Universal Knife Blocks

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Project by Warren posted 04-21-2010 08:36 PM 3177 views 10 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I saw some knife blocks like this on the internet so thought Id try my hand at making some, they are actually really simple to to. The hard part was finding all of the skewers to go inside at a reasonable price! There are over 2000 in each block so buying them 100 at a time would have left a bill of over $20 for each one.

Eventually I found a way to buy them in bulk for less than half the price so I powered a few different ones out. The ones shown in the pictures are made with Bubinga, Lenga and Jatoba. I experimented a little with dimensions and angles but to be honest, they all work equally well.

The one thing I am questioning is whether to silicone the skewers into the base as depending on the knife, they can be drawn out a ways when you pull a knife out. The reason I haven’t is that the more knifes you put in, the tighter the skewers get. By leaving them loose, you can pull a few out which means you can get more knifes in.

Id love to hear your thoughts

-- Im more succesfull at making sawdust than I am at making furniture

16 comments so far

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 4333 days

#1 posted 04-21-2010 08:53 PM

Devin also made a block in this same fashion with the skewers. Not sure if he ever came up with a solution or not regarding the skewers coming out vs. glueing them in and not being able to fit enough knives in?

The only idea I have to help hold the skewers in-place would be trying some of that green foam that flowershops use to stick flowers into. That way, maybe it’d hold the skewers, but you could still pull a few out if you needed to. Or maybe only stick in about 90% the skewers, then cut the other 10% to be the same height as the ones that are in the foam, but simply push them down until they’re resting on the foam. Then you could pull them out as need be. In order to identify the shorter/removeable ones, maybe tint/dye them a different color? It sounds like a pain, but maybe it’d work?

Would you mind sharing your “bulk source” on the skewers?

These are nicely done!

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View SgtSnafu's profile


960 posts in 4554 days

#2 posted 04-21-2010 08:56 PM

Great knife blocks – well done

Thanks for sharing

-- Scotty - aka... SgtSnafu - Randleman NC

View JimNEB's profile


239 posts in 4351 days

#3 posted 04-21-2010 09:21 PM

I’ve seen this idea before and thought it was very clever. Its on my list of things to make “when I get the time”. Those look really nice, I can see them setting on my kitchen counter.

-- Jim, Nebraska

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 5274 days

#4 posted 04-21-2010 09:32 PM


Nice work but don’t leave us hanging; what was the source for the skewers.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Devin's profile


166 posts in 4811 days

#5 posted 04-21-2010 09:53 PM

Hey there, nice looking blocks. The solution I ended up going with was strips of 1/4” maple at the base of the skewer section, cut with a bevel edge. The strips effectively made the base of the skewer section 1/2” narrower all the way around, making the fit quite tight at the base while still allowing movement for plenty of knives. This isn’t a perfect solution but it works pretty well (I still get the odd skewer pulling out an inch or so). I know that Marc (the woodwhisperer) recently built a version of these from the pop wood article and he glued them into the container.
Click for details

-- If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

View Warren 's profile


76 posts in 4562 days

#6 posted 04-21-2010 10:21 PM

Jonathan, I like the flower arrangement foam idea, I might try it. I just wonder if as there are so many skewers, if the foam will be completely destroyed!

Devin, yours is amazing! It must have took you ages. I made mine as simple as possible, no fancy joinery. (I used the Festool Domino), nothing jazzy other than the wood itself. I am expecting to sell quite a few of these so wanted to make them easily repeatable. As for the moving skewers, did you find that your results changed simply on how many skewers were placed in the block? Ive found that two variables have influenced my blocks, one is density of the skewers and the second, oddly, is the shape of the block, the squarer the block the more they come out, the more rectangular they are the less the come out. Still haven’t quite worked that out yet to be honest

To put the rest of you out of your misery, and I’m sorry to say back into your misery…............

I got the skewers here,

but I am in Europe, Spain to be precise and so Im quite sure the shipping to the states would eliminate any possible saving you might have. I bought 20,000 for 76 EUR and with that I was able to make 9 block which means it is only costing me around 9 EUR for the skewers. I would encourage you all to look around though, having lived in Costa Rica for a few years I am quite sure you will find suppliers in central America who could offer you a good price. I personally went as far as contacting companies in China to find out the best prices but as I didn’t want 100k+ I was to small fry for them. Another tip would be a kitchen supply company, I found quite a few in the States when I was doing my research that offered competitive pricing. I’m sorry to say I don’t have their details any more

-- Im more succesfull at making sawdust than I am at making furniture

View RalphNevin's profile


71 posts in 4314 days

#7 posted 04-21-2010 10:25 PM

That’s great…...I want to make one.

-- Ralph New Hampshire,

View bigike's profile


4059 posts in 4571 days

#8 posted 04-22-2010 03:01 AM

oh man saweeet knife blocks the chrome handles make it look that much better. good work!

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 5016 days

#9 posted 04-22-2010 04:27 AM

Do the knife blades reach the bottom of the block? If not, how about play dough or modeling clay at the bottom in which to stick the skewers. You could still remove them, as required, but they shouldn’t pull out with the knives.


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View Devin's profile


166 posts in 4811 days

#10 posted 04-22-2010 06:32 AM

Hey Warren, I did find that the tighter the skewers got the more likely it seemed some would be pulled out with the knife. I also find that the knives that taper to a point are less likely to pull skewers then say our bread knife which is a uniform thickness from handle to tip. Interesting that you are finding the shape of box seems to play a role in this, I’ve only made the one so no experience with that.
We’ve been using ours for close to 2 years now, my partner is a cook and the knives are in and out of this block many times a day. I can say she’s never had any issues with knives knocking into each other, we haven’t noticed any faster dulling and only very rarely do we have to push 4 or 5 skewers back in about an inch or two (from the bread knife).

-- If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

View Warren 's profile


76 posts in 4562 days

#11 posted 04-22-2010 08:28 AM

Jim, no they dont reach the bottom. The skewers are 25 cm long which is longer than 90% of all knifes out there, the downside is that it does appear quite big. I am thinking of making some smaller ones but trimming down 2,000+ skewers is always an adventure, even if I tape them all together! Also, I haven’t had any problems with the knifes coming into contact with one another and to be honest, I don’t really see how they could, you will always have at least one skewer between them and probably a lot more.

-- Im more succesfull at making sawdust than I am at making furniture

View ghazard's profile


382 posts in 4792 days

#12 posted 04-22-2010 03:11 PM

This is a great project. Really well done, Warren.

I am planning a “kitchen” themed set of projects for my sisters wedding this fall. A recipe box and a pepper mill…and maybe now a knife block.

What if the lip at the opening overhung the sides, to the inside, by about 1/4”. Then fit 1/4” thick foam lining the inside, under the lip so that it is hidden. Now fill the space with skewers right up to a “no-slop” fit, without knives, and sized so the points of the skewers are below the lip. When knives are inserted the foam will allow some expansion and allow any number of knives to fit…but also keep a tight looking block with zero knives inserted. And I wonder if that would keep a more even pressure on the knives when there are many compared to few inserted…thus reducing the tendency to pull out skewers when lots of knives are in. Huh…I don’t know. The drawback would be that the top lip would look quite thick compared to the rest of the block…

Thanks for the inspiration, Warren. I will say that I really like the look of yours with the tips showing. It adds a nice look and contrast to the wood.

Either way…these are really well done.


-- "Hey, you dang woodchucks! Quit chuckin' my wood!"

View Warren 's profile


76 posts in 4562 days

#13 posted 04-22-2010 05:28 PM

greg, to be honest I don’t think a lip would make that much difference, the problem is that the friction between the knifes and skewers is such that when you draw the knife out the ones touching it are inclined to come out too. I don’t think a lip around the edge would change that. I think tomorrow I shall try gluing in the skewers with silicon and see what the result is, I have a bunch of them so am happy to experiment with the odd one. It really isn’t that big a problem, it only happens occasionally but as we are all perfectionists, we want the perfect result! Glue is probably the answer to be quite honest, I shall report back once I have some results

-- Im more succesfull at making sawdust than I am at making furniture

View ghazard's profile


382 posts in 4792 days

#14 posted 04-22-2010 07:35 PM

Agreed that the lip itself wouldn’t do anything to stop the skewers from pulling out…I was just thinking about how to create constant pressure within the skewers no matter how many knives are in. I imagine that the more knives there are the tighter the skewers become and the more they tend to pull out when removing a knife…? So allowing a little expansion via the foam might ease that. The lip would just hide the foam.

I’m interested to hear how the glue works.


-- "Hey, you dang woodchucks! Quit chuckin' my wood!"

View Warren 's profile


76 posts in 4562 days

#15 posted 04-23-2010 07:14 PM

Just siliconed the skewer into one of the blocks, first impression seems to be that the glue is repelling them, as in pushing them out as it dries, I have put a little bit of weight on top in the hope that this will counter act the repelingness (I claim this word as my own) of the silicon.

more to follow….......

-- Im more succesfull at making sawdust than I am at making furniture

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