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.
Step 6: Glue Up the Five Pieces
Here you see the five pieces glued up. Do not let too much glue run into the recesses for the knife blades. I scraped and sanded the laminated faces of the knife block to make a smooth surface on all sides.
I rounded the corners on all horizontal edges. A file or a belt sander works well.
Step 7: The Base
In the photo you can also see that I put a 45 degree chamfer on all edges of the knife block that were not rounded in the previous step.
The upright portion of the base is two pieces of oak glued together for a total thickness of about 1 3/8 inches. Before cutting it, I used a fulcrum and experimented with where the fulcrum should rest to achieve the angle I wanted and to find a balance point so the knife block would be stable when standing on the counter. The upright portion of the base holds the knife block about two inches over the top of the flat horizontal part of the base. The flat horizontal portion is 4 3/8 inches square. I used the router to make a quarter round profile on all four sides.
The curves in the upright portion were done with two sizes of hole saws. I smoothed them with a sanding drum on my radial arm saw.
A long sheet metal screw (head recessed) goes from under the flat horizontal piece through the vertical part of the base and into the knife block. The pieces are also glued.
After sanding, I rubbed on mineral oil. It does not become rancid and makes a pleasing finish.
Step 8: The Finished Knife Block
Here you see the finished knife block from a side view. This knife block holds the knives at an angle that makes the handles easy to grasp.
Do not insert knives with food particles on them into the recesses for the blades, or it could make a nest for bacteria.