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No one wants to scrape their knuckles when they go to grab a knife.
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.
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.
This handsome bamboo knife strip provided 1.25 inches of clearance between knife handles and the wall—the most in our lineup. It had medium-strength magnets that held knives with just the right amount of pull, and it was relatively durable, sustaining only a few tiny scratches after extensive use. Finally, it was by far the easiest strip to install. One minor quibble: It has a half-inch of unmagnetized space on either end.
This long, inexpensive model had a lot going for it: adequate space for our hands to reach in for knives, end-to-end coverage by medium-strength magnets, and a surface that didn’t scratch at all in our tests. But installation for this bar was a little fussier than some—you have to measure and experiment a little to get the distance and depth of the screws just right.
Medium-strength magnets extended the entire length of this handsome bar, and there was adequate clearance between it and the wall. We liked that this model could be screwed directly into the wall, too, although the brackets for the screws were so close to the main bar itself that it was a little tricky to get in to tighten the screws toward the end. Considering its high price, however, we wish this model had been a bit more durable; its metal front scratched easily.
This model protruded just far enough from the wall to give most hands enough room to maneuver. It got only a few minor scratches and nicks after extensive use, and it provided excellent, nearly end-to-end magnet coverage. It was fairly easy to install, coming with a template and a wooden guide to help us insert the screws in the right place and to the right depth. One minor problem: Its magnets were very strong, requiring a little extra force to remove knives.
Dozens of medium-strength magnets dotted the entire surface of this attractive knife strip, providing excellent coverage. But this model was a bit fussy to install, and it had a fairly slim profile, making it a little trickier for us to remove knives. Finally, like several of the other models, it sustained quite a few scratches after repeated use.
The magnetic strip of this model had just the perfect strength. Unfortunately, that strip ended an inch and a half before the holder itself did, limiting the usable space and crowding our knives slightly. Its composite surface scratched easily, its profile was narrow, and as with other models, this knife strip required a bit of adjustment to get the depth of the screws right when mounting.
With a separate back that screwed directly into the wall, this model was easy to install but had little else to recommend it. Its magnetic coverage was good, but the magnets themselves were a bit weak, allowing knives to swing precariously when nudged; its thin profile made it harder to grasp the knives at all. Worst, its sleek matte exterior scratched immediately during testing, and that user-friendly backing broke apart after more extensive handling.