I built all the cabinetry in our remodeled kitchen, a job that demanded intense decision making. For example, when I built the corner cabinet, I knew I would have an odd-size cabinet to the right of the stove. Stumped by its apparent non-utility, I made an MDF panel to cover the opening and contemplated fixing it in place. Sure, the door wouldn’t open, but the cabinet space behind it shared space with the corner cabinet, so all functionality would not be lost.
Then one day, as I was putting items back into the kitchen, I came across our maple knife block on the counter. It wasn’t anything special. As a matter of fact, not all our knives even fit into the block, which has led to routine hunts for the right cutlery. I eyed the small cabinet space next to the stove and realized that it would make a great spot for a cabinet with a pullout knife drawer.
Originally, I built a small box with 3/4-in. plywood and assembled it with screws. I left the bottom open to ensure that nothing that fell through the top would get stuck in the box. I dadoed out space on each side of the box for side-mounted drawer slides to maximize the width of the drawer, then added a maple top with 3/16-in. kerfs that the knives could slide into. I left about an inch of wood between the two slots to add stability and to ensure adequate space for the knives. Two holes in one of the slots allow space for kitchen shears and the honing steel. I installed the slides, fitted the drawer front to the box, and called it done. Once I filled my drawer with sharp knives, however, I found a critical design flaw. Opening the drawer caused the knives to swing freely and fly out of place like the largest switchblade I’ve ever seen. To prevent that from happening, I disassembled the box, built individual knife dividers out of 1/4-in. Balticbirch plywood, and reassembled the unit. Now the knives stay in place, and we know where all our knives are when we’re cooking. As an added bonus, the drawer also will help to secure our knives when it’s time to childproof our home.
A better knife block. Redesigning the narrow cabinet next to the stove into a custom cutlery collector brings order and safety to the kitchen.