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Knife Block

After the Morris chair, I decided to try something easier, or so I thought.  Have you checked out the prices of maple knife blocks lately?  A bit much I thought, so here's my next project. 

Having completed it, I figure I've got about $40 of hard maple and about 20 hours of effort into it.  It would have made much more sense to buy a nice one, but that's not what we do, right?

This turned out to be harder than I would have thought!  I thought briefly about making a few of these and selling them but it's definitely not cost effective!

I first drew up a sketch of how the slots in the front should be laid out, using our knives to determine spacing and length of slot.  Then I worked out how to cut and assemble pieces to get the slots where I wanted. 

It turns out for this design you need 18 pieces of wood, all precisely dadoed, planed and jointed or you get ugly gaps.  If you squint, you might be able to make out the joints - some are obvious, some aren't.  The rows with three and four slots were the trickiest. 

As you can see in the picture above, the steak knife slots at the bottom could have used more spacing from the next row up and the large knives at the top didn't need as much space as I gave them.

To build it, I cut each required piece to size and then cut the dado slots.  I began glue-up by sticking a few of the horizontal pieces together at a time.  I then glued these units together until I had all the horizontal pieces in place. I then planed the vertical edges smooth and glued on the four vertical (side) pieces.  I can safely say I used every clamp I have. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see the small pieces of white UHMW plastic that I inserted into each slot. I planed a large piece to the proper slot width (just under 1/4" from my stacked dado set) and then cut many small pieces.  These spacers ensured that the slots would remain the proper width during the clamping process.  Hint: one wide one helped immensely for the row with 3 slots...

I was going to build a triangular-shaped wedge to act as the stand you see on store-bought ones, but it turns out it's so rear-heavy that it's happy to sit as you see this without any help. I made the angled cut on my new Jet 18" bandsaw (drive-by gloat) such that each knife tip was safely recessed from the exit of its slot.

I sanded down to 400, finished it with several coats of mineral oil and stuck 4 green felt pads to the bottom. It weighs about 15 pounds, so it doesn't move around much...