Things I love
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Things I Love: Shun Bob Kramer Chef’s Knife

When have you spent too much money on your tools? That’s a question I’m often asking myself. I always lust after the latest and greatest kitchen gadget. I try to deal with this by buying the best tool in the first place, since I will probably come up with an excuse to buy it eventually.
*”Buy the best, and only cry once” is the best summary of this approach.  Also, I’m trying to stick with a one in, one out strategy for new kitchen tools.  If I buy a new toy gadget essential tool, I get rid of something to make space for it.

This long winded introduction is because I’m a little embarrassed about the price of this one. I love my Shun Bob Kramer 8-inch chef’s knife. Yes, it’s a $340 chef’s knife. Yes, I know that I was telling you how much I loved the regular Shun chef’s knife not that long ago.
*I am fickle with my knives. The regular Shun is a great knife, and if the Shun Bob Kramer didn’t exist, I’d still be using it happily. 
**It’s a testament to the usability of the plain, boring, cheap Victorinox 8-inch chef’s knife that I used it as long as I did. I still use the Victorinox when I am doing something that might dull the blade on my “good” knives, like cutting a squash or sectioning a chicken. If you don’t agree with the “always buy the best” approach, then the $30 Victorinox is the best value knife out there.  It’s 90% of the knife that the Shuns are, for a tiny fraction of the price.

I’m obviously a little conflicted about the price of this knife.
*And even then I wouldn’t have bought it, except I had a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket after my last birthday. Thank you, Pat, Erin and Olivia!

But…oh, my. Shun’s regular line of knives are gorgeous, but the Shun Bob Kramer knives are works of art. They are made out of Shun’s SG2 powdered steel, and clad with a thin layer of stainless Damascus steel.  You get the beauty of Bob Kramer’s Damascus steel, the ease of maintenance of stainless steel, and the hardness of Shun’s high tech powdered steel.
*Want to know what this all means?  Check out Chad Ward’s An Edge in the Kitchen for an excellent overview on knives, sharpening, hardness and metallurgy.

The Bob Kramer knife is heavier than the regular Shun, but every bit as sharp. It feels better in my hand, and I love the wider blade. It’s a brilliant combination of art and function.  My chef’s knife is the most important tool in my kitchen.  It is the tool I use the most, by far.  I want one that feels like it’s an extension of my arm, one that just works.*  And if it happens to double as a beautiful work of art?  That’s even better.
*Which is the key to a good kitchen knife.  Does it fit in your hand?  Does it feel right?  That’s the most important thing about knives.  It’s why I stuck with the Victorinox for so long; the only knives I’ve used that felt noticeably better were the Shuns.  Until they came along, everything else didn’t quite fit my hand as well.
**But!  I’m 6’3″, so my hands may be larger than yours.  Make sure that you can play with a knife before you buy it, to see how it feels.  At least, if you buy online, make sure the vendor has a good return policy.

(left to right: Victorinox, Shun, Shun Bob Kramer)

If I could afford one, I would get a real Bob Kramer knife.  One that he has hand forged out of Damascus steel.  I know I was just talking about “buying the best.” But.  While the Shun version of his knives cost $340, his hand-forged knives cost roughly that much…per inch of length. For my eight inch chef’s knife, that would be a LOT of money.
*Now, maybe someday when this little food blog makes me Rich and Famous…

Here is a video of the master bladesmith at work:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

What do you think?  Questions?  Other ideas?  Leave them in the comments section below.

Inspired by:
Shun Bob Kramer Knives at SurLaTable.com
Kramer Knives
Details of the Shun and Bob Kramer collaboration [chadwrites.com]

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Filed under: Things I love

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Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.

12 Comments

  1. @Anonymous:
    Thank you for sharing your personal experience, comparing the two types of Shun knives.

    But…I almost didn’t approve the comment. You are very close to a personal attack on Krunkinaor in your post.

    @Krunkinator:
    Thank you for being civil in your response!

  2. Anonymous says

    Anonymous,

    You said it yourself: “I have two genuine Kramer chef knifes that I bought in 2002. They are by far the best chef knifes I have ever had”

    The Shuns are great, indeed. No argument.

    A reproduction of the Mona Lisa might be perfectly good, but only the original is celebrated.

    Krunkinator

  3. Anonymous says

    Krunkinator is wrong. I have two genuine Kramer chef knifes that I bought in 2002. They are by far the best chef knifes I have ever had, but the Sur La Table Shun Kramer is pretty damn close to being as good. The weight, length, and feel is almost exactly like the Kramer original they used. Rob Kramer was a guest speaker at the World Kitchen Knife Expo in Atlanta before the release of the Shun Kramer. They showcased the original and the Shun side by side and I got to play with both. The Shun is an amazing knife and Kramer/Shun did hit a home run with this one.

    So Krunkinator is wrong that they are nothing alike. They are almost exactly alike except Krunkinator spent 10 times more for the “Real McCoy” when the copy is just as good for all practical purposes.

    I love my Kramer originals (lucky I got them before he became extremely popular), but I also love the Kramer Shun.

  4. Patrick says

    Thought you might enjoy this:

    [u]http://www.chow.com/videos?tag=chow_top_nav;chow_top_nav_inner#!/show/obsessives/55121/obsessives-knifemaker[/u]

    chow.com’s Obsessives videos are great.

  5. I just got my Kramer Damascus knives by UPS earlier this week, after 2 1/2 years – and it was well worth the wait! For some reason, there seem to be very few pictures of these nearly mythological instruments: http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4288742419/

    These are a dream to use – I feel very fortunate. I don’t own the Shun-branded models, but in handling them at Sur la Table & Williams Sonoma, they feel nothing like the Real McCoys. There is heft, but they are nimble & agile. The blade sounds a little different, too.

  6. I have a large collection of Shun’s most of them are the Shun Kaji and when the Bob Kramer’s came out I really liked the way the looked and held them at WS and liked the handles allot however the deal breaker for me was that they only come 8″ chef. I am so spoiled after using my 10″ Kaji that I just cannot bring myself to go back to 8 for daily use.

    Oh well I guess that decision by shun saved me some money..

  7. @Brad:

    I have some good (bad?) news for you – Shun has just released a Shun Bob Kramer 10 inch chef’s knife. It’s exclusively at Sur La Table, and it’s only (only!) $379.

    That said, if you have the Kaji, and like it, you’re good with what you have. My understanding is the Bob Kramer and the Kaji use the same steel; it’s just the shape of the blade and the handle that are different.

  8. Thanks, guys. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who lusts after kitchen toys.

    AYOTG: …the impossble dream, to fight, the unbeatable foe, to win the…oh, sorry. I’ll stop now.

    Tom: The heft is one of the things that surprised me. I always loved the regular Shun because of how light it was. I thought that would be a drawback to the heavier Shun Bob Kramer. Now I’m used to having the more substantial knife, and I don’t want to go back!

    Also, I was using my brother-in-law’s Shun carving knife over Thanksgiving. That was a case where the lighter knife was an asset. And they’re so sharp! I loved how it worked. I think I need a bigger knife block…

  9. Pardon me while I wipe up the puddle of drool off my keyboard. I have two regular Shun knives, the paring knife and the 8″ chef and I love them both for their edge. The one thing I have always felt that they were missing though was the nice heft of a Henckel or Wustoff. Sounds like for a bit more dough, you can get it.

    Tom
    Exploring Food My Way

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