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How to Make a Knife Roll

About Knife Making
Illustration by Andrew DeWitt

A professional (or cultured amateur) chef carries her knives--her “instruments”--in a rolled case. So does a knife collector. Knife rolls are convenient for transportation, and they protect the knives from unnecessary wear and tear. Most commercially available knife rolls are of heavy cloth, such as canvas or rip-stop nylon. They are also simple in design and simple to make.

Select the fabric for your knife roll. You may opt for simple, heavy-duty duck canvas; leather; or upholstery-weight fabric. If you have no ideas, visit a fabric store and look for something that appeals to you. As a chef, this is like the case for your Stradivarius violin; it must suit you and your craft. Buy a yard of fabric.

Collect your essential knives--the ones you must have in your knife roll if you travel, or the knives you take to work every day. Lay them on your yard of fabric, approximately in the middle. Leave two inches between each knife.

Fold one end of your fabric to form a flap that covers the blades, such that every knife reveals at least some of its handle for easy removal. Mark where the fold is.

Fold the other end of the canvas to form a flap that covers the handles. The second flap should overlap the first by at least two inches. Mark this second fold.

Measure 2 1/2 inches on either side of the two outside knives. Draw a line at 2 1/2 inches that is perpendicular to the folded edges.

Remove the knives, and cut the fabric for your knife roll in a large rectangle. Pin the blade flap on either side, to form a pouch. Fold over the handle flap. Measure the dimensions of the knife roll when it is folded.

Cut a 1/2-inch long strip of fabric, or canvas, or leather, which is as long as the blade flap is wide. This will act as a rip-stop for the points of your knives. Pin or glue this strip into the fold of your blade flap.

Sew the handle end fold, 1/8 inch from the edge. Sew the pouch on all edges, 1/8 inch from the edge.

Replace your knives in the pouch formed by the blade flap, in the order that you want to store them. Use a ruler to push down the fabric between each knife, and draw a line on the flap, with a pencil or tailor’s chalk.

Stitch along each of those lines, leaving a half inch from the bottom of the blade flap. (This will allow the roll to fold more easily).

Attach a grommet to either the left or right side of the knife roll, halfway along the edge. Insert a leather boot lace or strong ribbon, which you will use to tie up your knife roll.

Things You'll Need:

  • Heavy-duty nylon or canvas or leather or upholstery fabric
  • Heavy shears
  • Heavy-duty thread
  • Sewing machine or stitching awl
  • Grommet(s)
  • Leather boot laces or long, strong ribbon


An old jacket, cushion or heavy curtain should provide ample material for a knife roll.

Add another few inches (and a couple of pouches) on the left and right to make room for knives that you will add to your collection.

A good knife roll should be washable; wash it in cold water, with gentle detergents, and let it air dry.

If you have sheaths or cases for your prized knives, sew the knife roll to accommodate the blades and their sheaths.

If you are a chef and have other instruments you always take with you (a whisk, a spatula), sew your roll to accommodate them as well.

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