Stay Sharp! Make a knife tray for your kitchen drawer

Knife drawers and magnetic strips are essential to keeping your knives sharp and probing little hands, including yours, safe. Instead of reaching in a dark, deep drawer of sharp things everything has it's place and sharp blades at bay.

I am in the process of redoing my kitchen and was hunting around for the perfect insert to keep all of my knives in line. IKEA used to have cheap little black plastic things that you could hook onto the sides of their organizers to safely tuck your knives away but they were just discontinued.

I scoured the web for other knife trays and found a fantastic one that fit all my needs (and maybe yours):

Dial Industries Expand-a-drawer Knife Edition

It's pretty fantastic, right? But... completely OUT of my price-range when you add shipping and special handling fees to Italy from the US or UK.

I looked locally, including Germany which makes beautiful solid-wood wave-shaped knife trays, but all I could find in Italy were custom made knife drawers starting at €100- out of our budget!
More web searches later, I found these great photos from people who made their own knife drawers:

I was inspired!

Made it myself with just wood & glue!

First, I measured my longest knife blade and widest handle, plus my steak knife blade and handle.

I loosely drew what my drawer insert might look like on a piece of paper and then nothing could keep me from jumping into my car and jetting off to the lumber department of my nearest hardware store. I purchased two wood "poles" 220cm long (1cm and 1.5 cm) wide.

It helps to have a husband who can handle a saw, if not, most hardware stores will do the cuts for little or no money. Just be prepared with the exact sizes, measuring tape and a pencil.

While constructing the insert, I stumbled on a very easy shortcut. Originally, I was just planning to anchor the wood down onto the drawer liner with glue until I could reinforce each piece with screws. Well... I was using IKEA's rubber drawer liners and a hot-glue gun and the heat from the glue completely fused the rubber liner to the wood. The hold was very strong and it was completely unnecessary to add screws for reinforcement!

Total cost in materials: €5, satisfaction: priceless!

A couple of tips, if you plan to make your own:

- For the larger knives, make sure to make a tall handle-rest, otherwise, the knife will rock back and the point will stick up from the slats. As you can see, I just added a second level to the handle-rest slat for the large knives.

- The horizontal piece I stuck at the end of the large knife area is purely decorative to hide the uneven cuts!

- If you use a sharpening rod, like I do, adjust the space in the last slat to accommodate it.

- If you have small children about, invest in a drawer child-proofing, or as I like to call it, child-slowing device.

Happy shopping, or gluing!

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Anonymous said...

You must really have alot of time on your hands! Get a life already...

elle pee said...

Apparently, I do not have as much time to waste as someone surfing the Internet who makes pointless anonymous comments! Enjoy life, make a knife drawer!

Cuddly Family said...

We've been searching for a knife drawer solution, the custom ones in ikea cost the earth and dont fit our kitchen drawers, did it take long?

We thought of having the magnet ones but with young kids in the house, it's not really a safe option.

How long did it take to dry tho?

Cuddly Family said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
elle pee said...

How long did it take to make? The part that took the longest was the planning. Since I could not figure our precisely the millimetric distance between knives, I focused on the lengths and cutting. It´s good to get an approximate idea on paper and then improvise while you are making it.

First, I made the right amount of slots for my steak knives using one of the knives to get the spacing right for each slot. Then, I made as many more large knife slots as would fit, again using my largest thickest knife as a template to get the spacing right. Once I had it all planned and the materials in front of me, the assembly took less than 30 minutes!

How long does it take for the glue to dry, you ask? I used hot-glue. It is a glue that comes in sticks with a dispenser that looks like a gun that melts the sticks inside and drips out hot plastic glue. It only takes as long to dry as it takes for the glue to cool - about 45 seconds!

Be careful though, once the wood with glue is in position on the mat... it will not move again. So be sure about where you want it before you stick it!

Have fun, and send me pictures of your knife drawer!

Cuddly Family said...

thanks a bunch for answering my qs. Now it's to get my hubby to get going with this project haha

he's an artist so therefore he can draw it on paper.. That's the plan. Will def send u pix once we are done with it :)

C. said...

Great idea! Other than the drawer liner, is there anything under the spaced wood to stop/protect the knife blade? I don't know that it would be necessary, I'm just trying to get a better feel for the construction.

elle pee said...

Hi C. I did not put anything, other than a little hot glue between the drawer liner and the drawer. So far, everything seems intact after about three months of use - and I have some pretty sharp high-quality knives that I received as gifts! Perhaps, it is the fact that they are horizontal - they do not saw back and forth when opening and closing the drawer. Also, I am pretty careful about pulling them out and putting it back. A more minimalist option, would be the knife holder on the bottom-right in the knife drawer collage photo. There, it looks like the blade is suspended and not in contact with the bottom of the drawer. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the quick response. In your version, are the wood blocks separate pieces or is it a slab of wood that has been scored? My guess is separate pieces, but then how do you keep the blade spacing if all the blocks are glued together, orrr, are the separate blocks spaced and glued to the drawer liner? I might really be overthinking this one, but I just love the idea. I'm handy with a scroll saw, and I'm hoping to be able to use it to create my knife storage system. (perhaps I'll check out the additional links listed above!) Thank you, again.

elle pee said...

Hi C., would love to see pictures of it when it's done! If you are handy with a scroll saw, using a single slab of wood would make make an impressive knife tray! I used individual strips of wood and glued them individually to the drawer liner. I used my widest knife as a guide between "slats" to decide on the spacing before (and even during)gluing.

Kitchens Springwood said...

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