I need to make a carry box for some chefs knives (and a mandolin, but
that is more straight forward). It
(a) do not have too look nice (but is a plus if they do)
(b) does have to hadle being stored in moving cars, stacked in
(c) need to -- as far as possible -- keep the edges from
(d) have carry handles
(e) contain 2 big Sabatier chefs knives, 2 long narrow bladed
knives, two japanese style choppers and 2 smaller knives. And
perhaps a steel or two as well.
(f) perfect is if it somehow transmogrifies into a stand of some
sort when opened.
My thoughts have been towards birch plywood, with two trays and hidden
magnets to keep the blades from moving around in their compartments.
The trays could then be used to keep track of them in the kitchen.
But is there better ways? Would it be sane to make some sort of knife
block and then a carry box for it (conveninent on site)?
 I don't want to do super fitted compartments in case the
Listen to the fool's reproach! It is a kingly title!
I did a google search for "chef cutlery transport case". it returned a
bunch of interesting things, most of which look like softside cases,
but a few were hard cases. some good ideas might be found that way...
Assuming all of the blades are about the same thickness, you may want
to explore a construction where they lay on a couple of wooden strips
covered with 1/2" or so of soft rubber. Then there are identical
strips on the cover of the box so that when it is closed up the blades
are "pressed" between two rubber-covered stips and should be immovable
without the edges rubbing against anything.
Lee Valley carries a detail chisel set created by Yeung Chan, and the case
he designed for it. Check that case for inspiration.
The construction of the case was, I believe, published somewhere, perhaps
FWW, or in one of the 'Toolbox' books. Where, however, escapes my tired
mind this evening...
Very talented designer, he is. You ought to see the block plane he builds,
in VERY limited quantities, and only for gifts to close friends.
As a former Chef for many, many years . . . The best thing you can do (IMHO)
get a metal tool chest with a locking latch and tray for you little tools.
Get an old towel and cut it into squares and wrap you blades with the towels
and layer them into you tool box. I know what you are thinking but:
- this will protect your knifes against damage, other people (lock), and is
- this will protect your blades edges.
- allow for flexibility
- and last for many years.
My blades where kept extremely sharp and I only used the best knifes, I
wouldn't do it any other way after those years in the kitchen. I still have
them 15 years later and they still serve me well. I have issues with the
wraps, but they have served many well. Wooden tool box . . . you will have
problems in the future for many reasons.
17 years in the hospitality industry and now working with wood. Ice carver
and vegetable carver with a dash of competition on the side. Loose the
mandolin and learn to cut without it, rarely do you really need one . . . of
course they do come in handy occasionally.
Worth thinking about. What do/did you do with them "on site"? Just place
them on a counter? My thinking with the box was to both have a transport
case and a handy way to store them while I work. Lockability is a minor
issue in the environments I cook in.
My current thoughts were running towards an attache style toolbox, with
strong magnets (embedded in wood) to hold the blades still (in separate
spaces), cutouts for handles, and some sort of locking system to keep
the knives from working loose in transport (e.g. a wooden bar across the
blades). A bit like french fitting, but with generic spaces and
hidden magnets. Then the opened case could either be placed lying down
flat on the counter, or standing up to save space.
The mandolin is excellent for quickly processing large amounts of
vegetables. Not a substitute for a knife.
 20-30 lb of onions for stews, etc
Practise random acts of intelligence and senseless acts of self-control.
For myself, an 18" metal tool box ended up being "my" best option. Knife
selection will change, your favorites will change, the style of cooking and
methods will change . . . everything changes. Your tool box and two or
three knifes will be your constants.
The case always stayed close by me, generally on a shelf below my station
(where ever I may set up at) and only my 10" and 12" stayed on the station
with the edge tucked under the edge of the cutting board and towel (damp
towel to keep board from sliding), my paring knife was in a sleeve in my
breast pocket. All other tools were close by if needed while the specialty
tools that were rarely used where in my office or locker. Even in a hotel
with lots of space, the case was never on the table after I retrieved what I
needed. Numerous knifes were collected over the years, but only the three
mentioned where primarily used (meat cutting was a different story). *
NOTE -- the knifes where actually 1"+ shorter than stated, they were dropped
years back and the tips bent. You cannot bend back to shape stainless steel
knifes . . . they break. Several beers on a coarse wet stone reshaped them
into custom size knifes that are one of a kind.
My knifes where locked up when I was not around so as not to be borrowed and
left somewhere that I would have to go and find them, and to keep greasy
hands off my handles . . . not so much as to be stolen.
Over the years I thought about doing the same thing, it sure would be a
great way to show off your collection and keep everything close by just as a
good station should be--organized and set up for production. In the long
run, it may just slow you down (my opinion). Space is king! Besides,
knifes are like a good pair of jeans, you have your favorites that over the
years just seem to fit best and you always grab that pair first . . . unless
they are in the hamper.
several thoughts below-
I would use the mandolin if I needed very fine juliene strips of color from
a zuc or crooked yellow squash and not the meat of the vegetable, 1/16 thick
as well as wide for decoration and color to sprinkle on top of the ?????
Several cases of vegetables to prep would bring out the mandolin.
Small, medium, or large onion . . . 8 seconds or less it would be small,
medium, or large diced and all the same size and shape--technique rules and
only one hand would ever get dirty or wet--safer. Every morning I would
lighty fine tune my knifes, a mandolin requires a new blade set. This cost
forces you to use a dulling blade until it makes fiscal sense to replace it.
Besides, it was another tool that needed to be cleaned and stored.
18 dozen eggs cracked with no more that 1T of shell in the pot, time 1 min.
34 sec. I've won more beer with that bet over the years. A sack of onions,
minutes. Technique rules.
I am not knocking you, so please don't take it that way. I was very
passionate about my job as a Chef and took it very serious. As in so many
things in life, you find what works for you and stick with it until you find
another way that is better. It is only those who won't change because of
pride or whatever that never grow.
If you are head strong on the case, go to Hobby Lobby, etc. and purchase a
premade artist attache case (empty case with nothing inside). Give it a
couple of coats of protection and add your magnets and personalization to it
and see how you like it. The case might serve you well over the years, but
probaly won't last that long, but it could be a cheap way to see if you
still like the idea of a case vs a roll vs a tool box. Or, go to the Home
Depot and get a aluminum electronics type case and tweak it. This would be
favorable to the wood due to the wet environment and the consistent cleaning
and muck that will gravitate to it. Myself, steel and a slim design works
Let me know what you decide, I am interested.
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