Universal Knife Block (Design Martin Robitsch)




About: 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 free to contact me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 !

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118 Discussions


2 years ago

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?


2 years ago

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


2 years ago

Dull the edge.... Darn spellcheck


2 years ago

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


2 years ago

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


2 years ago

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

but then they could come out too easy...

2 replies

Reply 2 years ago

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.


Reply 2 years ago

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


3 years ago

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!


3 years ago on Introduction

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

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

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


3 years ago on Introduction

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.


6 years ago on Step 6

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

7 replies

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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.


Reply 6 years ago on Step 6

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 ^_^


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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


Reply 6 years ago on Step 6

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.


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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 http://www.healthyhouseinstitute.com/hhip_769-Oriented_Strand_board_OSB