Brilliance Gone Bad
Last March, I departed Wellton, Arizona with what I hoped was a practical way to keep sharp kitchen knives protected, but handy. There are no reasonable (or safe) wall options for magnetic bars in the Four Wheel (unless you consider installation to the inside of a cabinet door safe), and no storage space for massive butcher block sheaths.
I decided to go with individual blade sheaths, partially in order to keep my options open for which knives to bring along on tour, and which to leave behind in the TT. In the hardware store I once worked at, they offered a knife-sharpening service, and card stock sleeves were used to safely store and handle the finished knives. Oh, that I had a half-dozen of those! There are all sorts of DIY sleeves on the Internet of course, based on packaging tape over folded strips from manila folders, or corrugated cardboard and duct tape. Or whatever.
But a more durable option is the Edge-Mag, a long, hinged, blade wallet with walls of what I’ll call magnetized rubber. This is the stuff stocked in better hardware stores that is promoted as a handy way to hold lightweight metal objects to flat surfaces. Unlike real magnets in long wood or plastic wall-mount knife-racks, these magnetized rubber strips are weak and of very limited utility. But, when asked to cling to a sharp, flat knife blade without having to support the knife’s weight, they are perfect. With two strips durably hinged at the center, these blade wallets are of just the right character to hold and protect a blade of nearly any size and configuration securely, but not so possessively that removal becomes an issue.
I ordered a couple of sizes of the “Victorinox Edge-Mag” and “Forschner Edge-Mag by Victorinox” before taking off in March of last year, and they worked great in practice. I had read some product reviews complaining of a tendency to rust blades, but figured that these folks had probably slapped still-moist blades into these sheaths. I’d need to be careful to dry my knives carefully before storing them away, since the rubber is indeed infused with iron particles. It’s hard to describe how convenient these Edge-Mags are to use, and how well they serve as a compact, safe and mutually protective way to toss kitchen cutlery in a drawer for travel.
Trouble is, unpacking the truck camper after some nine months of unplanned touring through medical facilities in the upper Midwest showed some problems. One old cook’s knife (my fav), had begun to rust along the spine, opposite the cutting edge, with most of the rust along the magnetic sheet rather than the blade. It took some work with steel wool to get it off that blade, though some discoloration remains as part of its carbon steel “patina”. Another blade, a stainless steel serrated bread knife, was deeply pitted and glued in by rust, making it more difficult to peel the Edge-Mag off it. That now looks unstained, but the areas of pitting are obvious, up close. A common stainless paring knife that had seen more action the first couple of months was still pristine.
I’m not sure just how to rant and whine. I knew the issues and always wiped down the blades before sheathing them. I would assume that I didn’t do a complete enough job of drying them, except that the worst victim, the bread knife, never sees water. At any rate, I’m not that thrilled with anything else I’m seeing online, so I voted to experiment a bit for a year. I stuck a layer of thin clear packaging tape over the two interior walls of each wallet, figuring that the metal-free plastic surface shouldn’t provoke a repeat. The plastic is thin enough that blade retention is unaffected. Some plastics tend to disintegrate from contact with rust, so there are no guarantees here. I’ve got two pristine wallets and two rust-tainted ones, so we’ll see what happens over the course of a year. In the meantime, I’m saying that the Edge-Mags are a joy to use, but are also capable of scarring your knife blades if they are used as they are. Your blades need to be isolated, however slightly, from direct contact with the magnetic surfaces.
We have a mag strip attached to inside a cupboard door. Works.
Thanks, Rob. I think that would work for me too, on a high cabinet. All I have is low ones though, and the potential safety issue of squatting down and reaching way in next to a rack of very sharp blades makes me feel it’s not for me.
Go to TheBoatGalley.com and check out the blade safes they recommend. I used those in my van and they worked well if being harder to open is not a problem.
Thanks, Linda! I noticed those on the web and wondered about real-world use. I also bookmarked that website, as it seems like very useful info for a drier voyage, and it’s very well written!
Yup. I learned a lot from that site.
Doug, you might also consider that you haven’t found the right mag strip yet. The one I bought about 10 years ago has been holding knives without incident against the wall above my stove. I did have a little trouble with heavy objects, like ladles and big spoons, but never knives unless I put them right at the end. The knives would sometimes move around very slightly, and could vibrate off the strip if placed within a few centimeters of the end. But they never just let go, and I have hauled this trailer over some of the roughest jeep roads in Colorado. Items have bounced out of baskets elsewhere, but the knives stay put. Occasionally I have to straighten them.
I wish I could give you the brand name, but it has been too long, and I don’t even remember where I got it. I just went out to look and there is no label on the thing. It consists of a plastic strip about 24 x 2 inches that mounts on the wall with screws. The magnets are two parallel ridges about an inch apart. They are quite powerful. You can feel them start to pull the knife in from about two inches out. One thing that probably helps is that I line the knives up point down, and rest the knife handle on the upper magnet, so the weight is actually borne by the plastic.
It looks a lot like this one, only mine is black:
I’ve had them and would need a short version, but for me it’s a matter of my flopping around on the floor trying to reach in deep beside an open door holding unshielded knife blades. Sooner or later, I’d get sliced and it wouldn’t be pretty. Thank you, though. The “right one” would more resemble a tall flat mountable butcher block holding the blades in a position similar to a magnetic strip.
You mean like this?
For the basic concept, yes! In execution, no.
Take the first (cheap) suggestion, attach a piece of Lexan to the front of it using slightly longer mounting screws or superglue, and you’re done. Though I am thinking more of mounting to a wall than the inside of a thin door.
This whole business of wrapping and unwrapping knives all the time seems way too finicky and troublesome to me. I just want the things at hand without continuing fuss. But to each his own.
I remember watching the movie “Chef”, and a scene where Jon Favreau’s character unrolled a leather-like layout containing his knives. Rolled up and tied when not in use. I don’t know if it was just for show or a real thing. But it appealed to my mobile senses.
Maybe something fairly similar to this one?
That’s one of my favorite films! They are called a chef’s knife roll, and many chefs use them when knives are a personal item that stays with them. Definitely not for show. No one touches those knives but them, since a borrowed knife is often a misused knife, and the kitchen’s knives are commonly in need of attention. Odds are that just any knife will not feel quite right in the hand, too. A knife roll is very nice, if you have the counter/table space to deal with it, and a deep drawer or a cabinet where it can stay handy and relatively unmolested by other items during travel. It would be primo if you cook outside with a decent table surface available! There are rolls and flat cases in leather, canvas, Nylon, etc.