Caring for your Magnetic Knife Rack Posted on 07 Dec 10:55
So you're the proud owner of one of our shiny Magnetic Knife Racks, you've mounted it on the wall and used it for a few weeks, only to discover the surface is changing with use! Fear not, this is the desired behaviour of the knife racks. With some basic care, the surface can be rejuvenated and slowly develop its own character over time. "Why should I care for my knife rack"? I hear you ask. well the good news is you don't have to, however it will look better if you do.
When developing a wooden product we use one of two options for surface treatment:
- Seal with a lacquer
- Oil Finish
A lacquer coating typically creates a hard protective shell around the timber, this can look fantastic and protects the timber from exposure to liquid and stains. We use this treatment on servingware products such as our plates and bowls and any delicate items which could be damaged by water. Unfortunately, lacquer is difficult to apply and maintain and cannot withstand heavy cutting or bumps.
Oil treatment protects the timber but also allows it to breath which assists with the timbers anti-bacterial properties. All our cutting boards and paddles are oil treated so the surface can be cut into and treated roughly. An oil treatment requires basic upkeep in order to look good and protect the product.
When developing our Magnetic Knife Racks we found that over time the surface would be treated like a chopping board with stray knife edges cutting into the surface. While a lacquer finish would look good for a while, we wanted the knife rack to look great for years. I also wanted the knife rack to be used to drip dry washed knives, a porous surface provided by an oiled timber will wick away moisture from the knife, something not possible with a sealed lacquer surface.
Below is an image of my Magnetic Knife Rack 550 in Beech from home. It's now about 6 months old and hasn't had any surface care or maintenance.
If you look closely you can see light rough patches along the surface, roughly in the shape of the knives which have been left to dry on the surface. These patches are marked with a blue #2 in the image below. If you're interested as to why the surface is roughening I recommend reading this post on oiling wooden surfaces.
You can also see several dark marks along the surface, highlighted in the above image as a red #1. These are marks left on the timber from knives over time. To fix these marks we'll need to wash the knife rack then re-oil it.
The first step is to remove any knives or utensils from the rack and scrub the rack with a gentle detergent. This can be done on the wall or you can remove the rack as I've done below. A word of caution regarding the surface cleaning, please don't be tempted to sand back the face of the knife rack, the rare earth magnets sit very close to the surface and can be exposed easily if the surface is sanded.
Wet the knife rack thoroughly and scrub along the whole length, focusing on any dark marks or blemishes. It's normal for small flakes of timber to scrub off with the first wash. Rinse the knife rack, towel dry, then air dry thoroughly before proceeding to the next step.
Once the rack is dry the surface should've lightened considerably due to the lack of surface oils. Let's apply some oil and replenish the surface. When oiling the knife rack it's important to choose a food safe oil, please check with the supplier if you're not sure. If you don't mind a slight yellowing effect I recommend raw linseed oil, it has a very long lifespan and is very durable once dry. Otherwise, if you'd like to keep the natural wood colour I'd recommend using coconut oil or mineral oil. These are non-drying oils so will need more regular application but are colour neutral.
I've recently been using a product called Kunos Countertop Oil by a German company called Livos. It's a mix of linseed oil, natural resin esters and a few other bit and pieces. I've found the finished surface is very durable with minimal colour tint. Apply the oil generously along the entire knife rack (back and front). Allow to sit for 20 minutes then buff off the excess oil. Reattach the rack to your wall and you're done. feel free to wipe down the knife rack anytime it looks dirty and re-oil whenever the surface has lightened or looks dry.
The finished knife rack is pictured above, overall a very nice finish, in my opinion better than new. Some very minor blemishes remain, these will build up over time and will add to the character of the rack. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.