187 – The Knife Block

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For the last few years, Popular Woodworking has been publishing numerous projects within their I Can Do That series. The idea is to provide straightforward project plans that just about anybody can do with a basic set of tools. Back in 2009, with Popular Woodworking’s permission, I decided to build a few of these projects for our Guild members. So this video shows you how to build the Knife Block, designed by Chris Schwarz. It’s a fun little project that makes a great gift, especially if you’re sick of giving people cutting boards as presents! Please note that this video was originally filmed in 2009.

The knife block is one of those practical projects that is a fun diversion from the things we normally make. This video not only covers the construction of the knife block, but also my technique for milling an extra wide board that is too wide for my jointer. This is one of those projects that really shows the need for honing BOTH your hand tool and power tool skills.

You can download the plan here. If you decide to make one, don’t be afraid to deviate from the plan. Change the dimensions, try a different wood species, and heck, maybe even change the shape and the joinery! The sky’s the limit!

Category: Projects


  1. Nice interesting project. Could be a good Christmas gift of sorts? The bambo sticks is a great idea. Thanks for sharing Marc.

  2. Dan November 14, 2012

    I’ve had mine flat-end up for years, and it’s not too difficult. Also, if you don’t want the bamboo permanently attached, you can fill the bottom inch or so of the box with salt, and stick the bamboo in that instead of epoxy.

  3. Ha!…I had it lined up to make a knife block using skewers much like this , I probably still will do at some point ;)

    Anyways nice projects as always Marc.

  4. Ash November 14, 2012

    I love the project and the detail in which you explain the steps! I’m thinking about making a few of these for Christmas gifts. I’ve just got one question. Was there a specific reason you chose epoxy to glue the sides instead of wood glue?

  5. Frank Matz November 14, 2012

    Thank you for great little project Marc. And some great ideas from the members as usual. I like Dan’s idea of using salt instead of epoxy. Probably wouldn’t use as many sticks and I would be able to clean it all out occasionally. I would worry about “something” growing down in the bottom eventually. Thanks again Marc for all you do.

    • Dan November 15, 2012

      Frank – You still have to pack the sticks pretty tight. I didn’t do a stick-per-inch measurement, but Mark’s looks similar to mine. I don’t know if salt is the only thing you can use (particularly if you plan to clean it out regularly, but I see sand and sugar thrown about a bit – both are bad ideas. Sand is hard to keep sterile, and will scratch up your knives, and sugar is just begging for ants and such.

  6. Kevin November 14, 2012

    One suggestion if you do find yourself in a situation where your glue-up is out of square and you can’t nudge it by hand, or it just doesn’t want to stay where you nudge it, so you have to use the diagonal clamp approach. It’s a good idea to have a couple of blocks of wood with a v notch in them to go between the clamps, and have one taped to the fixed end of the clamp you are going to use for this before you start the glue-up. It’s really easy to damage the corners of the piece with that clamp if you have to put any real pressure on it. Having it taped on means you don’t need three hands to put it in place, and doing it all ahead of time will save your ass if you are a real man and use yellow glue instead of being a sissy about all your glue-ups ;)

  7. I have done this joinery and finger joints on only using the bandsaw.
    With no stop, just using your eyes.

    There is many ways to do it, not right or wrong.

  8. Jay November 26, 2012

    Marc, I saw a commercially made version of this kind of skewer type knife block with a couple of tweaks. The first was they used plastic rods versus bamboo. I think the bamboo you used is just fine, but they had a second tweak that I think would be worth while including in future versions of the knife block. That is the rods were glued into a shallow box which friction fit into the bottom of the main box. It can then be taken out and cleaned or replaced more easily that way. Thoughts?


      Sounds like a good idea to me, if you can find a source for the plastic rods. I have a knife block that I use in my house and it also contains those plastic rods. Definitely works better than wood skewers.

  9. Steve December 6, 2012

    Hi from Australia. Your fame has certainly made it ‘Down Under’! I stumbled across your videos and web site several months ago and have had my interest in woodworking rekindled. Built some projects years ago- coffee tables, dining suite, wall unit etc. due to life’s ‘curve balls’ at 53 I’m having to start again. Welcome to Nicole and keep it up, I love what you do and can’t wait to make some sawdust again! Regards, Steve Gray.

  10. Love your work as always, have a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

  11. John December 6, 2012

    That’s a nice little project that I can do in my micro shop, I am not kidding 10×10 in the basement. I also have a ton of knives ( retired Chef ) so I can make this any size and make it custom for my kitchen. FYI this sucks LOL.

  12. Brent Bowden December 6, 2012

    I will definitely be giving these this Christmas.

  13. Cordale December 6, 2012

    great project mark never wood have thought to use those sticks for anything in the shop might give this project a whirl

  14. Eric Stammers December 7, 2012

    Great project. so simple, yet effective. I must try this one.


  15. Ian Witherington December 7, 2012

    nice package

  16. John Davidson December 7, 2012

    Cool. Were there sparks coming off the jigsaw blade while cutting the fingers?

  17. J.P. December 9, 2012

    Great project and you’re an excellent teacher. I wonder though if it would have been simpler to add the skewers first and easily lined up before the bottom and then add the bottom glue and end cap. The only thing I can think of is that you might use thicker glue.

  18. I built one of these this summer from walnut. Only change I made was I kept the finger flush. Only a few of our cheap serrated knives catch in the cut end of the skewers.

  19. Gary Burnett December 10, 2012

    That’s a nice little project that I can do in my shop.

  20. Patrick Quebedeaux December 11, 2012

    What kind of wood did you use? I only have access to the big box stores and they only have poplar, red oak, cedar and pine. What is recommended?


  21. JT Speelman December 11, 2012

    My wife and I decided to make our gifts for each other this Christmas. I’ve purchased 12 packs of 100 skewers for $12.00 and I get scrap cuttings from a local lumber yard for free. This is the perfect budget friendly gift that will look like it worth more than $20.00. Thanks for posting it Marc. Love watching your stuff!

  22. Matt5ash December 14, 2012

    Neat project … lets see … in the kitchen where happy cooking is happening there’s bound to be some little mess once now and then. What about clean up ?? I would suppose that this project isn’t really dishwasher save ?? Any thoughts ??

  23. Andrew December 15, 2012

    Great project! Definitely going on my to-do list.

  24. Vonro December 16, 2012

    the bamboo skewer thing…… that’s got my brain workin overtime now…I even have some curly & burl maple to play with….

  25. Jeff McFadden December 18, 2012

    I made a couple of these and they turned out really cool. Just thought I would share a tip for those of you who might try it. I used my scroll saw to cut the bamboo. Just wrapped it in painters tape in a couple of places and knocked it out in no time flat. Just make sure to tape over the area your going to cut. I can only imagine the pain of having to cut all of those by hand.

  26. Javier Petrelli December 19, 2012

    Very impresive! i never had see one of those! i’m thinking making a regular knife stand with a cow shape to give it to a cousing of mine who is crazy adicted to all the cow shape things! again sorry for my bad english! greetings from Venezuela!

  27. Fred Taub December 20, 2012

    I like this project but you may have the skewers packed too densely. I suggest making a jig for the skewer glue-up, hovering over to allow a few 1/8″ dowel rods allow some spacing while not touching the bottom, thus creating some space for knife blades in the box while not packing it so tight that you scratch or dull blades.

  28. What type of wood filler did you use and from where can it be purchased?

  29. Bogdan Vinatoru December 28, 2012

    Great simple project, i like it.

  30. Wendy Winter December 31, 2012

    Nice simple project that I will likely do to practice up on my joinery. Thanks for posting.

  31. Gary January 6, 2013

    I just left the bamboo sticks loose in the version I made.
    That way they could move around and self-adjust as needed and if I add/remove knives in the future, I can just change how many are in there. It is also easy to replace damaged sticks (none yet in two years).
    I only have the sticks come up occasionally and they are easy to push back in.

  32. I’m loving the Murloco’s T! Great Job!

  33. Grantman February 7, 2013

    Regarding plastic skewers, when I was a kid, we had a game called ‘pick-up sticks.’ I wonder if you could find out if they’re still made, contact the manufacturer, and see if they’d sell some in bulk? Or if, say, Milton Bradley (or whoever), doesn’t make them themselves, you might find in The Thomas Register (or similar company) a plastics firm to buy them from.

    I showed this to my wife, but she hates clutter, so I can’t leave it on the counter nor suspend it under the upper cabinets. I’ve been thinking of making a shallow one that will fit inside a kitchen drawer that I can drop the knives into, kind of like a wooden ‘inbox’ that one would see in an office somewhere. Shallow front end for the handles to stick out of and 2″ – 3″ deep for the 8″ chef’s knife. Would there be enough play between the skewers to hold the knives? Time will tell.

    Thanks, Marc

  34. Jeremy Crawford September 29, 2013

    What filler do you use? The 404?

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