While it may seem like an afterthought to many, properly storing your knives is imperative to their long time reliability.
Lack of proper storage can lead to corrosion and rust build-up - one for the biggest mistakes you can make in properly maintaining your knife.
In this article we will discuss some of the best storage methods to prevent knife damage, as well as some of the products that will help you keep your knife collection safe and organized.
Pocket Knife Storage
If you have a small pocket knife collection then storage does not seem all that hard, but as our collections grow storage can get pretty complicated.
Personally I currently have about 50 pocket knives in my collection - many of which are higher end knives - and the last thing I want to do is just throw them in a box or drawer and risk scratching up or damaging the handle scales.
This is where storage cases come into play. Cases allow us to keep the knives organized and protected. Let's take a look at some of the case options that are currently on the market.
Hard cases provide the best protection on the market, and are designed for long term storage and transportation solutions.
They are resistant to drops, keep out dust, and most reputable cases will keep out ambient moisture and water when closed properly.
These cases come in a variety of sizes, ranging from small cases that will hold a few knives all the way to larger cases that can hold 30 to 100 knives!
Pelican is a well-known name in the waterproof case industry, and they make so many sizes that you're sure to find something that will fit your needs.
All Pelican cases are water resistant, and they even have options that are entirely waterproof, which is a great option if you are worried about potential floods in your storage area or are spending time in the great outdoors.
Many of these cases come with “pluck foam,” which allows you to make individual slots for each of your knives. Some companies (Nalpak, for example) also make custom laser-cut high density foam inserts for these cases, saving you the time of having to use pluck foam, and are far more durable.
Nanuk is a Canadian company that makes cases similar to Pelican, and though their size variety is not as large as Pelican's, they offer quality cases with exceptional latches at a very competitive price.
Like other hard case companies, Nanuk offers pluck foam inserts, and I’ve seen a few custom foam options out there.
Hard Case Accessories
Hard cases definitely have their advantages, however they are not perfect. The same features that keep moisture out can also keep moisture in, and the foam itself can collect moisture.
KPL offers a few innovative solutions to prevent moisture buildup, reduce internal case moisture, and protect your knives long-term.
This handy little device is filled with silica gel that absorbs ambient moisture, and is sized just right to fit in a knife slot in your pluck or laser cut foam.
One of these is enough to protect your knives for up to a year, and is completely reusable by removing the silica and baking it. Once cooled it can be placed back into the container and used again.
Another simple solution to help prevent rust in your hard case, these simple plastic tabs emit a harmless rust preventive vapor and remain good for two years. I personally like to place these in the slots where I store my high carbon steel folding knives.
Soft cases provide less protection from the elements, but have advantages due to their size, weight, and packability.
They're often made from nylon or waxed canvas, and while they don’t bolster the massive storage options that large hard cases do, they are easier to transport and take less room in your pack, drawer, or closet.
PNWBUSHCRAFT offers a variety of outdoor goods with a rugged and vintage aesthetic, and their Maple Storage Roll is no exception!
The Maple has a total of 13 2” pockets, a single 1” pocket, and a single 2 ¾” pocket.
Made of high-grade waxed canvas and a leather cord to tie it securely, this case allows for a reasonable amount of protection in an easy to transport package. This is a great option for storing your knives or other small tools.
If you're looking for something with a bit more of a modern aesthetic, Vault Case offers a variety of options for you.
Vault makes more of a hybrid case, with a hard outer shell and zippered enclosure.
The interior of these cases is modular, allowing you to store your knives and small edc tools in a way that is totally customizable. They offer multiple sizes and security options, and are a great option for small collections or for transporting a handful of knives.
Fixed Blade Storage
Fixed blade storage is a bit more complicated, as even EDC-sized fixed blades are larger packages than compact folding knives.
Fixed blades do have sheaths, though these are not always the best choice for long term storage.
Kydex or plastic sheaths are typically acceptable for long term storage, but many knives - particularly larger outdoor knives - come with leather sheaths.
Leather sheaths provide a ton of protection from bumps and drops, but they also retain moisture which can contribute to rust especially when it comes to high carbon knives.
Fortunately, there are some solutions that will allow for long-term leather sheath storage. For more information for caring for your high carbon steel knives - check out this article
Waxes and Oils
Waxes and oils have long been a solution for keeping high carbon blades rust-free in their leather sheaths.
There are a ton of different products on the market, but we recommend KPL Camellia Oil. This oil has long been a favorite of chefs, as it is food-safe and exceptionally good at preventing rust. This will do a fine job protecting your kitchen and other high carbon steel knives.
KPL's Knife Shield is a knife cleaner and protectant that leaves behind a rust-preventing barrier on your blades.
This is my personal choice for protecting my knives that remain stored in their leather sheaths for an extended period of time. It goes on wet, but leaves a completely dry finish so I don’t have to contend with any messy oily residues.
After using your knife simply apply to the blade, wipe it down, and in 30 seconds you are ready to store your knife in its leather sheath again.
For more on how KPL Knife Shield works check out this article.
Some folks end up with a great deal of fixed blades, making storage options pretty hard to come by.
For a long time mine just ended up in hard cases without the pluck foam inserts. While this certainly works, it is not the best option for transportation or organization.
Thankfully, PNWBUSHCRAFT has two different options for us! The Alder and Birch Storage Rolls are the perfect storage options for transporting multiple fixed blades.
The Birch features 8 pockets that allow for both a knife and the leather sheath, and the Alder has 6 larger pockets for knives with sheaths that have ferro rod loops.
I hope these storage solutions help to keep your collections protected and organized!
As a thank you for reading this article, use code BLACKFLAG to get any of the great KPL products mentioned here, or any KPL product for 10% off!