Published January 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.
Do "universal" knife blocks hold knives of every shape, size, and make?
Update: September 2011
Our previous favorite, the Kapoosh 650 Universal Knife Block, had one caveat: Blades longer than 8 inches stick out. We discovered two new models—a bi-level block from Kapoosh and a newcomer from Bodum. The Kapoosh held just as many blades as its predecessor, but it wobbled and its shorter lower level shielded only 5 inches of blade. The Bodum, however, represented an upgrade: Not only did its narrow frame hold nine knives in a more compact footprint, but it completely sheathed all but a 12-inch slicer once the knives were inserted diagonally.
Do "universal" knife blocks hold knives of every shape, size, and make? We tested three models. One is a simple wooden box of tightly packed bamboo skewers meant to cradle the knives. It holds knives at an awkward 90-degree angle, and when you pull them out, unattached skewers pop up, too. It's also flimsily constructed: Three of the four we ordered arrived broken. Our second product was a bit better. It is a magnetized wooden block that grips up to 10 knives (but not ceramic ones) along its surface. Unfortunately, its grasp is almost too strong: Knives release only with a vigorous tug that makes the tall, narrow structure wobble. The best (and cheapest) of the lot comfortably shelters up to 10 tools in its dishwasher-safe nest of spaghetti-like plastic rods, and the sturdy box's opening is at an accessible angle. Though we wish it were deeper—handles of blades over 8 inches stuck out—it makes a practical home for most knives.