loading
Picture of Rainbow Wood Magnetic Knife Strip
IMG_2852.jpg
knifestrip2.jpg
IMG_2841 (1).jpg
This is a magnetic knife strip that is made from cut-offs of fine hardwoods that I had lying around the shop.  Glue them all together and you get something I'm calling rainbow wood.  It also has a line of rare earth magnets embedded in it so it's got surprisingly strong knife-holding power.  

My issue with conventional knife holders is that they're often covered in metal, which means that there's the potential for the blade edge to get a nicked or damaged.  That's just simply not a possibility with this wooden one.  Furthermore, the ones that are made of wood are often cheaply made with weak magnets that don't sufficiently hold large 8" or 9" chefs knives.  This knife holder does double duty as being both uniquely decorative, and is a step up from what's commercially available.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Make stock material and cut off a strip

Picture of Make stock material and cut off a strip
This knife hanging strip was made from a piece of scrap, scrap wood material.  First, make a bunch of scrap wood material as described in this instructable here.  Then, cutting across the board and using a sled so that the wood doesn't bind, cut a strip of scrap material off of the end.  For a very long knife strip, or if your scrap wood blank is particularly short, cut two and glue them together.

Other tools this Instructable will require are basic wood working tools like:
  • miter saw
  • table saw
  • router and router table
  • palm sander
  • various clamps

Other materials this Instructable will require are
  • Elmer's® Carpenter's® Wood Glue
  • rare earth magnets (.5"x.5"x.125")
  • two part epoxy
  • scrap wood
  • food safe wood finish
  • keyhole hangers

Quantities of these materials depends on the scale of the project.

Step 2: Miter saw edges to prepare for gluing

Picture of Miter saw edges to prepare for gluing
I made a large knife rack that uses two strips glued together.  Before gluing the two strips end to end to make one long one, I chopped the edge to be glued on the miter saw to make sure it was absolutely square.

Step 3: Glue two strips together (if necessary)

Picture of Glue two strips together (if necessary)
Glue the ends of the two strips together and clamp them well using another strip of wood to act as a caul opposite the clamp. 

Step 4: Sand off the glue

Picture of Sand off the glue
Using 80 and 120 grit sanding discs, sand the strip and remove any glue marks.  There's no need to go much higher in grit since the finishing sanding can be done just before applying the finish.

Step 5: Cut a groove

Picture of Cut a groove
magnetic knife strip 036.jpg
Cut a groove or rabbit in the strip using a router and a 1/2" straight bit.  I used a router table to do this and set the fence so that the bit would rund down the middle of the strip.  The feather boards help to make sure that thin strip of wood is held securely in place as it is run through. 

Make multiple passes, cutting deeper with the router on each one.  Remove material until you come within a comfortable distance of the top of the strip.  The goal is to leave as little material as possible in place, as this will be the barrier between your magnets and your knives.  Less material = more holding power.  I came to within a 1/8th or so of the top of the strip and my magnets have plenty of holding power on the knives.

Step 6: Cut a spline that fits

Picture of Cut a spline that fits
magnetic knife strip 033.jpg
magnetic knife strip 032.jpg
magnetic knife strip 031.jpg
With the grove cut, it's time to cut a spline that will fill that space once the magnets have been inserted.  With a few test magnets in place for thickness, measure the length, width and depth of your channel.  Then, using some scrap material and a table saw, cut a spline that fits those dimensions.  I cut the length on the spline on the chop saw.  The spline should fit in place smoothly and easily.  It should not be a tight, pressure fit, as it's held in place with epoxy in a later step.

Step 7: Cap with more scrap material

Picture of Cap with more scrap material
magnetic knife strip 029.jpg
magnetic knife strip 028.jpg
Grab two more short pieces of scrap material that are cut to sizer and cap the ends of the strip.  Use a caul along the back of the strip to make sure that the (3) pieces you are now gluing together are well aligned and true.  

Sand off of any glue marks after the clamps have been removed and the glue has set.

You can avoid this step by cutting your grove with a router and plunge base, and not routing out material all the way to the end of your strip.  Gluing on end caps wasn't too big of a chore for me, so I just quickly zipped it through the router table in step 5.

Step 8: Round over the edges

Picture of Round over the edges
Using a round over bit, a router, and a router table, pick the nicest side of the wood strip and round over the edges on that side.  The round over bit I used has a bearing that controls the cut, however I used the fence set to the same depth as the bearing for added stability.  Since the bit was removing such a small material, I did this in one pass, without the use of feather boards since the wood is easy to control my hand. 

One thing I do recommend is to use a sacrificial piece of wood as a followthrough to reduce tear out when you get to the end of a pass.

Step 9: Sand the strip with random orbital sander

Picture of Sand the strip with random orbital sander
Now it's time to do the finishing sanding.  Using 120, 180 and then 220 grit sanding discs, sand the entire strip and remove any marks from the clamping, gluing and routing.

Step 10: Insert magnets

Picture of Insert magnets
magnetic knife strip 026.jpg
magnetic knife strip 023.jpg
magnetic knife strip 021.jpg
The hardest part of making this knife strip was working with the rare earth magnets.  They have a surprising affinity to stick to one another and will *snap* together unexpectedly.  That being said, they do attract to one another end to end, so they can be carefully laid out.  

Lay the magnets out into strips making sure to keep all the poles going in the same direction.  You can tell this easily because if the poles are misaligned, the magnet will repel the one adjacent to it.  If it attracts, you know the poles are good to go.

The magnets I'm using are 1/2" W x 1/2" L x 1/8" thick rare earth magnets.  

I wanted to make registration points for certain large knives that I own and make sure that there would be no chance of knocking one knife into another when placing them on the strip.  To do this I made sections, or small clusters of magnets that were seperated by short sections 1/8" acrylic material.  The acrylic spacers allow me to control the groups of magnets.  See 3rd photo and photo notes below for more detail.

Lay out the strip of magnets and then gently transfer them into the bottom of the groove.  Insert spacers (optional) as you see fit to create knife groupings or clusters.

Step 11: Epoxy magnets in place

Picture of Epoxy magnets in place
magnetic knife strip 019.jpg
Using a quick set 2-part epoxy, glue the magnets into place inside the knife strip.

Step 12: Glue spline in place

Picture of Glue spline in place
magnetic knife strip 017.jpg
magnetic knife strip 016.jpg
Using more of the same epoxy, glue the spline into position on top of the magnets.  This will hold all the magnets in position forever.

Apply clamps and let the epoxy set.  I used masking tape to protect my clamp heads so that they wouldn't become epoxied in place from any squeeze out that might occur.

Once the epoxy has set, remove the clamps and sand off any glue marks.

Step 13: Apply food safe finish

Picture of Apply food safe finish
magnetic knife strip 013.jpg
Apply a food safe finish, such as mineral oil or butcher block oil.  I'm using a gel varnish here that's FDA approved called "Good Stuff" which I quite like since it's easy to work with, doesn't drip, and results in a nice satin finish.

Let your finish dry and repeat for a second coat if necessary.

Step 14: Drill cut outs for flush mount hanging bracket

Picture of Drill cut outs for flush mount hanging bracket
magnetic knife strip 011.jpg
magnetic knife strip 010.jpg
magnetic knife strip 009.jpg
magnetic knife strip 006.jpg
I didn't want to interrupt the face of my knife rack with mounting hardware, so I opted for keyhole hangers, also called keyhole brackets, which slide and lock into place on any screw head.  These hangers need to be mounted flush to the back of the knife strip so used the drill press with a forstner bit to remove the bulk of the material, and then did a cleaning up of the recess with a hand chisel.  I used two of them mounted at either ends of the wooden strip.

Apply blue painters tape to any at-risk surface to avoid scratching the strip in these final few processes.

Drill three holes with a forstner bit that matches the exact outer radius of your keyhole hanger, making the center hole a touch deeper to allow for the screw head.


Step 15: Use chisel to finish cut outs for hanging bracket

Picture of Use chisel to finish cut outs for hanging bracket
magnetic knife strip 004.jpg
Clean up the small chunks of wood between the circles with a hand chisel.  Test fit the keyhole hanger in place.

Step 16: Mount bracket

Picture of Mount bracket
magnetic knife strip 002.jpg
magnetic knife strip 001.jpg
Mount the bracket using a Vix Bit, or self-centering pre-driller which will ensure that the holes for your hardware are exactly in the correct position and some short wood screws.  Make sure not to drill too deep.  

If you haven't used a Vix Bit before, you should give them a shot - they are perfectly designed for this application and are quite pleasing to use.  They self-center! 

Step 17: Set anchors in wall and hang in kitchen

Picture of Set anchors in wall and hang in kitchen
screw head 042.jpg
The keyhole hangers simply need two screw heads to lock on to.  I've got drywall in my kitchen wall so I used some plastic plugs and 1.5" screws to secure the strip in place.  Use a level to make sure that the knife strip is level and hang away.

The keyhole hangers push the strip away from the wall ever so slightly and when placing or removing a knife from the strip, the strip did a little shimmy.  I used the soft side of an adhesive velcro strip as a thickness pad to take up the room between the strip and the wool - worked like a charm.

If you make your own magnetic knife rack post it in the comments below - I'd love to see what you come up with - so post photos please!  Thanks for reading and leave comments with questions if you've got them.

If not noted yet, you can get various kinds of hardwood from pallets. I've gotten cherry, oak, walnut, pine and several others I wasn't able to identify for free from disassembling and sanding pallet pieces parts. FYI! :)

wizawuza5 months ago

Going to try my hand at this project when I move into my new place (another couple of months).

Have you put any thought into two rows of magnets, to help prevent the knives from rotating? Or is that not a concern with the strength of these? Right now I have a store-bought block (http://benchcrafted.com/Magblok.html), great quality, but the knives can rotate if I'm not careful.. plus I like the lack of visible holes on your design.

shazni1 year ago
Please may i know if N35 magnets will do? I'm looking into trying out this project...but confused about these numbers ...in anther instructable
http://www.instructables.com/id/Reclaimed-Wood-Magnetic-Knife-Rack-1/
it said D55
jonficke shazni10 months ago

N35 is just a classification of magnet strength family. The best way to think of it is that the number after the N sets the upper bound on how strong the magnets in that classification could be. Example with made up numbers: An N35 magnet might have a pull strength from .1 to 10 lbs. An N 37 magnet might have a pull strength from .25 to 15 lbs.

If your magnet is directly in contact with your knife, then you need a pull strength at least as strong as the weight of the knife but not so strong you struggle to pull the knife off the rack. I hide the magnets behind hardwood on mine, so I use very strong magnets as the pull strength is weakened by going through the wood. http://warriorwoodwork.blogspot.com/2013/11/zebraw...

I use magnets with almost a 40 lb pull strength.

txgrinch jonficke8 months ago

This is a brilliant design and will be perfect for my holiday gifts this year. Unfortunately, I have to make a bunch (30) and am wondering whether I need the 40 lb pull strength. Can I go with something less to keep the cost down?

How long do you usually make the board? I was thinking 12 to 15 inches.

Lufkum1 year ago

Just to cut a step I would not cut the groove till the end so I don't need to cap it

Nice project!

marstery1 year ago
Looks great! You mentioned the size of that magnets you used. Do you know what pull strength they were?
clazman2 years ago
Very nice job!

I love your attention to detail, such as the velcro strips to act as "springs" to preload the mounting. Very nice! Af\ter my own heart!!
You sure are big into rainbows. :) Good to know...


Your "rainbows" could probably stand a little inclusion of argentine osage orange and some pink ivory, though.


wilheln2 years ago
Nice project! Where'd you buy your magnets?
noahw (author)  wilheln2 years ago
I usually order from http://www.rare-earth-magnets.com/ just because they have a nice website, but there are many retailers for rare earth magnets online now.
nmvb3 years ago
what was the pull strength of the magnets that you used?
sarawelder3 years ago
great ible and photos. looks like the perfect wedding present to me. I certainly plan to have a go at this one!
flamesami3 years ago
are those knives custom? The one nearest the camera in the first picture is damascus, right?
noahw (author)  flamesami3 years ago
Good spot! I like to cook quite a bit, so I've taken the plunge and invested in some hand made Japanese knives sold at The Japan Woodworker in Alameda, CA. I always bought decent knives (Henckel, Wustoff etc...) in the past, but these Japanese knives are out of sight. They retain an edge better and longer than conventional knives and have a much thinner blade, yet still extremely rigid structure, which makes cutting easier and more precise because you're pushing less knife (thickness) through your material. It's like dragging a piece of fishing line through a carrot instead of a 1/4" steel cable - it's thinner, so it's easier. Hope that made sense. I could go on about the merits of Japanese knives forever...
flamesami noahw3 years ago
You'd be preaching to the converted if you did ;). If only I had the money....I would buy loads from my friends onhttp://www.britishblades.com. Wonderful people they are, I'm a member myself (it's a forum)
ripperman23 years ago
multi colored wood, really a great project. I can't wait to make something like it. Where do you get all the different wood, or is it dymondwood?
noahw (author)  ripperman23 years ago
You can get those woods at a lumber yard if you've got one close to you. The bay area luckily has some great lumber yards that stock tons of varieties. Although, good lumber yards are becoming harder and harder to find. In a pinch, you can mail order small amounts of wood online from woodworking catalogs.

What is dymondwood?
Thanks! Dymondwood and Pakkawood is real wood, impregnated with color and resin, laminated together. I'm a wood carver and ran across carving knives made with Pakkawood by Helvie Knife. http://www.helvieknives.com/ Gorgeous handles plus they make their own steel and are exceptional blades. I did some research and found dymondwood and pakkawood for sale on the internet. http://www.rutply.com/products/dymondwood.html
I even found some on eBay one day. But I choose not to make my own knives, so I'm looking for storage ideas and your magnetic holder would keep me from stabbing myself both with knives and palm gouges. Yes, I've done both. Those pvc tool holders found on the internet are cheap and easy, but ugly. Wood should be involved with wood projects. :)
andreq3 years ago
I made one some time ago using birdseye maple.

Yours is fantastic!
IMG_2414.JPGIMG_2415.JPG
noahw (author)  andreq3 years ago
The birdseye maple looks great - nice work! I see you've got your mounting screws going right through the front - I was going to do the same on mine before sourcing the keyhole hangers. Before I found the hangers I was thinking about the idea about getting some cool fasteners for mounting, like some big brass thumb screws, decorative wing nuts, or even, a brass wood screw with a decorative head. Just something to think about. With your birdseye, I think some stainless steel hardware would look real nice too. Anyway, great work and thanks for posting the pics.
Nxtfari noahw3 years ago
Wow! Fantastic job! Just one concern though: I'd recommend mounting the knifes the other way (blade upwards), for safety's sake. If the magnets were to ever fail, getting hit by the handle is a lot better than being pierced by the blade.
andreq Nxtfari3 years ago
The problem is that my magnet are really weak. Putting the knife the other way around make them slowly slide and almost fall. The wood itself is as smooth as it can get, so there's not much to grip on.

Anyway, it's been like this for a while now and nobody ever got stabbed. The knifes sit above a spice rack that block the way if anyone want to go there.
andreq noahw3 years ago
I'll try to find picture of the back. I used circle magnet. All we did was to drill some 1/2" hole one next to each other until there was very little wood left. There's like 1/16 of an inch left between the magnet and the front since my magnet where less powerfull than expected (I did use rare earth magnet). Next time I'd use thicker magnet considering the price. I paid ~$18 and the thicker one were only ~$26.

Your method of using square magnet into a slot is way easier and brilliant! Using a solid piece of wood instead of stripe would still be possible. All someone would have to do is to use a router to make the "slot" and stop before reaching the ends.

I'll have to make another of those knife holder one day. It was a great project to start learning wood working.
Jayefuu3 years ago
Beautiful work Noah! Nice to see a woodwork project with good photography too.
noahw (author)  Jayefuu3 years ago
Thanks for your support James.

I've got a lot of projects in the hopper and they're finally getting published!
Jayefuu noahw3 years ago
:D Next time I visit SF I'll definitely spend more time in your woodshop :D
Where did you get your magnets from? This looks great by the ways. Awesome work.
noahw (author)  jfunderburk4563 years ago
I order rare earth magnets from either MagCraft http://www.rare-earth-magnets.com/
noahw (author)  noahw3 years ago
whoops, that should read:

"from either MagCraft http://www.rare-earth-magnets.com/ or Applied Magnets http://www.magnet4less.com/ depending on who's cheaper.
reno_dakota3 years ago
Beautifully done!
dorybob3 years ago
beautiful work. And thanks for instructing about the Vix bits.
This is beautiful! My husband was just mentioning how he would like a magnetic knife strip. Thank you for such detailed instructions and great photos! Now if I can get motivated to start making it in time for Father's Day :)
Ninzerbean3 years ago
So well done I'd give it 6 stars if that was possible.