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Jan 5, 2010 10:53 AM

Shun - Bob Karmer Knives

My first non-question post.

This just occurs to me. There are actually two different lines of knives created by the partnership between Shun and Bob Kramer. There is the Sur La Table line:

and there is the Williams Sonoma Meji line:

The blade materials appear to be similar. The major differences are the handle and maybe the bolster.

Feel free add information. Thanks.

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  1. not positive, but i think bob kramer's own sight may explain the differences. i would guess you couldn't go wrong with either one though

    1. I don't believe this had not occurred to you before. Didn't you reference both lines in one of the other knife threads? :-)

      W-S lists the SS layers at 64 (32/side) while SLT does not. Counting the layers, I get 32 (16/side) on the SLT chef's knife. SLT lists the blade thickness at 3mm, while W-S does not. Being an Asian line, I would guess that the Meiji blades are possibly thinner than the Euro blades. This would imply that the Euro line's SG2 core is thicker than the Meiji's. Shun might divulge the information, if asked very respectfully. Otherwise, the only way to tell would be to buy one of each & cut them in half. 8-O

      The only other difference I can see is the grinding pattern. The Euro line is flat-ground perpendicular to the cutting edge, while the Meiji line is flat-ground at a slight diagonal angle (maybe 10 degrees from perpendicular?).

      5 Replies
      1. re: Eiron


        I guess I had always paid attention on the Williams Sonoma Bob Kramer line. I know the W-S line is called the Asian line, but I wonder if that just refer to the handle looks more Asian, where the Euro line has a more traditional Western handle.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Could be. Apart from the handle/bolster differences, both lines appear to have similar blade profiles. Looking at Kramer's original knives, I think the handle design on the Euro line is not quite as nicely contoured at the rear. I never really looked closely at the original Meiji line.

          I plan on taking a weekend day & driving the 50 miles to Denver to see both lines. I hope to do this soon, but don't know exactly when at this point.

          1. re: Eiron


            Are you sure your wife is going to put up with your 50 miles knife hunting trip?

            The prices are not too different between the two lines. The Williams Sonoma Asian line looks slightly better, although I am sure they have the same performance. The handle of the W-S Asian line seems to be more parallel with the spine of the blade which gives it more similar to the Alton Brown Shun line.


            The Sur La Table Euro handle takes on an angle in between the spine and the edge near the heel.


            In that sense, I may prefer the Euro line. I will have to raise the knife at a higher angle to do rock-chop using the WS Asian Shun Chef knife and I probably won't like that.

            Please update your hands-on experience. I am interested to know. I have Williams-Sonoma around here, but no Sur La Table.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              LOL, she has a miniature-houses store that she shops at & it's about 10 miles farther away. I'll plan the two locations for a single all-day excursion. :-)

              Based on my recent experiences, I think I might also prefer the Euro handle to the Meiji handle. It's bulged in the middle & symmetrically shaped/curved/rounded for both R/L handers. The Meiji is "handed" with a side point on the oval, so it may be as comfortable for me as the Shun "D"/teardrop handle is. I won't know until I try them both. I'll definitely report on them.

              But I'm not in a huge hurry right now. (Just a little hurry.) ;-) Besides the Henckels 8" chef (bought just after Thanksgiving) & the Cutco 5" santoku (xmas gift), I now have three more new knives. 8-D

              I'll start a new thread for those...

              1. re: Eiron

                You have new three knives on top of your Henckels and Cutco? Wow. I bought two more knives, but they are inexpensive Dexter-Russell (maybe $25 total including shipping). I bought it just so I won't only have German and Japanese knives. Now, I have three American knives.

                Knives collection is better than miniature houses collection in my opinion.

      2. Hey Eiron,

        I just saw these videos. It is Bob Kramer Meji (Asian) Gyuto in action (By SaltyDog):

        6 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Hey Chem,
          Thanks! I'll have to view them tonight when I get home.
          Last week's CBS Sunday Morning reran their Bob Kramer interview. I noticed that they re-voiced the knives' descriptions & stated that his Damascus prices are $400/in. When it originally aired (a year ago?) they were selling at $300/in.

          1. re: Eiron

            Did you see that Bob Kramer auctioned off a few knives on eBay a couple weeks ago and fetched around $20,000 in total for them. One knife went for $12,000+.

            As for the two Kramer lines, I really like the Meji design, but I looked on the W-S site and it looks as if the chef's knife only comes in 8-inch. Sur la Table has a 10-inch for the other style (available on 15 July), so maybe in the future the Meji line will get 'longer'.

            Btw, I saw on Kramer's website the CBS interview video, but his link on 'cutting through bolts' was also interesting (link below). Apparently, he used different edge geometries on the same blade for each task, so essentially he didn't use the same part of the blade to chop wood, shave hair, cut bolts, slice open water bottles and hack in half a rope.

            That doesn't diminish my desire to own one of his knives, but it explains a little bit of the wow factor.


            1. re: smkit

              Originally, I prefer the Euro line from Sur La Table but now I like the Meji.

              "Apparently, he used different edge geometries on the same blade for each task"

              That is not uncommon even for kitchen knives. Some people grind their knives at an obtuse angle at the knife heel and an acute angle for the rest of the blade. This way, the knife can handle tough works at the heel and perform more delicate work on the rest of the blade.

              I am putting the link to the video you mentioned:


              and there is the opposite:


              1. re: smkit

                I do not have any of Bob's kitchen knives, but he made me a custom hunter years ago before he dedicated himself to marketing, and did some temper-line oil quenching for me on some of my blades. The 52100 really is a great steel--if you take care of it.

                Bob knows sharp. In the old shop/store in Seattle, he kept the wares so incredibly sharp, customers frequently cut themselves without even knowing it.

                Bob is also one of the few accessible bladesmiths who knows how to grind and resharpen a convex edge (one continuous curving bevel each side, meeting in a broad cutting edge). Bob rehandled and reground an antique 1/4"-thick cleaver of mine to a convex edge that still pops hair, Don't know where I'll turn if it ever gets dinged up.

            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Here is another saltydog video (1 minute) .

              Note first finger.

              1. re: Paulustrious

                Actually you don't have the link, but I might have seen that one. The one he blindfolded himself and cut through two onions and then gave the middle finger to the camera.