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Published July 2015

How we tested

Wouldn’t it be nice if a tool would clean your grill for you? The Grillbot aims to do just that: It’s a battery-operated robot with three rotating metal brush bristles for supposed hands-free cleaning of charcoal or gas grill grates. You place the Grillbot on your grill; press a button to set its cleaning cycle for 10, 20, or 30 minutes; shut the grill lid; and, in theory, come back later to a perfectly clean grate. We tried each of the Grillbot’s three cycles on both charcoal and gas grills, putting the robot to the test against everyday and heavy-duty grill-cleaning jobs.

While its 10-minute cycle was enough to clean up after a few steaks or pork cutlets, the Grillbot failed miserably at tougher cleaning jobs. It barely made a dent in residue from burnt chicken or stuck-on glazes, even after two 30-minute cycles.

We quickly learned that a grill brush is the faster and less fussy option. Why? You can apply pressure to the brush and remove tough grime in seconds. Since the Grillbot weighs only 3.5 pounds, it relies on long rounds of lightweight brushing instead of pressure to get grit off the grate—but no amount of ultralight scrubbing is enough to combat tough or thick residue. We also like to heat the grill before scrubbing with a grill brush, which helps loosen food. The Grillbot can only be used on a grill cooled to below 250 degrees (automatic temperature sensors turn the robot off if it gets too hot).

Finally, cleaning the Grillbot was frustrating: While its bristles are dishwasher-safe, we pinched our fingers and covered our hands in grime trying to remove the bristles from the base. Worst of all, one bristle broke in the dishwasher, rendering our Grillbot ineffective after just six uses. We’ll stick with our favorite grill brush.

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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.