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Magnetic Knife Strips

Published March 2017

How we tested

Magnetic knife strips hold knives of all shapes and sizes without taking up valuable drawer or counter space. Since we last tested knife strips, our favorite, the Messermeister Bamboo Knife Magnet, introduced a new mounting system and changed the shape and size of its magnets. We wanted to know whether the revamped strip met our standards—and whether it stood up to new competition. So we bought seven knife strips of different materials, priced from $15.30 to $154.95, including our redesigned winner; mounted them on a wall; and used them to hold our winning and Best Buy six-piece à la carte knife sets. We focused on models that were between 15 and 18 inches long; we’d learned in a previous testing that this was the best size for most kitchens and knife collections.

A few features separated the best from the rest. While none of the strips were difficult to install, some were easier than others. Most models must be mounted on a pair of screws, requiring you to measure, level, and do a bit of experimentation to get the distance and depth of the screws just right. We preferred models that required no measuring or fussing and could be leveled and screwed directly into the wall. Once properly installed, all the strips were equally stable.

The depth of the strips mattered. Models with slim profiles kept our knives too close to the wall, making it hard for us to reach in and grab the handles without scraping our knuckles. We liked models with at least ¾ inch of clearance, and more was even better.

We used iron filings to learn more about the magnets used. Although magnet size, shape, and type didn’t matter, magnet strength was important. Magnets that allowed the knives to slip or swing freely when we jostled them or smacked the wall above were worrisome. We preferred models with magnets that were strong enough to securely hold our heaviest knife (our 18-ounce winning cleaver) without wobbling but not so strong that removing the knife was a struggle. None of the models had noticeable gaps between their magnets, but some left portions of the ends unmagnetized; this was a minor annoyance, not a deal breaker. And with one exception, this small flaw didn’t significantly change the capacity of the bars; each could still hold our full knife sets with room to spare.

Finally, we liked models that were durable. To simulate long-term use, we attached and removed different knives repeatedly. The knives themselves emerged unscathed, but some of the strips got scraped or nicked, especially after the cleaver was removed. The material of the bars wasn’t a factor—wood and metal models proved equally likely to get scratched or dinged.

In the end, our old winner, the Messermeister Bamboo Knife Magnet, $59.95, emerged victorious yet again. If anything, its new features make it even better than before. The new mounting system made it the easiest strip to install: simply level and screw its separate backing to the wall and then slide the magnetized strip over it. The new bar-shaped magnets provided better overall coverage and held knives of all sizes and weights even more securely than before. As the thickest in our testing, it gave even big hands plenty of clearance when we went to grab a knife. And it survived our abuse tests with just the tiniest of scratches, looking almost as great after testing as it did right out of the box.

Methodology

We tested seven 15- to 18-inch knife strips, priced from $15.30 to $154.95, installing them and using them to hold our winning and Best Buy à la carte knife sets (chef’s knife, slicing knife, serrated knife, boning knife, paring knife, and shears). To test the magnets’ holding power, we attached and removed heavy cleavers; we also loaded the strips with the Best Buy knife set and hit the wall above them 10 times. To test durability, we attached and removed a brand-new chef’s knife 100 times and a cleaver 10 times, examining the strips and knives for damage and testing the knives’ sharpness afterward. And we used iron filings to reveal the size, shape, and location of the magnets in each strip. All models were purchased online, and they appear in order of preference.

CLEARANCE: We gave more points to models that provided good clearance between knife handles and the wall, allowing us to easily remove and attach knives.

MAGNETS: We awarded more points to models with medium-strength magnets that covered the entire strip.

DURABILITY: We subtracted points from models that were easily scratched or nicked or that broke apart during extensive testing.

EASE OF INSTALLATION: We awarded more points to models that were easy to install.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

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.

$248.64*
Recommended

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.

$141.90*

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.

$67.99*
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.

$49.93*
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.

$129.95*

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.

$99.95*

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.

$24.99*

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.

$35.88*