wenge knife rack

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Project by glen posted 03-01-2013 09:27 PM 3503 views 11 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

For valentine’s day, my sweetheart had bought me a new super awesome japanese knife. I love to cook and it was my cooking, in part, that brought us together. While at the store, we saw these awesome knife racks – very minimalist. They wanted $75 for them (they were walnut) and I looked at it, like most woodworkers do, and said “I can build that”. I confirmed online that yup, $75 is the going rate. So off to the shop I went…

I had some wenge lying around. I don’t know why, but it was there, and there was just enough to make this 18” wide knife rack. It’s really just two pieces of wedge glued together, with one of the pieces having a wide rabbet cut into it. I made 2 keyhole slots on the back with my router for mounting.

Finishing this piece was where I had to do the most thinking. Anyone who works with wenge knows that it can be a pain. The pieces I had were fairly heavily figured and I wasn’t a huge fan of the lighter grain. I had read about sanding with oil on it to sort of make your own grain filler, so that’s what I did, knowing that the oil would darken the light grain as well. 50-50 mineral spirits and mineral oil, sanded and left to dry, then repeat. After that, a sand with 220 and a coat of beeswax, and it’s nice and smooth and I think looks pretty sharp. It’s not super glassy – you can probably tell that there are still some grooves in the grain, enough to still call it wenge, but I’m happy with the result.

Go ahead and make one yourself. Super quick and I saved a ton of cash since this is essentially a scrap wood project! The only cost was that of getting a keyhole bit for my router.

That’ll be the last “kitchen project” for a while (last one was a cutting board). And, hopefully the last wenge project ever. Working with that stuff is a pain! Take care…

5 comments so far

View thefrozenwoodworker's profile


19 posts in 3180 days

#1 posted 03-01-2013 10:33 PM

Nice! I was debating doing a block, but I think I like the appearance of this one better. Very nice style and color choice. Thanks for the multiple pictures/angles.

View Daniel Towler's profile

Daniel Towler

16 posts in 4305 days

#2 posted 03-01-2013 10:37 PM

Love the idea. Wenge is so cool, but I haven’t worked with it yet, so I didn’t know it was a pain to sand and finish. Thanks for sharing!

-- "Luck favors the prepared" Edna Mode in 'The Incredibles'

View glen's profile


175 posts in 3802 days

#3 posted 03-01-2013 10:58 PM

Hey Daniel – thanks for the comments. Wenge is a pain at all stages. It splinters really easy, so clean and sharp tools are a must. The wood is more toxic than the average wood we work with. The splinters you may get in your hands tend to get infected, and the dust can be quite toxic. Look it up – scary stuff. I wore a mask at almost all times while sawing or sanding. I sanded by hand to minimize the amount of dust in the air. Sanding with the oil helped as well. I wore gloves a lot and avoided any splinters. The final look – is it worth it? For me, it matches my countertops and I had some lying around, so it was good. I probably would have been just as happy with some black walnut. I think it’s worth a try to work with to decide if you like it enough to deal with it’s more difficult parts.

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3424 days

#4 posted 03-04-2013 04:43 PM

Like the look and it totally matches the kitchen and the beautiful knives as well. Simple but very useful and creates a great impact to the whole look.

View Grantman's profile


118 posts in 5274 days

#5 posted 06-06-2013 04:47 PM

I love it. I’ve been thinking of a knife rack to mount on the wall but my wife hates clutter, and anything that’s exposed is clutter, so everything goes in a drawer. Worst thing for edges, I know, but I’ve lost that battle. Now to figure out what to do for the “sharps drawer.”

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