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Chef Blog

What Makes a Good Knife Block Set?

25 Oct 2021 0 Comments

Knife blocks are some of the most beautiful things you can put in your kitchen. A well-chosen knife block makes an aesthetic statement, reinforcing the idea that your kitchen is used for cooking delicious meals on the regular. Modern knife blocks feature timeless hardwood motifs and showcase beautiful handles with polished accents, bold lines, and many unique shapes.

More importantly, knife blocks serve as a gateway to easy food prep. Having a plethora of high-quality knives at your fingertips makes any edge-based step in your cooking easier. Not only are you armed with classics like chef's knives, but you've also got specialized options like paring knives, filleting knives, and santoku blades available when you want them. This makes many of the intricate, complex steps of fun recipes a lot easier. You'll have the right tool for the job. 

When you want a knife block, you should think about your choice carefully. Knife blocks are NOT created equally, and they can get pretty pricey pretty fast. Here are some of the things you'll want to consider when choosing the best knife block set for your kitchen.


The Negatives of a Bad Knife Block Set

These days, almost every knife manufacturer is rushing to put out a cheap wooden block that's overstuffed with unnecessary blades. Spending money on these blocks can be a trap, as you'll wind up with low-quality blades, knives you don't use, and an unattractive focal point for your kitchen counter.

The most challenging downside to overcome in a bad knife block set is the block itself. Even if you're not in love with the knives themselves, you can slowly switch out individual pieces for blades you prefer if you get a good block. Unfortunately, lousy knife block sets often have wooden blocks that are essentially made of stained, polished plywood. These can look good at first, but a bit of wear from water, abrasion, or an occasional accidental whack can reveal the unattractive wood underneath, forcing you to cover or replace the block.

The next problem arises from cost. Knife blocks are a good way for knife manufacturers to sell less popular knives at a moderate discount. When they start cramming every knife they can think of into a block. However, you'll quickly find yourself spending money on pieces you don't need. This can get very, very expensive when you're purchasing a quality knife block from a reputable manufacturer. While you might want features like high-quality steel and a full tang in your chef's knives, you don't necessarily need the same premium quality in every utility knife in your kitchen, nor does every chef need every knife. When you buy an extensive, fancy knife set, you can wind up spending half of the purchase cost on things extra-premium specialty knives. Some kitchens benefit from these additions. Yours might not.

Finally, knife blocks are expensive. If you're trying to decide between picking up one or two knives or a knife block, you might find yourself comparing cheap blocks with pricier single knives. A $40-$70 chef's knife will be much higher quality than the chef's knife you get with a $100 knife block unless there's some extra crazy clearance sale going on. This means that if you're on a budget, a knife block should not be something you prioritize until you get your essential knives sorted out.



The Positives of a Good Knife Block Set

A good knife block set, by contrast, is an excellent investment in the growth of your kitchen. A quality knife set will come with a durable, elegant wooden block, have the knives you need, and will come at a steep discount.

First, let's talk about the block. Wooden knife blocks (or blocks made from other materials) look nice and present an excellent way for you to keep your knives handy. When you choose a knife set with a solid hardwood block or a composite block with good construction, you get a central display piece for your kitchen that's both useful and ornamental. Many home chefs will purchase sets with empty holes and fill them later or augment their knife block with a customized selection of knives from different brands. The key here is to get something that looks good to you, something that'll last, and something with enough room for the knives you use often.

There's definitely something to be said for having the correct tool for the job. While you can get away with performing most kitchen tasks with an all-purpose chef's knife, you'll be a lot faster, more accurate, and more comfortable when you use a knife that's specialized in the type of work you're doing. Paring knives are an absolute godsend for working with a fruit or making precise small cuts, while a heavy cleaver is ideal for cutting big sections of meat and dealing with bones. In some cases, having the knife for the job can inspire a new world of cooking: having a bread knife, for example, can prompt you to explore new endeavors in delicious home baking.

Finally, knife blocks tend to be a lot cheaper than buying their components individually. Most manufacturers offer steep discounts on their blocks. Purchasing all of the knives individually can be twice the cost of the block set -- or more! The block itself is often effectively free due to these discounts. This means you get a lot more bang for your buck by choosing a block set, especially if you want to round out your knife selection with a variety of different styles and options from the same brand.


What to Look for In a Knife Block Set

With that in mind, here are the most critical factors to look for in a kitchen knife set with a wooden block.


Knife Quality

When you purchase a knife block set, it's vital to get knives that you want to use. This means that every blade you don't plan to replace immediately should meet the same standards that you'd apply for an individual knife purpose. Look for high-quality steel that matches each knife's purpose, ergonomic handles, and good weight and balance. If you don't want to use the knives, don't buy the set!



Both the block and the knives within should be elegant. A knife block can have a significant impact on the visual appearance of your kitchen, so think a bit about what will go with the decor and colors that you've got already. Most knife blocks are tastefully neutral, so they'll look good in most kitchens, but you'll still want to go with a type of wood and handle design that you enjoy. You're the final judge here, so choose a set that sparks joy in your aesthetic preferences.


Block Quality

The quality of the block itself can get overlooked by many chefs, but it's definitely something you should consider. What does it look like? What is it made out of? Will it fit on your countertop? The answers to these questions can tell you a lot about who a knife block set is designed for. Try to pick a block that you'll be happy with for many years -- or be willing to upgrade or replace the block itself with the money you save by buying a bunch of quality knives in a set.



One of the biggest advantages of a knife block set is that you're getting a bulk discount on great quality knives. If this doesn't seem like it's the case, think twice before buying the set! Look for options where you get a discount on buying the complete set versus just buying the knives you want individually. Be sure to give the set a few extra points for things like honing steels, kitchen shears, and other accessories that you'll get a lot of use out of. The block should offer a healthy price advantage over buying the components individually. If it doesn't, consider other options.



Finally, poke around for a guarantee or warranty on the blocks you're considering. A reputable knife maker will offer a generous warranty of 6 months or more, covering you from expensive shipping errors or the occasional manufacturing kerfuffle. Even the best brands will occasionally produce a knife or a block with a defect that slips past quality assurance. By choosing a set with a good warranty, you can ensure that your investment in a knife block remains safe for many months after your initial purchase.


Best Picks

Steak Knife Block Set



If you're looking for a kitchen or table block that adds both functionality and elegance to your kitchen, look no further than this 6-piece steak knife set. Priced incredibly affordably, this block makes an excellent addition to any household planning to enjoy quality meals at the table. The pakkawood-handled steak knives are made from quality German steel, adding flair and sharpness to your silverware options.

While this block doesn't offer a lot in cooking knives or expansion options, it's perfect for anyone who has a block already or someone more focused on the dining experience. It's an absolute steal, considering the quality of the materials and craftsmanship involved.


11-Piece Kitchen Knife Block Set



For the budget-conscious chef, this set adds a set of high-quality kitchen knives to the mix. It features an 8" iMarku chef's knife, a cleaver, a bread knife, kitchen shears, honing steel, a knife block, and 4 4.5" steak knives. A matching cutting board helps round out the aesthetic and gives you an additional work surface that's perfectly sized for the knives in this set.

This knife block is a bit light on the utility knives, but it's got all of the elegance and quality you'd expect from a high-end knife block. All knives are made from carefully chosen high-carbon steels, making them easy to sharpen and great at retaining razor-sharp edges. Full tangs and pakkawood handles ensure that every knife is comfortable and well balanced, while the included honing steel makes it easy to maintain the edges between sharpening sessions. While you don't get a set of 6 steak knives, that's perfect for smaller households, as you're not paying for extra silverware you won't use very often.

Overall, this block is perfect for anyone who wants a chef's knife with a set of other useful, matching kitchen tools. While it's ideal for smaller households beginning their culinary journey, it'll fit in perfectly in just about every kitchen.


15-Piece Silver Knife Block Set



If you're after an inexpensive, elegant knife set with a more modern design, this 15-piece iMarku knife block will have everything you want. The beautiful block comes stuffed with a myriad of helpful kitchen utility knives, including a santoku knife, a slicer, a boning knife, a paring knife, and kitchen scissors. Included steak knives allow you to entertain with style, while the built-in knife sharpener helps you to keep all of your blades sharp and ready for use.

The knives in this set feature a bright, utilitarian silver look that's sure to make your kitchen pop. The blades are made from a type of stainless steel that's especially forgiving for beginner chefs, making it perfect for anyone who's looking for their first knife set. They're not necessarily as easy to sharpen with a whetstone as a more expensive knife set (like the ones above and below), but they're perfect when combined with the sharpening apparatus that's built into this set's block.

For anyone who wants a set of quality, forgiving beginner knives, this 15-piece iMarku set is ideal. If you want something with fancier knives, however, check out the selection below instead.


16-Piece Knife Block Set



This 16-piece iMarku Japanese knife set is a great pickup for someone who wants a blend of quality and elegance without spending a fortune. The Japanese-style cooking knives are made from high-carbon German steel that's carefully formulated to hold its razor-sharp edge easily. Unlike the set above, you'll want to sharpen these knives by hand, either by picking up a sharpening kit yourself or by taking them to a local knife expert. With proper care, they'll stay in your kitchen for many, many years.

The selection of knives with this block is excellent to round out a kitchen. It's got a chef's knife, a slicer, a santoku knife, a smaller chef's knife, a utility knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife. This ensures that your household will have access to the right knife for virtually every task in the kitchen. A honing steel will help the edges last longer, while a set of steak knives (with a removable block of their own) will let you entertain with elegance.

Whether you're moving into a new house, you want to purchase a gift for your favorite chef, or you just want to treat yourself to a nice set of knives, this 16-piece knife block from iMarku offers excellent value for money. The beautiful block and high-quality blades make it an excellent addition to any kitchen.


Frequently Asked Questions


How do I care for my knife block? 

Most wooden knife blocks enjoy being oiled occasionally. Take a food-safe mineral oil and rub it into the block (or the handles of your knives) with a soft cloth, then wipe away any oil that remains. Try to do this every couple of months to keep your block and knives looking great.


What type of steel should I look for in my knife block?

In general, high-carbon steel is great for people who like to sharpen knives, while stainless is perfect for people who don't. The softer the steel, the easier it is to sharpen, and the harder the blade is to damage.


How often should I sharpen my knives?

A good knife block can go for 9 to 12 months before it requires any sharpening in a typical kitchen. The exact amount of time between sharpening sessions will vary based on your knives and your use patterns. Try to stay ahead of the curve here -- a dull knife is more likely to cause an injury than a sharp one.

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