Introduction: Universal Knife Block (Design Martin Robitsch)

Picture of Universal Knife Block (Design Martin Robitsch)

Martin Robitsch designed this knife block, and I immediately loved it.
Because it is quite expensive, but not too hard to make one yourself, I decided to contribute another instructable.

Materials :
4 pieces of 255 mm * 140mm * 9 mm (10" * 5.5" * 3/8") in nice solid wood (I used Oak), these will be the sides of the box
1 piece of 130mm * 130mm * 8 mm (5" * 5" * 3/8"). this will be the bottom, invisible and so it can be some MDF or plywood
~2000 bamboo skewers, 25 cm long (9.8")

Other :
Wood glue
Wood Oil

Tools :
Saw : only needed if you need to cut the 5 pieces yourself
Sander : ideally a Belt sander (I use the Bosch PBS 7 AE) for rough sanding, and a Orbital Sander (I use Bosch GSS 280 AVE) for finishing
Router (optional, I use Bosch POF 800 ACE)

Effort :  takes about half a day

Cost :  about 30$ - 25 euro. The Bamboo skewers I bought were 0.85 euro/100 pcs

Remark :
You could modify the dimensions if you want to : I just made it to the size of some Oak I had left over, and the final result is about the right size for 3 to 6 knives.

Step 1: Assembling the Box

Picture of Assembling the Box

The hardest part is glueing the box together. I may seem simple, but it is difficult to glue 5 pieces together, keeping right angles everywhere. So I decided to help you with some step by step advice :

1. Put one side on a flat surface
2. Glue the bottom on top of it : Align the bottom, and one corner (in my pictures I aligned the bottom right corner)
3. Glue one extra side at the opposite corner (so I added a side to the left)

Apply clamps and some weights (I often use books)

5. Glue the remaining sides, one by one.
6. Finish by applying a bit of glue to all inner joints with your finger.

Remark :  ideally, the side will stick out just a little on all four sides. That's OK (better than being too small). This excess will be removed in the next step.

Remark 2 : It is important to take your time, take it one part at a time and let it dry enough. (my glue takes about 30 minutes, but 24h for full hardening out). So patience is your friend here !

To keep all panels exactly square, this could help

Step 2: Trimming the Sides of the Box

Picture of Trimming the Sides of the Box
On each side, the side panels will stick out a little bit.
This could be removed with sanding it, but I always use a router for this.
You need a straight router bit with a ball-bearing. This will trim the panels to be exactly flush with the adjacent sides.

Here is a youtube video that shows how to do this :
I understand that not every hobbyist has a router, but this is such a powerful technique, that I want to introduce it here.

You could also fo this with a sander, but it will take more time and will not be as precise.

Step 3: Sanding the Box

Picture of Sanding the Box

Now use a sander to finish the box : it should end up nicely square, and all panels need to be clean and smooth.

I usually start with the belt-sander, using a grain of 80,
Then I finish with the orbital sander, using a grain of 120 or 180.

Important tip : when using the belt-sander, keep the direction of the belt more or less parallel to the grain of the wood. If you you sand it across the grain, you will get visible scratches which are harder to remove. Always keep your belt-sander moving over the piece, never let it rest in one position. If you keep it still, it may leave a groove which is again hard to remove.

Step 4: Trimming the Bamboo Skewers

Picture of Trimming the Bamboo Skewers

In my case, the Bamboo Skewers were 25 cm, but still they varied a bit in length.
A little variation is no problem, but still I decided to adjust the ones that were sticking out too much.

Here is how I did it :
Cut a piece of wood that fits in the box.
Then put the skewers in, with the tip pointing down
Because of the extra piece of wood, the sticks will stick out, and the longest ones will stick out the most.

Use the belt-sander to carefully trim them down, so they are more even.
Note : the dust will fall in the box, so be carefull when you remove the sticks, as some saw-dust will fall out.

Remove the temporary piece of wood at the bottom of the box. If it is hard to shake it out, put in a screw so you can pull it out.

Step 5: Surface Finishing the Box

Picture of Surface Finishing the Box

Oil the box, or use any other finishing of your liking.
I like oil, I think if the wood could talk, it would prefer the oil as well :-)

In this case I used Skydd from IKEA. Actually I don't like  IKEA's consumerism: cheap, disposable, imported, mass-produced furniture, but I like to use parts of what they sell, and make long-lasting products with them.

After applying the oil, I added 4 felt pads at the bottom, in order to not scratch any surface I later put the Knife-block on.

Step 6: Adding the Bamboo Skewers

Picture of Adding the Bamboo Skewers

Finally add the bamboo skewers. Make sure they all go in nicely parallel to the length of the box.

Admire your result, and if you are proud, send me a picture of it !

Happy Woodworking & happy Cooking !


TracyM89 (author)2016-08-04

Mine, sitting on the counter, allows dust, etc. to collect. It's a mess taking out all those skewers to wash them and the bottom of the container. I was also constantly poking myself on the sharp points. Finally I just glued corks end to end till they were tall enough for my container, a pretty tube-vase from a thrift shop, put the "columns" of corks in, not tight. Laid corks on bottom inside to protect knife tips. To clean, just tip everything into a small dish wash tub, swish it around with a bit of soap and your hands. Rinse, let dry, replace. Oh, do use a waterproof glue, or you'll be "rebuilding" your columns. No more sharp points, it looks nice with the cork ends a bit different in height, and Not gluing the columns to the bottom allows for any blade width. Made a shorter one for shorter knives. I tried posting an image. "No-Go". Corks sold by bagfuls from craft stores.

tonyi made it! (author)TracyM892017-10-07

Good idea.

Natural Cork Sheet Roll cut up to fit is an excelent idea as a replacement / alternative filler for the knife holder.

i also use this option of Natural Cork Sheet Roll cut up (to fit the drawer height) & inserted into the drawer vertical side to side into the drawer so the knives can be slid in & lined up horizontal all spaced out and held in place ready to grab.

i dase say there is a few instructables on this site for similar.

KarinM16 (author)2016-08-05

I thought this is a great idea until I remembered, standard wooden knife blocks have the blade running along the wood so I always put mine in upside down so the blade keeps it's edge. What effect would the skewers have on the blade edges?

Kaitsdad (author)2016-08-04

I made mine with a box joint instead of a butt joint. Works great.

RickO8 (author)2016-08-04

Dull the edge.... Darn spellcheck

RickO8 (author)2016-08-04

I see a few of you made these to hold your cutlery at an angle. Cool idea if it set below a cabinet (like my house would). It is good practice to store your knives blade up. Inserting knives blade down in to a block or any holder will fill the edge.
Nice instructable

AliceL29 (author)2016-08-04

Now that is cool, easy and inexpensive idea. That's what I'm looking for on this site.

fraser02 (author)2016-07-26

So you don't actually glue the skewers to the bottom in any way though????

but then they could come out too easy...

strooom (author)fraser022016-07-27

Without glueing they stay down if you have the correct amount of skewers. Experiment with adding/removing a few until the knives go well in and out, and the skewers stay down.

You could glue them on a base plate, but I didn't do that with any of my knife blocks. I think I have made more than 10 by now.

fraser02 (author)strooom2016-07-27

so you mean the compression of so many basically compact into each other so the don't ,move around and fall out?

Waffenzug (author)2016-05-04

I haven't tried this yet but I'm wondering if putting a layer of wine bottle corks across the bottom might be an optional way to protect the knife tip? This is a great project by the way!

cpw7922 (author)2015-08-07

This might not be the right place to post this but where are you guys buying the wood to make these projects?

strooom (author)cpw79222015-08-08

I buy my wood from several sources. Large panels of multiplex or MDF can be bought in DIY shops.
The more exotic kinds of wood I got from Wood Flooring shops. They usually have small amounts of leftovers from previous projects.
Finally, when buying wood, I usually buy 10% extra (to be safe, because that kind of wood could be out of stock for a long time), and that leaves me with a stock of leftovers to buils smaller things.

Happy making! Pascal

miked2001 (author)2015-08-08

First off love this idea.

I bought one and it has plastic fingers, love it. The fingers are attached together to a base plate and are removable and washable. If I was to add a suggestion to yours is to glue the sanded end of the sticks to a removable base plate so you can remove them as a neat package if needed. It would keep them from pulling out as well.

Would make a nice inexpensive gift so I just might try it.

kyshak (author)2012-12-09

but won't the tips of the knives get dull and chipped from the bottom?

miked2001 (author)kyshak2015-08-08

Let's not forget the friction on the blade as it enters the holder.

strooom (author)kyshak2012-12-09

Actually the knives don't touch the bottom, only the blade goes in. As long as the box is deeper than the length of the blade of your longest knife, it is a safe way to store your knives.

XardoX (author)strooom2012-12-11

i just added a flat cork piece to the bottom of the box just to be sure in the case someone is not me throw the knife on it and it goes down to the bottom, so it wont get dull or chipped :D

Thx for the Instructable ^_^

Vodika (author)kyshak2012-12-10

They should not be damaged as long as you don't ram them in as hard as you can, just use common sense.

john3347 (author)kyshak2012-12-09

The soft OSB used as a base is plenty soft to not cause any damage to any knives that are long enough to touch bottom.

RLRRLRLL (author)john33472012-12-10

Ask any professional wood-butcher (carpenter!) why they use respiratory protection when working with Oriented Strand Board or any other manufactured wood product. One of the many nasty things about OSB is the formaldehyde. I believe it's part of the glue/resin mix. Hang on a second and I'll do a quick search..... Okay, here's one of the first results from a "OSB toxicity" google search

Wilsonetics (author)kyshak2012-12-09

Put a sponge or something really soft at bottom

caityjay (author)kyshak2012-12-09

I'm thinking you could probably fit a little silicone pad into the bottom to prevent that.

Dr_Stupid (author)2012-12-14

Only problem I see, the knife's weight rests on the point, not the hilt. You'll find your points become duller and duller.

miked2001 (author)Dr_Stupid2015-08-08

Actually if packed tight enough the points never reach the bottom. Also making it deep enough will help as well.

JoaquinC3 (author)2015-08-04


JoaquinC3 (author)2015-08-04


sylwek9990 (author)2015-08-04

it's beautiful and very useful :)

Zaphod Beetlebrox made it! (author)2015-07-08

Thanks for sharing inspired me to make one. Wood is 1" walnut, oiled with mineral oil. Knives (aside from the masakage) where made by me. Check my ible' if you want to see how.

kbc2 (author)2014-10-06

That is really cool! Approved by my better half as my next project. Thinking depth of box would be best determined as being a little deeper than the longest blade.

ola.singsdal made it! (author)2014-09-22

I did my own version with a split in the middle, where the upper part is suspended by gluing it to the sticks.

I also swapped out the bbq sticks with spaghetti, as i had trouble finding a shop selling big amounts for an affordable price. I thought i might as well, as they can be swapped later anyways.

The wood is norwegian pine, with a burnt finish coated in raw linseed oil

rknutson84 (author)2014-06-23

I made my very own as a "happy new kitchen" present for a friend. I had some scrap Koa wood I had used for a butcher block island top, and with a dark stain.

banzi06 (author)2014-02-13


bright.n.squirrelly (author)2013-12-17

I actually used a half-gallon mason jar for mine. It is still not finished, because I have to use some shorter skewers to fill in the space around the inside wall of the jar, but my knife test proves that it does work.

canable (author)2013-01-18

I very much like this idea. I have always been concerned about microbes, viruses, and whatever else that may make you sick. Protecting the edge is very well done with this design, and I like it! I would like to suggest plastic skewers , or quivelant, to prevent the amazing ability of germs, viruses,microbes,e-boli. whatever, staying alive in dry or non life giving areas. I am also in agreement with " mid _life_crisis " as a very good way to facilitate cleaning.

Silver_Kate (author)canable2013-09-17

In labs where things are cultured plastic is used. From pipettes to petri dishes. Bamboo is naturally anti bacterial (well according to the web).

However I am betting the plastic skewers would look perty and if you wash you knifes like normal would work.

I would love to see one made the way you suggested. If you made it will you post the pictures? Thank you.

ManifoldSky (author)canable2013-08-10

Studies have conclusively shown that plastic surfaces are far more conducive to bacterial transfer than wooden ones.

ben.chapman (author)2013-01-12

I saw your instructable before Christmas and decided to make one for my girlfriend and one for my parents!  Thanks for the inspiration!

strooom (author)ben.chapman2013-02-02

Well done !
I see you like the Wusthof knives as well :-)
Thanks for posting the pictures, I'm glad I could inspire you and I'm sure your version will futher inspire others.

frapedia (author)2013-01-19

great idea, beautiful effect and most important its totally effective!

Dream Dragon (author)2013-01-04

Very simple and effective.

wchoy (author)2012-12-30

I'm always washing my knife. So I would be more concerned that my blade of my knife would rust, if it sat on a wet sponge.

Cork sound better.

shazni (author)2012-12-29 is my 2 cent worth of advice...push a thick piece of Styrofoam inside the box...prick your skewers in... and you are done! the sticks wouldn't fall off and you can easily clean up. so no gluing up needed too :-)

bajablue (author)2012-12-25

I love this! Is there a reason you haven't entered it in the Holiday Gift Contest?

strooom (author)bajablue2012-12-26

Well, I was a bit too busy to notice the contest, but thanks for your suggestion : I've submitted this instructible. I made one for my parents as holiday gift and they were really happy.

bajablue (author)strooom2012-12-26

Best of Luck to you!

ArmandJess (author)2012-12-23

So simple, but incredibly useful, thanks for sharing

mrsthursday (author)2012-12-20

A client I clean for has one of these and it's several years old and she's still happy with it- so there's an endorsement for ya.

SandLizard (author)2012-12-16

Brilliant. Simply brilliant!

amauri12 (author)2012-12-14

excellent am going to build it.

About This Instructable




Bio: Learn - Make - Share --- I am a freelance Designer. If you like my designs and would like me to design or build something for you, feel ... More »
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