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Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by eloki, Mar 28, 2010.
Sure. Kramer is one of the best known and respected knife smiths in the US, and so is his brand of semi-customs.
Kramer still makes knives both Damascus and plain, 52100 carbon I've barely seen one of his Damascus in person, and didn't have the chance to give it a real trial. His plain carbon steel knives are incredibly well made, take a great edge, and hold it well. But his chef's knives have a very German profile which I don't like at all.
Shun has licensed his name and has a line of mass-produced knives which kinda-sorta look like real Kramers -- but their construction and alloy choices are entirely different. For one thing Kramer Damascus knives use actual "Damascus construction." That is, the entire knife, including the edge, is made with the pattern welded steel. But the Shuns are what I call "faux" Damascus -- that is they're san-mai with a pattern welded jigane. In other words, the Damascene patterned steel is wrapped around a solid steel core which forms the entire edge. FWIW, the Shun Kramer hagane (core) is SG2, a very good PM (metallurgical powder) steel, hardened to around 64. Kinves of similar alloys and construction style are usually somewhat difficult to sharpen but have excellent edge holding porperties. Some are a bit chippy, and some are not. SG2 has a very good rep in that respect.
I've run into a couple of Shun Kramers, but haven't tried one enough to give it a fair chance. In the year or so they've been out, reaction in the knife forums has been tepid. I know Chad Ward was very excited about them when they were first announced about a year ago. Maybe he's tried one and has some reactions up on his blog.
I'd love to try one of his knives. On the website, the spine of his chef's knife seems to be arching upwards (like a rainbow) as opposed to being straight. I wonder what it does with regards to ergonomics.
The spine/top-line doesn't usually do much one way or the other, as long as the point is low enough.
Kramer chef knives/gyuto appear to have a lot of arc along the edge, giving them a very "German" profile.
Here's a 10" Kramer chef:
I don't like it, but you might. I prefer the less arced, straighter French style. For instance, my own knife -- a classic 10" K-Sabatier:
A typical Japanese "gyuto" has very similar edge geomtry to the French style Tokyo and other "Eastern" style gyutos are very French. This Masamoto HC, which I like as much as my K-Sab has an even straigher edge and a late break to a lower tip.:
Of course, neither of these knives are as visually stunning as the Kramer. But "stunning" doesn't cut onions.
We can get into the "whys and wherefores" of German vs French/Japanese profiles if you like.
BDL, I would very much like to know why French (and Japanese) and German knives have such very different profiles. I just acquired the Fujitake I was asking for advice on a couple of months ago (the knife felt great and I was looking to buy local, as the folks at Hida Tool have been really great to me), and though I'm still getting used to it, I can tell already that the blade shape is going to be MUCH better for me than my Wusthoff. However, I'm not sure exactly why that is. Thanks in advance for your time!
The French/Japanese (but let's just call them French for now) profile has a straighter edge with less arc on it than a German profiled blade. The rear part of the edge on a French knife tends to be rather straight, without significant belly until around halfway down the knife. On the other hand, Germpan profiles, especially wide profiles like the Kramer or the Lamson, exhibit significant arc much earlier -- sometimes at the "chin," i.e., from the get-go.
German knives are built to "rock-chop." In other words, they take a significant amount of handle pumping in order to get any length at all of edge down on the board. French knives are more amenable to a more "push cut" like action. The knife can be brought almost straight down and still cleanly chop through a wide piece of food -- especially at the back end.
It's a little easier to make a German knife "shear" through a cut than a French knife. With the French style you have to teach yourself to "tip down" at the beginning of the cut. But with German knives you just rock the handle down once you've started -- the arc acts as a continuous fulcrum, and the knife automatically shears. Consequently, German knives have more power and don't punish poor skills or dullness as sternly as French knives do. On the other hand, they don't reward good skills with the same agility and economy of motion; nor do they reward sharpness as much either.
Your Fujitake might be the first truly sharp knife you've ever used. And, when it comes to knives, sharpness is the biggest difference of all.
In my experience, high skill users tend to prefer French profiles but that's by no mean universal -- it's strictly a matter of taste.
That was a actually a pretty good video, much better than the mainstream media usually does when they tackle esoteric or "niche" stories. By all accounts Bob is a true master at what he does. I wouldn't dream of spending several grand on one; there are other custom makers who's products I find more appealing. I would rather spend my coin on a knife by Devin Thomas. Still, you can't argue with his success. More power to him.