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Keep your Most Valuable Kitchen Tools at the Ready

Knife blocks allow you to store your knives without mounting a magnetic strip on your kitchen wall or taking up valuable drawer space with an organizer. Because conventional blocks hold only knives of specific sizes (the small slot for the paring knife, the deep slot for the slicer, etc.), we prefer universal blocks, which are designed to accommodate knives of all sizes in any configuration. There are two types of universal knife blocks: those that use magnets to secure the knives and those that use a mass of bristles or folds or an open grid to hold them. To find the best universal knife block on the market, we tested 10 models priced from $24.99 to $248.64, using them to hold both our winning and Best Buy six-piece à la carte knife sets (which both include a pair of shears).




Reviewed in Cook’s Illustrated November 2016
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.


Checkmark   Large capacity

Checkmark   Neatly and safely contains most or all of the knife blades

Checkmark   Good magnetic coverage and strength

Checkmark   Sturdy, nonslip base

Checkmark   Easy to clean


Dimentions: 3.5 x 9 x 9 in
Material: Acacia wood, stainless steel, acrylic, neoprene, manganese zinc ferrite magnets
Weight: 3.9 lb

How we tested knife blocks

We tested 10 universal knife blocks priced from about $25 to just under $250, using them to hold our winning and Best Buy à la carte knife sets, each featuring a chef’s knife, serrated knife, paring knife, slicing knife, boning knife, and shears. We also checked to see if the models could hold our favorite heavy cleaver. We used iron filings to assess the number, size, arrangement, and strength of the magnets, where applicable. Blocks were evaluated on their design, safety, durability, and ease of cleanup.


We gave more points to blocks that fit our winning and Best Buy six-piece à la carte knife sets comfortably and made it easy to attach/insert and remove knives.


We gave more points to blocks that sat securely on the counter, had guards that protected our fingers from accidentally coming into contact with blade edges, and were tall or wide enough so that no knife blade stuck out.


To simulate long-term use, we inserted or attached and removed a chef’s knife 100 times for each block, evaluating the block for any damage and the knife for any dulling. We liked knife blocks that showed less wear and tear after repeated use.


We spattered each block with tomato sauce and washed it by hand; dishwasher-safe models went through the dishwasher an additional five times. Blocks that were easy to clean received higher marks.

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