a nice slapping noise. The clever bit about using wood is that unlike metal magnetic racks it protects the blade from chipping or scratching.
Some people hang their knives up side down, others handles down. It’s whatever feels more comfortable for you.
Pros: Racks are an easy way to organise your knife blades and keep them safely off the counter. They are quickly available as all you have to do is reach up and grab your knife of choice. And, most importantly, they keep your knife blades stable, which avoids damage to the knife or its edge.
Cons: Magnetic strips put pressure on the tang of the knife when removed, so if you don’t have a full tang knife, it can stress the knife stability over time. Magnetic racks aren’t safe with children in kitchen unless the magnetic knife strip is mounted high enough that even the knife bottoms are out of your children’s reach. And, as you may have already guessed, you also can’t use them with ceramic knives.
Last notes on proper knife care
Storing your knives in a right way is not enough. As we already mentioned in this article, you have to remember about few things to keep your shiny Japanese beauties in top working order for long.
However, there is one thing we can’t stress enough, and this is – always clean your knives immediately after use and before storing them away.
There are a number of reasons for this, including:
- Sanitary reasons: The longer you wait to clean your knives after use, the more likely the knives will not be washed properly and food particles can accumulate. Also, with poor storage, the knife blades may not be stored in sanitary conditions, meaning reuse could result in an unsanitary blade. Germs anyone?
- Preventing damage to the knife blades: If the blades aren’t completely clean and dried properly before storage, the blades can start to deteriorate and dull the edges or even damage the knife construction.
- Avoiding spotting or metal corrosion: If you work with tomatoes or citrus or other acidic foods, not cleaning, drying and storing your knives immediately and correctly can cause corrosion or deterioration to the metal. Spotting is also pretty common and that is a sign that the blade material is being damaged slowly.
- Avoiding dulling the blades: Washing your knives in the dishwasher — even if they are dishwasher-safe — is a bad practice. In the dishwasher, your knife blades are exposed to damage from knocking against other items. And detergents are harsh on the blades. Plus the high heat of a dishwasher can also deteriorate the blade edge.
(For more advice check our article about 10 knife care tips learned from master blacksmiths.)
Our winner: Magnetic Knife Strip
Although you’ve got a lot of options for storing your knives and knife sets safely to avoid damage or deterioration and still maintain knife safety in the kitchen, for us, magnetic knife strip is with no doubt the best way to store and care for our knives. For that reason we import and sell only that. Not only it’s the best (in our humble opinion) way to display your large knife collection (we can see those envy looks of your guests already), it’s also the most ergonomic and safe way to keep sharp objects in your home, especially with children around.