Published November 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.
When you run out of space in your drawers, a magnetic knife strip offers an elegant solution—if you buy the right one.
Update: February 24, 2012
We have contacted Messermeister about the current unavailability of our winning magnetic knife strip. The company is switching manufacturers, so they are out of stock at retailers. The product has not been discontinued; new batches should be available in one to two months. Messermeister also noted that they have improved the mounting system to make it easier, added stronger magnets to hold the knives, and will be offering the strip in more types of wood. Once the new strips appear in retail stores, we will purchase and retest this product to make sure we still recommend this model.
Wall-mounted magnetic knife strips store knives without demanding precious drawer or counter space, plus they can accommodate even the longest knives. (Even our favorite universal knife block fails to sheath a 12-inch blade.) However, if the strip can’t secure a typical range of cutlery—8-inch chef’s, 12-inch slicing, 12-inch serrated, boning, and paring knives, along with kitchen shears—it isn’t worth hanging.
We tested five models priced from $19.99 to $50 and ranging from 12 to 16 1/2 inches long. Two were wood, two were stainless steel, and one had a rubberized plastic surface. We rated them on how easy they were to install, how many knives they held, magnet placement and strength, whether they hurt the knives, and how easy they were to maintain. All were fairly simple to install, though they did require a drill and a spirit level.
To test holding power, we put light and heavy knives on each strip, from a small paring knife to a 15 1/2-ounce meat cleaver, and checked how firmly they held, even shaking the board on which the strips were mounted. All stayed rock steady. Next, we placed and removed a new chef’s knife on each strip 100 times and then checked blades for scuffs, scratches, and dulling. Only one knife holder caused nicks when our blade hit its hard metal strip.
We preferred strips that stretched at least 15 inches—but magnetization from end to end proved just as important. Some left 3/4 to 1 inch of nonmagnetized, unusable space on each side, and one model’s interspersed magnets required direct placement of the blades, lest they slide precariously.
Our winner held knives securely in place, didn’t nick blades, and was the only strip with more than 1 inch of clearance between the wall and the knives, keeping our knuckles scrape-free.