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Grapefruit Knives

Published March 2015

How we tested

A grapefruit knife, a small tool with a curved blade that’s serrated on both sides of the metal, is designed to section the pulp by hugging the walls and membranes of the fruit as you cut, separating the sections from the peel without picking up pith. (This gives grapefruit knives a distinct advantage over conventional paring knives.) First, you run the blade around the inner rim of the grapefruit half, hugging the curve to separate the fruit from the peel. Then, you trace the spokes of membrane with the blade tip to make grapefruit triangles, which are easy to scoop up with a spoon. Traditional models look like bent steak knives, but we also found double-ended versions with a traditional blade on one end and a pair of close-set blades on the other that straddle and slice the membrane sections with fewer cuts. We tested five models (priced from $5.66 to $15.39): two traditional, two double-ended, and an innovative design that supposedly digs out the fruit in one shovel-like motion.

The latter failed outright, mangling the fruit, while the double-ended knives made work difficult because their short central handles meant that one blade was always pressed against our palms. Their dual blades also trapped pulp. Of the traditional models, one sported steeply bent blades that punctured fruit and made a juicy mess. Handles affected our agility if they were too long for small hands or too petite for larger ones. The range of handle lengths in our lineup was 2.9 to 4.4 inches. This difference is a little more than an inch, but it’s significant. A 4.4-inch handle was too long for some testers, while 3.9 inches was just right. Our universal favorite sported a moderately long plastic handle, which was comfortable for all testers, and whose gentle 25-degree curved blade made tidy, precise cuts.

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The Results


Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.


Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.


Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.


Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.


Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.


Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.