Apparently most master knifemakers don’t cook, except possibly over campfires and an occasional barbeque grill. Bob Kramer is the exception — the only one of 122 Master Bladesmiths certified by the American Bladesmith Society who also has experience as a professional chef.
Bob Kramer developed an interest in knives and knife making while working as a prep cook. Moving quickly from job to job in the 1980s, Kramer noticed that almost none of the cooks he met knew much about the knives they worked with. A quest to learn how to properly sharpen a knife eventually brought him to Columbus Cutlery in San Francisco and a traditional Italian tradesman who showed him the correct techniques. While establishing his own truck-based sharpening service in Seattle, Washington, Kramer spotted an ad for a two-week American Bladesmith Society blacksmithing course in Washington, Arkansas. Improving his skills later on a homemade forge in Seattle, Kramer earned his Master’s certificate from ABS after only four years of hard work. Kramer’s masterpiece Bowie knife cut rope, chopped a 2×4 in half twice, and then shaved hair from his arm — before surviving a 90-degree bend in a vise without breaking. Kramer’s professionalism and ability to create knives of exceptional quality brought him offers to partner with major firms. Bob Kramer designed knife lines for such well-known outlets as Sur La Table and the venerable Solingen, Germany manufacturer Zwilling J.A. Henckels.
Kai USA currently manufactures the knives Bob Kramer designed for Sur La Table under the Shun brand name at the company’s production facilities in Japan. Bob Kramer knives usually exhibit an edge hardness between the typical American or European standard and the harder Asian knife blade. This gives Kramer knives better ability to hold an edge but still stand up to the forceful manner in which many Americans actually use knives. Slightly softer steel than in high-end Japanese cutlery also allows sharpening with Western sharpening systems. The product line developed for Henckels features blades of 52100 carbon steel, the same high-performance metal used in Kramer’s custom-made chef’s knives. While not stain-free, the new Kramer Carbon knives require little extra care and out-perform high carbon stainless steel.
Read all of our Bob Kramer knife reviews below: