Background: I was looking for a simple knife rack for my kitchen and decided a magnet was the best option for me. Although Ikea has a great product in the GRUNDTAL magnet, I couldn’t help but imagine how cool it would be to add some wood grain to the design, so I took a stab at it.
The Ikea GRUNDTAL magnet is normally attached to the wall (or whatever you want to mount it to), by screwing the included thin metal strip to the mounting surface, then attaching the magnet to the strip by simply snapping it over the strip. The GRUNDTAL knife rack has very strong magnets facing both directions, so there are magnets facing both inwards to the wall to hold the rack onto the mounting strip, and outwards to hold the knives to the rack with their strong magnetic pull.
My hack simply adds a piece of wood between the mounting surface (in my case, the kitchen wall), and the GRUNDTAL magnet. So in a nutshell, I mounted the GRUNDTAL magnet to a piece of wood, then mounted the piece of wood to my kitchen wall. Confused yet? Pictures should help.
Using a table saw I cut 1/2″ deep grooves 1 + 1/2″ up one side of a section of wood board, carving out an edge for the magnet to be recessed into the wood. My goal was to have the magnet face level with the wood face so that knives and utensils placed on the magnet would lie flush across the wood and steel magnet surface.
The GRUNDTAL magnet must be mounted flush to the surface of the wood block, so make sure the space you cut out for the magnet is a little larger than the actual magnet, to be sure the edge of the magnet doesn’t slip over the edge of the wood, which could compromise the strength and stability of the rack. You can see I left between 1/16″ to 1/8″ of extra space on all sides of the metal part.
The dimensions I used are:
Length: 15 + 3/4″
Width: 3 + 1/4″
Thickness (how far it sets off the wall): 1″
Length: just under 15 + 3/4″
Width: 1 + 3/8″
As you can see, my final product had the magnet sitting a little higher than the wood face, which ended up being fine. As long as the magnet sits higher than the wood, and not the other way around, the rack will function just fine.
I cleaned up the groove with a chisel and sandpaper, then used a palm sander to soften the corners and edges of the wood. I stepped down sandpaper grits as I sanded (80, 120, 220, 320) to get the smoothest surface. As long as you don’t grind the wood edges down so much that the magnet edge could slip off the wood, then you’re fine. I left a good 1/8″ or so of margin to be safe.
Once I was happy with the shape and smoothness of the wood block, I cleaned the dust off with a tack cloth to remove the fine wood dust and applied 2 or 3 coats of mineral oil with a clean cloth, to protect the wood and bring out the grain. I used mineral oil (the same stuff used to condition cutting boards) because I wanted to be sure the rack stayed food safe and I didn’t want to use a heavy-duty sealant that could mask the beauty of the natural wood. It may require additional coats of oil as the months and years go by, but that’s okay by me.
Mounting the rack was by far the trickiest bit. I attached the mounting strip onto the wood block to make sure the magnet fit and everything lined up. Then I took it apart and drilled holes in the metal strip, so that the head of the screws mounting the wood block to the wall didn’t stick up and interfere with the magnet fitting tightly to the mounting strip. I didn’t want to take any chances on the rack coming off the wall, so I used a stud finder to locate studs in the wall, drilled pilot holes into the studs, and used long screws to make sure it wasn’t going anywhere.
The left screw is a short one attaching the mounting strip to the wood block, the right one is a long screw attaching the wood block to the wall and stud.
One advantage of using this mounting method is I had the entire length of the wood block to choose from when drilling holes for mounting it to the wall. I chose attach points that lined up with the wall studs. The original mounting instructions only allow you to drill holes at the preset dimensions, which could be frustrating if you need to hit a stud or are working in tight spaces.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the final product, and I hope you try it out if you like the design.