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Plastic-Wrap Dispensers

Published September 2017

How we tested

Store-bought boxes of plastic wrap feature teeth or slide cutters that require the user to keep one hand on the box while attempting to pull and cut tangle-free sheets with the other hand. This can cause ragged cuts and leave the plastic wrap sticking to itself, leading to headaches and waste.

Plastic-wrap dispensers promise to remedy these issues. These products, typically made of plastic or thick cardboard and able to accommodate a variety of roll sizes, all have built-in cutters—either a slide cutter or a push-down blade. They are designed to remain stationary on the counter, freeing up both of the user’s hands to evenly pull and cut tangle-free sheets. To find out if these dispensers were worth using, we purchased three models priced from $11.95 to $23.38 and put them to the test.

We were pleasantly surprised that most of the dispensers were a dramatic improvement on the built-in dispenser that came with our winning plastic wrap, Glad Cling Wrap Clear Plastic. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. The ChicWrap Plastic Wrap Dispenser’s slide-cutter knob occasionally got buried under the plastic wrap, forcing us to reposition the plastic wrap before cutting. And this cardboard model was so light that pulling out the plastic wrap shifted the entire dispenser. The only way to avoid this was to awkwardly pull upward and then out before cutting.

But one model fared even worse. The Kuhn Rikon Fast Wrap Flatware Organizer also shifted on the counter when we pulled wrap forward, so again we had to pull up first and then forward. But more problematic was the Kuhn Rikon’s push-down cutting mechanism, which sometimes gave us perforated plastic wrap instead of a clean cut. This product performed better after we shifted our hand placement from the outer edges of the dispenser to the center of the dispenser when we pressed down to cut, though even then it occasionally still didn’t cut cleanly. This dispenser also made a loud croaking noise when we pulled plastic wrap, which didn’t hinder the dispenser’s performance but was certainly bothersome.

The star of the show was the Stretch-Tite Wrap’n Snap 7500 Dispenser ($22.00), which performed the best in every test. Its cleverly concealed blade gave us a clean cut every time, the loading mechanism was smooth and tangle-free, we could pull plastic wrap forward without the dispenser falling over, and its height—it stands tallest of the bunch—made it easier to wrap bowls. In sum, it was easier and faster to use than the box of wrap you buy at the supermarket.

The only catch? The Stretch-Tite dispenser can’t be stored in shallow kitchen drawers, as it stands almost 5 inches high. But it’s a minor price to pay for effortlessly smooth sheets of plastic wrap.

Methodology

We tested three plastic-wrap dispensers priced from $11.95 to $23.38, equipping each dispenser with a full roll of Glad Cling Wrap Clear Plastic, our winning plastic wrap. To test ease of use, cutting ability, and tangle avoidance, we repeatedly pulled 12-inch and 6-inch sheets of plastic wrap from each dispenser. We also repeatedly wrapped a glass bowl—both empty and after being heated in the microwave with 1/2 cup of water in it. We tested stability by noting whether the dispenser moved from its spot on the counter when we pulled sheets of plastic wrap, and we tested speed by timing 15 pulls—five 12-inch sheets, five 6-inch sheets, and wrapping a glass bowl filled with heated water five times—and averaging the times. We tested the blade durability on the winning dispenser by pulling 100 sheets of plastic wrap in a row, and we tested ease of storage by attempting to place each dispenser in two different shallow kitchen drawers. All models were purchased online and appear in order of preference.

Stability: We rated each dispenser on whether it remained stationary on the counter while we were pulling plastic wrap, giving top preference to models that did not move during use or require extra finagling.

Tangle Avoidance: We pulled 6-inch and 12-inch sheets of plastic wrap, and we pulled sheets big enough to cover a bowl—both empty at room temperature and after being heated in the microwave with 1/2 cup of water in it—assigning more points to models that consistenty dispensed tangle-free sheets.

Cutting Ability: We pulled sheets of plastic wrap during multiple rounds of testing, noting how well the dispensers’ blades cut the plastic, and gave top ratings to dispensers that made consistently clean cuts.

Ease of Use: We prepared dispensers for use, installed rolls of plastic wrap, pulled sheets of plastic wrap in varying sizes, and pulled sheets to be used to cover a bowl, giving highest marks to dispensers that were easy to set up, remained stationary during use, and allowed us to easily pull sheets of plastic wrap.

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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*