Under Cabinet Knife Storage: An Option for Small Kitchens
- Storing your knives under your kitchen cabinet can be an effective knife storage solution.
- Using a magnetic knife holder is one of the best options as long as the knives are secure and visible, and can’t be accidentally dislodged.
- Other options for storing your knives under the cabinet are available as well.
Properly storing your knives is one of the key components of knife maintenance. Knife storage tools have two primary functions. The first is to keep you and your loved ones safe: Knives are sharp, after all. The second is to organize your knives.
There are, however, important secondary functions to knife storage devices that are worth considering. For example, saving counter space or drawer space can be valuable, especially in smaller kitchens.
Of the many options available for knife storage — knife blocks, wall-mounted magnetic strips, drawer organizers — one that you could find suitable is under-cabinet knife storage. There are a few different ways to do so, but the effect is the same: the knives are stored under a kitchen cabinet, saving counter space and keeping your cutlery out of sight until it's needed.
Because knives are sharp, it’s critically important that they are safely stored. That means they need to be visible, well-secured, and out of the way of other kitchen activity. Cabinet doors are often opened, so the knives need to be very secure. A falling knife is dangerous to everyone in your kitchen.
Follow along as we explore the different types of under-cabinet knife storage devices, with their pros and cons.
A Simple Magnetic Rack
The simplest way to achieve under-cabinet storage is simply to mount a magnetic knife rack to the bottom of your cabinet. The effect is essentially the same as a wall-mounted rack: your stainless steel knives are safely held in place while saving counter space. Another upside of a magnetic solution is that it keeps your knives clean and dry. And because neither the tip nor the blade slides against the magnet, your knife will maintain its sharp edge.
The downside of this option is the potential lack of visibility. If you're taller than the bottom of your cabinet, you'll have to stoop to see which knife is which. Additionally, you’ll need to make sure that the magnet is strong: If a little jostling makes a knife fall, that’s bad news. You don’t want a knife falling every time you reach for something in your spice collection.
A Drop-Down Magnetic Rack
A drop-down magnetic knife block is the more refined version of the simple under-cabinet rack. There are a few varieties of this, but the concept is the same: A magnetic knife strip is attached to a board that’s usually made of wood. The board collapses upwards via springs or joints attached to the bottom of the cabinet. This means your knives will fit snugly between the board and the cabinet itself: a much safer option than a simple magnetic rack since there’s an extra layer of wood between you and the knives.
The benefits of the magnetic rack in this circumstance are the same as the simple under-cabinet rack: In addition to it being a great space saver, your knives won't go falling and they won't lose their sharp blade.
This type of magnetic knife holder is an upgrade to the simple under-cabinet magnetic rack because it adds visibility, security, and easy access to your cutlery set provided it’s securely installed and built. Additionally, it gives you a better opportunity to show off both your kitchen knives and your cool kitchen gadgetry. Several companies like The Drop Block make them.
A Non-Magnetic Drop-Down Rack
Some drop-down storage racks don't utilize a magnetic strip. This option leads to an obvious problem: The knives may not be secured correctly and can fall out, especially if you move the rack more quickly than you anticipated. As the saying goes, a falling knife has no handle.
This problem can be mitigated by dividers or a knife organizer that holds the knives in place securely. The knives should fit perfectly in the organizer: A loose knife coming free of its storage is very dangerous.
An Under-Cabinet Knife Block
An under-cabinet knife block can be another valuable space-saving option. It functions much like a traditional countertop knife block, except that it's mounted on the underside of the cabinet.
There are essentially two varieties of an under-cabinet knife block: the stationary variety and the swivel variety.
In the stationary under-cabinet knife block, your knives' handles will be facing towards you from the underside of the cabinet. The block will be secured by bolts or screws so you can be confident your knives won't be falling to the floor.
The swivel-type knife block, like the one made by Wüsthof, has the advantage of being able to be turned in any direction. This means you can turn the handles of the knives towards the wall, which can be useful if you wish to deter the imaginations of small children.
There are some downsides to an under-cabinet knife block, just like there are to countertop knife blocks. First, the slots where the knives go can collect dust, moisture, and germs. Because many people rarely wash their knife blocks, the germs collected can get on your knives. You definitely can't put a wooden knife block in the dishwasher, since exposure to that much moisture would risk it warping or cracking.
Second, sliding the knife in and out of the knife block can lead to wear on the knife and dulling of the blade. A sharp knife is a safe knife and a useful knife, and keeping your knives sharp is one of the primary jobs of a knife owner and of your knife storage.
Third, unless you purchase your knives with the block as a knife block set, there's no guarantee that your knives will fit in the slots. It'd be very frustrating to find out, for example, that your chef’s knife or steak knives don't fit in their respective places. Knives that fit poorly are at a higher risk of falling out of their block by being jostled loose.
Fourth, you may be guessing which knife you're pulling out based on its handle. If you know your knife set by heart and have memorized its organization, that's no problem. If, however, you're like many of us and occasionally forget these details, you may have to try your luck a few times to get the right knife.
Fifth, and potentially most importantly, the knife block should be installed in a low-traffic area where the knives won’t be accidentally jostled by normal kitchen activity like reaching for something in a cabinet. If you reach up high and bump into the knife block, for example, you expose yourself to risk. So, make sure the knives will be in a place where you won’t bump into them.
As mentioned above, you can install your own under-cabinet solution to make your life easier. The most important thing about an under-cabinet solution is that the knives are safely stored and won’t come loose accidentally. Since cabinets are a high-traffic area, you’ll want the knives to be safe from any potentially dangerous accidents.
If you choose to go the magnetic route, make sure you purchase a strong magnet so the knives hold well to it. Unless you’re a stellar woodworker or cabinet maker, it’s best to have an under-cabinet solution professionally made and installed in order to maximize security.
Give Your Knives a Good Home
Whatever method you choose to store your knives, make sure the sharp edges and points of the knives are properly secured. Not only will you keep your knives organized, you'll also keep the knives and yourself safe. If you can arrange your under-cabinet system so that the knives are certain to be secure, the under-cabinet solution is a potential alternative knife storage option.
We strongly suggest a magnetic knife storage solution mounted on a wall, where the knives are visible and out of the way of routine cabinet opening and closing. It's both the safest and the easiest on your knives. Keeping your knives stored with a strong magnet holds them in place while preventing damage to the knife.