BLADE GUARDS - The ideal way to store knives is in a purpose-designed block, knife roll or magnetic rack; but if they have to be stored in a cupboard drawer, or need to be transported from place to place, then individual blade guards are available for some knife ranges. The soft plastic sheaths have magnetic inserts which keep the guards securely on the blade, protecting the edge from damage and the user from accidental injury.
CERAMIC SHARPENERS - These may be in the form of a long and usually cylindrical sharpening rod or a wheel or pair of wheels, along which the blade is drawn or as a fl at whetstone. The ceramic material may be of different degrees of coarseness or fineness to perform different tasks. Many roller sharpeners featuring ceramic wheels have two or more wheels of different grit and whetstones may be composed of two sides of different grit. Ceramic sharpeners are particularly recommended in the case of knives with blades, which are hardened to a high level and for which metal sharpeners are not suitable.
CUTTING BOARDS - These come in a huge range of shapes, sizes, thicknesses and materials – most popularly wood and polyethylene, but also glass, marble and steel, and now bamboo. Types of wooden boards are themselves numerous, available in many types of wood. Endgrain wooden cutting boards are the most durable, with a much harder surface. Wood has the advantage of being a soft material and is therefore less likely than other materials to blunt knives. It is also self-healing, in that small cuts close up, and wooden board knife manufacturers argue that for this reason it is also more hygienic than polyethylene. However, polyethylene boards can withstand more rigorous scrubbing with chemical cleaners. Some boards come in colour-coded sets so that each board can be used exclusively for a different type of preparation, ie, fish, meat or vegetables, for reasons of hygiene. Glass, marble and steel are also easy to keep clean but will easily blunt or damage knives. Bamboo is a relatively new cutting board material. One of its main selling points is that, being a grass rather than a wood, it is sustainable and therefore environmentally friendly. However, the material resembles wood in that it is rigid and stable.
DIAMOND SHARPENER - A normal steel sharpener cannot be used on knives with blades which are hardened to a high degree, or ceramic knives which require specialist sharpening with a diamond sharpener or using a professional service. One disadvantage of diamond sharpeners, however, is that the diamond powder coating will eventually wear off the sharpener after prolonged use.
KNIFE BLOCKS - Knife blocks come in a wide variety of shapes and materials, and perform the job of keeping knives all in one place on the worktop, storing the blades safely and preventing damage to the knives themselves. They typically incorporate a number of slots to hold different sizes of knife.
KNIFE SHARPENERS - There is quite a variety of knife sharpeners on the market. A sharpening steel is a long, straight rod with an abrasive surface against which the knife is drawn, but some people find that it is not the easiest tool to use. Alternatives include a worktop sharpener with two slots, the knife being drawn through each in turn; a similar worktop tool with one slot containing crossed steels, which is designed to replicate the action of the sharpening steel; and a whetstone, a fine-grained block of stone. There are also small hand-held sharpeners, as well as electric models. Effective sharpening requires a harder material than that which is being sharpened. For this reason, standard sharpeners do not work on ceramic blades, which require diamond sharpeners.
MAGNETIC RACKS - An alternative to a knife block, a magnetic rack uses a magnetic strip with which to hold the knives in place. It can be mounted on the wall or inside a kitchen cabinet for greater safety.
SHARPENING STEEL - A long, straight tool made from high carbon steel, which, being harder than that used for knife blades, can be used for sharpening knives. They are available with a variety of groove thicknesses, from fine to coarse.
WHETSTONE - A block of stone or slate used for to sharpen kitchen knives and other tools.