How to Store, Sharpen, and Care for Your Knives, According to Chefs

We independently select these products – if you buy through one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices correct at time of publication.

I’m not a professional chef, but I am do love my wusthof knives that I received as a wedding present. Marriage wasn’t made to last, but so far the knives are.

I want to take care of my precious kitchen cutlery so that it lives up to its role as the most trusted and important tool in my kitchen. That’s why I asked professional chefs to tell me how they store their most popular knives.

Why you should avoid a butcher block

Don’t tell the Food Network star (top chef and Chopped) Joe Sasto that my knives came with a butcher block. “I can’t stress enough how much I dislike knife blocks and branded knife sets,” says the San Francisco Bay Area chef.

“The knife often dulls and bangs every time it is placed on and removed from the block, and the blocksets are often overpriced and of poor quality. Avoid them at all costs.” Noted. But what to replace the knife block with?

Storage option 1: Magnetic knife strip

Many professional chefs use a magnetic knife strip to display and store their tools of the trade. It also creates much-needed space for crowded or small kitchens. Top chef all stars Winner Melissa King, who has managed many Michelin-starred kitchens in San Francisco, says, “My favorite way of storing my knives at home is on a magnetic wall mount. It makes them easily accessible and prevents the blades from getting damaged in a drawer, but also makes for a beautiful display of your favorite knives and adds to the design of your kitchen.”

Two-time James Beard Award-winning baker and cookbook author Kristina Cho agrees. In fact, she posted a photo of her kitchen on Instagram, which features a pretty magnetic knife strip. “I love the design and craftsmanship of the knives and love displaying them in the kitchen. It’s also super accessible when I’m preparing food,” she explains.

Storage option 2: knife sheaths

Many chefs insist on storing their knives in special sheaths to protect the blades from wear and tear when not in use. King explains, “In a professional setting, I store my knives in wooden sheaths wrapped in a Japanese-style cloth knife roll to protect the edge of the blades.”

Once in cases, you can also store knives in drawers. Obviously, knives in drawers without the protection are both dangerous to your hands and destructive to the knives, which can be damaged if they hit each other unprotected.

These sheaths, called sayas, are often specially made and must be purchased with the knife. Gregory Gourdet, 2022 James Beard Award winner, chef and founder of Kann and Sousòl in Portland, Oregon, says he likes sturdy plastic blade guards from Chubo Knife Protectors.

He uses them “to keep knives safe and sharp when they’re at home in a knife roll or even in a drawer.” They come in a variety of sizes – small, medium, and large – to fit any knife including pairing, butcher, and utility knives.

pumpkin, a top chef Finalist, adds, “The soft felt inside the protector keeps knife blades shiny when not in use.”

The possibilities are endless. Blade guard can be made of high quality PVC plastic, which does not affect the knife blade and can withstand even very sharp knives. Others are leather for a softer look and more delicate blades.

Nothing says professionalism like a dull knife. That’s why many chefs have explained not only how to store their knives, but how to care for them so they stay sharp between uses.

Sasto says, “It’s important to understand the difference between sharpening and honing.” He recommends a ceramic honing stick “for daily blade maintenance and rebalancing.” But, he explains, “sharpening knives professionally on a whetstone is an acquired skill and takes time to learn.” You can have someone at a knife store or farmer’s market do the sharpening for you.

If you want your knives sharpened in the comfort of your own home, James Beard Award winner Pati Jinich is a Mexican chef and New York Times Best-selling author recommends’s universal knife sharpener.

Maintenance is also very important. Knives should not be put in the dishwasher and should always be stored dry, especially if stored in some type of sheath or drawer. The more you use your knives, the more maintenance they will require over time, but the type of knife also matters.

For example, Sasto says, “Japanese and Swedish steel tend to be lighter and softer, so you can get a finer, sharper edge, but they require more frequent maintenance. A knife made from German steel will be heavier and stronger, won’t get as sharp, but will require less maintenance.”

He also says that the cutting board you use can wear out a knife sooner. You won’t find him recommending Bamboo, for example. Bamboo is 19 percent harder than traditional maple, meaning it’s tougher on your knives too.

How do you store and care for your most used knives? Share your tips and tricks with us in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *