When it comes to the question of the best knife storage system, opinions run sharp. But no matter where you stake your allegiance—team knife block, magnetic bar, or drawer setup—experts agree that the most important rule of knife storage isn’t about where you keep your kitchen knives but about how you prep them before putting them away. To keep your knives in tip-top shape, don’t let them hang out in the sink, waiting to be washed after dinner. You should clean, dry, and store them immediately after use. “My family finds this annoying, but it’s my one kitchen rule,” says Kaumudi Marathe, senior books editor at America’s Test Kitchen. This is important for safety reasons, but it also helps prevent rust, staining, and corrosion—yes, even on stainless knives. The second rule? Keep your knives out of the dishwasher, as it can damage the blades as well as the handles.
Once your knives are hand-washed and dry, you can store them in a variety of different ways to keep your blades sharper, longer. The best way to store knives depends on how much countertop and drawer space you have, how many knives you actually own, and your preferred kitchen aesthetic. Below we’ve rounded up some of our favorite knife storage solutions, whether you want to keep them on display or tucked away.
Mounted Magnetic Knife Strips
Advantages: Wall-mounted magnetic racks allow you to preserve countertop and drawer space, which makes them the most space-efficient option. They also provide a handsome display that can be conveniently located near your prep area, so your knives are always within arm’s reach.
Disadvantages: If you’re not gentle, the impact of blade on bar can scratch your knives (not a functional problem, but an eyesore) or even chip or snap a delicate Japanese-style knife. You should also consider safety hazards, especially if you have children or small pets that can jump on the counter. And sometimes, when the magnet in the bar is very strong, it can magnetize the knives themselves, according to Mari Sugai at Korin Knives.
Recommendation: There are lots of choices when it comes to magnetic strips—stainless steel, wood, a combination of the two. We like the Zwilling 18″ Acacia Magnetic Knife Bar because it’s wood-coated, which reduces the chance of scratches. It can store up to eight large knives and makes an attractive display for your cutlery.
Zwilling 18″ Acacia Magnetic Knife Bar
If you’re looking for a more artisan choice, the Peg and Awl Shou Sugi Ban Knife Grabber is beautifully crafted from reclaimed wood, making it a great environmentally-conscious option. It’s made using shou sugi ban, a Japanese technique in which wood is burned to give it a gorgeous charred finish and to seal it from the elements. This rack comes in two lengths—choose between 15 inches (which can hold six knives) or 18 inches (which can hold eight).
Shou Sugi Ban Knife Grabber
Pro Tip: To reduce impact and avoid scratches when using a magnetic rack, attach your knife spine first, then rotate it 90° so that the blade meets the rack gently instead of smacking. Do the reverse to detach it.
Advantages: Knife blocks provide good protection for the edges of your blades, which makes them great for extending the longevity of your knives. Just refrain from shoving them into slots that don’t fit.
Disadvantages: Wooden blocks can take up valuable counter space and they often lock you into a certain number and type of knives, since the slots are usually prefabricated and designed for that knife set you don’t need. Where are you going to put that cleaver? They can also be difficult to sanitize, as moisture and crumbs can get caught in the slots. This is important to note if you’re not diligent about, ahem, cleaning and drying your knives immediately after use.