Bob Kramer Carbon Steel Knives?

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I'm familiar with Henckels and Wusthofs and have never used a carbon steel knife before.

However, today at Sur La Table, I tried out the "Bob Kramer 8" Carbon Steel Chef's Knife by Zwilling" and it was amazing. It felt comfortable and easy to use (and also extremely sharp!).

I'm interested in getting one of these and wondered if you guys had thoughts on this knife?

Some additional questions:

1. What is the proper way to care for these carbon steel knives? I read about wiping the blade with a wet towel and then with a dry towel to prevent staining.

2. What kind of steel do I need to use? I was recommended two: the Bob Kramer Honing Steel and the Bob Kramer Ceramic Sharpening Steel. Don't know why the honing steel is so expensive though (It is special for this knife?).

Thanks!
 
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Ahahahaha, ha.

Bob, and Aton Brown for that matter, know very well that the knives they push should never see a grooved metal steel, yet Bob no only advertises it but makes the amazing assertion that you should apply 6 pounds of force to your edge with it!  For crying out loud why not sell the poor well-to-do ignorant bastards buying these knives something for touchups like a MinoSharp that won't destroy their edges?

If you must have a hone the 12" Idahone can be had for $30.

Rick
 
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Joined May 29, 2013
Bob Kramer's carbon steel knives are made in Japan by Miyabi, a Japanese cutlery company (now owned by Zwilling Henckels) that makes very good quality products.  Bob Kramer worked with Miyabi to set up production protocols and the result is a quality product.  The blade steel is 52100 steel, the same as Kramer custom knives.

That being said, while I accept the quality of the product, I have to ask whether this would be the best bang for your buck.  The first issue is how do you intend to sharpen the knife?

Keep in mind that honing is not sharpening.  What honing does is to re-align the (microscopic) edge of the knife.  For honing, as Rick said above, a 12 inch fine Idahone is as good as you will ever need - and a lot cheaper than a Kramer hone.

What it does not do to any significant degree is remove metal.  That's the sharpening process.  And for that, you will need good stones.

My own reaction is that a lot of the peripheral gear offered under the Kramer name is just much more expensive than equivalent gear.

You can buy a hone, or good quality stones cheaper and still get the sharpening job done just as well.

Another issue is how do you hold the knife?  Do you hold the handle in a "racket-style" full grip?  Or do you use a pinch grip?  There's just a small degree of curvature on the handle - and what you need to do is to try a cut both in a pinch grip and a racket-style grip.

See how well you can do either when doing a "guillotine and glide" style of push-cut (that's where you start off doing a downward chop and finish with a forward thrust - that way, you get a very clean and full cut through your food on one stroke).

Is 8 inches the appropriate length?  Many chefs now gravitate towards 10 inches.  And the 10 inch version is $349.95, compared to the $299.95 for the 8 inch version.  Not that much difference in cost, for quite a bit more functionality.  And with a pinch-grip, a 10 inch blade doesn't feel all that much bigger.

As for care, the proper method is to IMMEDIATELY wash and dry-wipe.  Wiping down with a wet towel and then with a dry towel doesn't quite cut it.  Not to mention food safety.

I'm not familiar with hands-on experience with 52100 steel, but my inclination is to force a thorough surface patina of Fe[sub]3[/sub]O[sub]4[/sub]  (that's a form of iron oxide, which is grey to blue to black in  color).  That patina acts as a tight oxidized surface on the surface of the blade and inhibits the formation of another form of iron oxide (Fe[sub]2[/sub]O[sub]3[/sub]), which is reddish and orange in coloration, and goes by the generic name of "rust".

As for your budget, think through whether you have not only stones for sharpening, but also a good cutting board.  This is the type of knife which really deserves a good quality end grain hardwood cutting board.

You said you are familiar with Henckels and Wusthof.  Are you familiar with any other knives, such as better quality Japanese knives?  Would you consider one?  Would you consider trying one?

Hope that gives you food for thought.

Galley Swiller
 
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This is coming from someone who has only been smithing for a short time. Did work with some 52100 type steel. It's low in alloys.

We just oil quenched . If the knife is being put through a carburizing treatment I assume it would be very expensive. I can also remember some of the spec sheets on it. I think it's more of a mechanical steel where they need very strict tolerances. I'm sure there was a notation somewhere that this steel is great with specific and exact handling or it can be funky. Brittle, edge problems, realigning the blade, etc. I personally think it's an aircraft metal or mechanical that finishes as yea or nea. I'll go through my paper junk to see what I can find.

  I'm kinda with Galley Swiller on checking out the better quality Japanese knives.

I also think the 5200 is low enough in alloy that it will shine up and be stain resistant. just  low educated 2 cents.
 
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What it does not do to any significant degree is remove metal.  That's the sharpening process.  And for that, you will need good stones.

My own reaction is that a lot of the peripheral gear offered under the Kramer name is just much more expensive than equivalent gear.

You can buy a hone, or good quality stones cheaper and still get the sharpening job done just as well.
Originally Posted by Galley Swiller  

Another issue is how do you hold the knife?  Do you hold the handle in a "racket-style" full grip?  Or do you use a pinch grip?  There's just a small degree of curvature on the handle - and what you need to do is to try a cut both in a pinch grip and a racket-style grip.

See how well you can do either when doing a "guillotine and glide" style of push-cut (that's where you start off doing a downward chop and finish with a forward thrust - that way, you get a very clean and full cut through your food on one stroke).
Originally Posted by Galley Swiller  

Is 8 inches the appropriate length?  Many chefs now gravitate towards 10 inches.  And the 10 inch version is $349.95, compared to the $299.95 for the 8 inch version.  Not that much difference in cost, for quite a bit more functionality.  And with a pinch-grip, a 10 inch blade doesn't feel all that much bigger.
 

As for care, the proper method is to IMMEDIATELY wash and dry-wipe.  Wiping down with a wet towel and then with a dry towel doesn't quite cut it.  Not to mention food safety.
I would consider trying Japanese knives (a few of my friends love their Japanese knives), but I just assumed that they required very high maintenance. My German knives only require me to hone before every use and sharpen once or twice a year. What would be the maintenance required by Japanese knives? Honing before each use? Same frequency of sharpening as German knives?

Thank you guys so much!

EDIT: Also, why are Japanese knives so low? The German knives are a bit taller, and when I tried a Shun, I noticed that my hands were a lot closed to the cutting board. Do you still do the rocking/rolling chop with Japanese knives?
 
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Pretty much never rock chop. my maintenance is every couple weeks if it feels dull i strop on a splash and go finishing stone. Maybe actually sharpen 3 times a year for average home use.

No daily nothing. Do you still think soft steel maintenance is less work?

Knives come in different heights. Off the top of my head some taller knives Kochi, Itinimonn, Watanabe, Takeda
 
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Is 8" too small?  For 25 years I used primarily the same cheap 8" slicer, I still use it for slicing soft bread.  Do I prefer a 10" chefs to it?  Yes.

As to the Kramer, this is a rare instance where I would not make a significant effort to talk someone out of a German backed knife.  The Kramer is not only very attractive and very well made, it has an excellent profile and first class steel.  You can get the 10" for $350 on Amazon.

The only downside to consider is that for about 40% less you can get a 240 Itonomin which, though arguably not as pretty, will edge out the Kramer as a cutter every way, not that the Kramer is a slouch here.

Rick
 
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10" has a decent flat spot actually


I found this thread of choil shots.  Left is Kramer by Kramer idk what these auction for like $10k these days?  Right is Kramer by Zwilling, it could use a bit of fine tuning on the stones.


I see these float around used and I would get one around $200-250 on a whim if they didn't sell so fast.  $350 there are other options I'd rather try
 
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Yeh the Kramer is actually over 60% flat, and the "mythology" is the sweep of the profile is taken from a particular class of sailboat hull said to have "universal proportions."

It's extremely interesting how Kramer originals skyrocketed in price, there is simply no practical justification for it.  From an article in a culinary magazine never known for an intelligent knife review the price of his knives went from an industry comparable (custom knives) $100 an inch to $300.  Now there are Kramers auctioning at over $40K.  To put that in perspective, the top dollar figure for a Bill Moran is around $30K, and there's no chance for additional supply there as he's dead already.  I will say that Kramer has done some Damascus work that is particularly artful from my perspective.

Sorry for the digression.

Rick 
 
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Pretty much never rock chop. my maintenance is every couple weeks if it feels dull i strop on a splash and go finishing stone. Maybe actually sharpen 3 times a year for average home use.

No daily nothing. Do you still think soft steel maintenance is less work?

Knives come in different heights. Off the top of my head some taller knives Kochi, Itinimonn, Watanabe, Takeda
What is the proper technique for using the Japanese knives? By "rock chop" do you mean the mincing kind of rock chop? Or the circular slicing motion associated with German knives?

What kind of stones do you use? Do you recommend any strops or finishing stones?
 
Is 8" too small?  For 25 years I used primarily the same cheap 8" slicer, I still use it for slicing soft bread.  Do I prefer a 10" chefs to it?  Yes.

As to the Kramer, this is a rare instance where I would not make a significant effort to talk someone out of a German backed knife.  The Kramer is not only very attractive and very well made, it has an excellent profile and first class steel.  You can get the 10" for $350 on Amazon.

The only downside to consider is that for about 40% less you can get a 240 Itonomin which, though arguably not as pretty, will edge out the Kramer as a cutter every way, not that the Kramer is a slouch here.

Rick
Thanks! But why do you prefer the 10"? Is it because it feels more balanced? Easier to cut with? 

Which Japanese knives should I look into? Some friends suggested gyutos from the following manufacturers: Misono, Kikuichi, Tojiro, and Gesshin.
 
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You're more in command with a 240 or a 10", more versatility.  For small stuff I'd rather use a petty than an 8" chefs.

All the Japanese knives mentioned deserve consideration, they all have their particular strengths.  FI, the Kikuichi TKC is semi-stainless and displays the best of both worlds in ease of sharpening and resitance to rust, nice thin knife; The Itonomin is [I think] a light middleweight that is very thin behind the edge and has a very nice carbon steel core that takes and holds an edge very well;  The Geshin first class laser;  Tojiro is a great value.

Rick
 
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I noticed that the Carbon Collection - Kramer by ZWILLING J.A. Henckels is being offered at Bed, Bath and Beyond who forever offer 20$ off coupons.

Jack
 
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Bob Kramer 10 inch at Bed Bath & Beyond, $249.99 :http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/sto...-10-inch-chef-knife/1044480288?skuId=44480288

20% off on-line coupon at Bed Bath & Beyond:  http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/sto...WadNxP-jpuHLbc5Vaq1ZY2iOhhDbc8CmiEaAtb78P8HAQ

Just three caveats:  

First, you are giving up your email address (unless you give them a temporary email address)

Second, the fine print says: "Exclusions apply" and you cant't find out (until you submit your application) what those exclusions are.

Third, no idea as to how long the sale will last.

GS
 
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All true but, you can always put them in your spam folder.  The 20% off seems to be a continuing thing for BB&B so if you find something you like - go for it.

Jack
 

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