My wife wanted a better set of kitchen knives. I wanted to make a free-standing knife block for her knives. Free-standing knife blocks like this were very popular at the time, also comparitively expensive.
Step 1: The knives and sharpening steel
Here you can see the knives laid out with the sharpening steel. You can also note the arrangement for the slots in the block.
Step 2: The basic pieces
I made this knife block thirty years ago, so I will use images created in Google Sketch-Up to describe its construction.
This is the basic piece I used. Five are required. Each is made up from strips of oak scraps taken from old church furniture destined for someone's fireplace. The strips were glued together for a butcher block effect. I used a rotary planer attachment on my radial arm saw as a thickness planer to make pieces about 5/8 inch thick and smoothed them a little with a sanding block before gluing the five layers together. But, that gluing operation comes later.
The five pieces are in the shape of an elongated trapezoid. The long dimensions are 10 1/2 inches. The longer end is five inches. The shorter end is two inches.
Step 3: Hole for the sharpening steel
I did not have a long drill bit for drilling a continuous hole for the sharpening steel. (The steel is ten inches long plus the handle.) So I marked one of the five pieces to show where the steel would be inside the knife block. Then I cut a trough with a router while using the router free-hand.
Step 4: The rest of the steel's hole
Then I drilled a hole from the outside end of the piece into the trough. No one would know by looking that the space for the steel is not one continuous drilled hole.
Step 5: Make recesses for the knife blades
I placed each knife on the wood surface of its respective piece and drew an outline of the blade. Pay some attention to how you want the handles to be positioned when the block is finished and in use. I used my router free-hand to make a recess for each blade.