Shop projects – Knifeblock 1

While living in Japan I ended up with a collection of kitchen knives, and when I came home I found that they did not fit neatly in with my other knives, and looking at buying a new knifeblock for them I found they didn’t fit those either. Some of my knives were too wide, some too thick, some too long, or the handles were simply too large to fit in between other knives. As an interim solution I kept the cardboard sheaths I had made to keep them safe on the way back from Japan and put them in the knife drawer, but that was clearly not a long term solution.

I was working on another project in the shop when I had to move a piece of scrap 4×4 and it looked like it would work out well as the basis for a knife block. It was dense yellow pine and had originally been a leg on my loft bed at college. For the last 18 years it had found it’s way into many different temporary uses as a piece of wood too good to throw away but not quite right to get cut up and used in a “final” project. I brought the knifes down to the shop and did a rough layout, and it looked like it actually would work.

To make the knifeblock I started out by measuring the blade length of the longest knife and cutting a piece of the 4×4 slightly longer than it. I then ran all 4 sides through the jointer to square and smooth the block. Next I determined roughly where I wanted the knives to go and, based on that, determined how much wood could be taken off the block to form the top and sides and sliced them off on the bandsaw. I could have also sliced off an end, but I prefer knifeblocks to have through passages so any moisture or debris has an easy way out.

It was then time for the final layout and cutting of the grooves in the block to accept the knives. For the smaller blades this was quite straightforward, but several of the knives have fairly wide blades and called for extra care to safely make the deep grooves required. With the grooves cut it was time for a test fit, and once everything was confirmed to be in order the sides and top were glued back onto the body of the block, which gave an excuse to use nearly every small clamp in the shop. A few minutes on a belt sander followed by a final pass by hand gave a smooth and clear surface, which a coat of walnut oil brought out to a fitting finish.

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