This knife block is inexpensive and flexible enough to accommodate any sort of knife collection. (Speaking of inexpensive, this is part of the "On a Budget" contest. Your votes are appreciated! ^_^ ) And unlike the commercially made knife block that uses plastic strips bound together at the base (called the Kapoosh), this one lets you add and remove skewers as you grow your knife collection. Also, if anything happens to get your knife block dirty, this one is at least easily cleanable, whereas the Kapoosh can't be easily separated for cleaning.
Why use a knife block?
Perhaps you may be wondering why one should use a knife block in the first place. Why not just throw all your random knives into a drawer so they can bang around and nick each other's edges so you can waste money resharpening them and buying new knives to pointlessly destroy by careless storage? Why not risk cutting your fingers on random blades while fishing through your drawer for the right knife? I don't have a good answer for you, but I do have a great knife block instructable if you decide, in spite of the lack of any good reasons, to store your knives wisely.
What you will need:
- A utensil crock of some sort.
- 12-15 packages of bamboo skewers.
The average crock at Bed, Bath & Beyond will typically require 12-15 packages at 100 skewers per pack. At most Asian markets, skewers are really cheap. They were under two dollars per pack of 100 if I remember correctly.
Optional, for those obsessed with perfection:
- a flat-faced nail clipper, sanitized with rubbing alcohol and sterilized with a flame.
There's one last optional step where you can sort out all the skewers that are too short, and use the nail clipper to trim down the ones that are too long so that their ends lie flush with the rest of the skewers, but most folks are not as obsessive about perfection as I am, so this is optional.
Picking the right skewer length
To determine the length of skewer you need, find the longest bladed knife you intend to store in this knife block. In the United States, the appropriate skewers come in lengths of 8 inches, 10 inches, and 12 inches. You want to get the shortest skewers that are longer than the longest blade of your knives.
In my case, I have one blade that is slightly longer than 10 inches, so I went with the 12 inch skewers. In retrospect, 10 inch skewers would have worked better; the extra two inches wasn't necessary for anything but that one freak blade.
Skewers points up vs. points down
You may have noticed that there are other instructables that have this same sort of knife block with the skewers pointed up. The relative advantages and disadvantages of each are as follows:
Pros: You can simply stab your knife down into the knife block. The tip of the blade slips between the points, and lets the knife easily insert straight down.
Cons: When the skewers are point up, you're more likely to jab yourself on the points. This is much more likely to be a problem when the skewers are a bit uneven, with some longer than others. If the knife block is not packed tightly enough, the knife can fall down between the skewers, and then you're much more likely to poke yourself while you're attempting to retrieve the knife. Also, as dust settles on your knife block, the dust gets between the points of the skewers, and this is a pain to clean off.
Pros: You are not likely to jab yourself on the points. When the knife block gets dusty, it can be dusted off (with all your knives removed first, of course) without badly snagging your duster.
Cons: None. It is just as easy to insert the knives by pushing the blade into the side of the bundle before pushing down. See the next step.
Step 1: Open Packages of Skewers and Put Them Point Down Into the Crock.
Open the packages of skewers and pack them into the crock until the crock is packed tight. (In my example shown above, I used 15 packs of skewers.) Normally, I would have a lot to say, but I'm going to keep this one simple.
The only tip I have to offer is to hold the first few packs so they don't splay out in random directions. Once you have enough skewers in the crock, they will start to stand more vertically.
Step 2: Insert Your Knives
To insert knives into this cutting block, push the blade into the side of the skewers, then press down until the blade is solidly held by the skewers. Do not attempt to simply stab the knives in from above; the skewers are blunt on top, and the knife may hit the top of the skewers and go sideways, possibly stabbing whatever appendage of yours is in the way.
Step 3: For the Obsessives: Pick Out Short Skewers, Trim Long Skewers
If you really want this knife block to look like there was extra tender loving care put into its manufacturing, you can sort all the long skewers to one end of the crock and the short ones to the other, then use tweezers to pluck out all the skewers that are too short, and trim the skewers that are too long. Lastly, insert enough fresh skewers to compensate for the ones you took out.
Trimming long skewers
First, sanitize your flat faced nail clippers. Use some rubbing alcohol and tissue paper to wipe the blade, then pass the clipping end through the flame of a cigarette lighter briefly. Any germs that are on the blade will be burned off, leaving the edge totally sterile.
Pluck out the ones that are too long, and re-insert them point up. Be sure to push them all the way down so that their ends are touching the bottom of the crock. Then, use the sanitized flat-nosed nail clipper and clip off the pit of the point that sticks out too far. Pluck the skewer back out, and re-insert it point down. If you do this, please sanitize the clipper. I'm sure nobody you cook for wants toe germs to be imparted on the food from your knives.
Now you will have a perfectly flush top and can turn your obsessive glare to other minuscule problems around the house that are in need of your attention.
If you don't want to trim skewers, you can always go out of your way to find the brands of skewers that are very consistent, but that requires another kind of obsessiveness. I noticed that the skewers at Berkeley Bowl seemed to be remarkably consistent in length, but I already purchased my cheap skewers from the Chinese market by that point.