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Kramer vs Kramer

Eiron Dec 28, 2010 10:06 PM

I finally made it down to the high-brow mall that houses both a Williams-Sonoma & a Sur la Table. The goal (for the past year) has been to directly compare the Shun Kramer Meiji line with the Shun Kramer Euro line. Since the Euro line most closely resembles Kramer's original custom knives, I expected to like these best. But I already own a couple of Shun Classic knives with their asymetrical D-shaped handle & love the way they fit my hand. I wanted to compare the two lines & let them speak for themselves.

First of all, let me say that the pictures do NOT do these knives justice! Both lines are superbly finished, with polished blades that look like they were forged from flowing mercury & somehow frozen into these beautiful, perfect blade shapes. Absolutely stunning. The wood used in both lines looks rich & feels substantial, with perfect contours & glass-smooth finishes. Of course, with both lines now being made with SG2 powdered steel cores, they each cut & slice beautifully.

First up was the W-S Meiji line. Nice balance, but the asymmetric handle has a pronounced ridge that the Shun Classics do not. The ridge was almost sharp. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't something I'd want to pay $400 to use for the rest of my life. I could always sand it down, I suppose. But would I want to after spending that much? Uhhhh, no, I guess probably not. Also, after a year of using my Kanetsune gyuto, I thought the cutting edge had too much curvature/belly for something promoted as an Asian-style knife. Not as much as the Shun Classic chef's knife, but more than what I was expecting.

So, over to the SLT Euro line. These were even worse for me than the Meiji. I didn't like the balance & I thought they were very heavy. Worst of all were the handles! They were way too fat, bulbous & bloated. It was like trying to hold some kind of mutant fruit or veggie. I honestly could not comfortably pinch-grip these knives, as the handle felt like it was continually pushing my palm forward onto the blade. And these blades got belly! Overall, I was crushed. I mean, these were the beauties I'd been waiting a year to see in person! I really wanted to like these knives.

Oh well, I guess my Kramer Lust is gone. Not a terrible thing, I suppose.

I thought the Miyabi Birchwood line was very comfortable, light & well-balanced. And with its SG2 core & 100 layer cladding, it seems like a much better value at $250 than many other SG2 knives. If I were going to buy anything here, it would definitely be from this line.

I also liked the new Shun Classic gyuto "Asian chef" knife. It's only 7" long, but it's got the smaller diameter handle found on their 6" utility knife. This makes it much more maneuverable than the large diameter handle used on the 8" chef's knife. It's also a great deal at $100 for now-standard VG-10 core & 32 layer cladding.

  1. kaleokahu Dec 29, 2010 08:31 AM

    Eiron: Thanks for the review.

    "Oh well, I guess my Kramer Lust is gone. Not a terrible thing, I suppose."

    There is nothing supernatural about Kramer knives, even the ones he makes himself. They're just very good knives designed by an ABS master 'smith. Last time I checked, there were 125 or so ABS masters in the USA. Others' names have found their way onto Japanese blades before, e.g., Ken Onion. Bob Kramer has carefully, patiently, assiduously branded himself as THE chef's knifemaker, and parlayed his publicity in Saveur, NYT, Martha Stewart, etc., etc. into ridiculous prices for his work, and licensing his name.

    I have a blade and a cleaver that Bob made for me in the 1990s. They're not Excaliburs, just very nice pieces of cutlery.

    26 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu
      d
      dessert_diva Dec 29, 2010 10:41 AM

      Oh trust me, I have no illusions that owning any particular knife in the known universe is likely to turn me into Julia Child overnight. Or even in a decade or two (or three...). :)

      That said, although 99% of the time I will always choose function over form, I do feel an extra joy in using a well-made tool (of any type) that is ALSO beautiful to behold. And I don't think anyone would disagree that a Kramer knife IS beautiful, even to the eyes of someone who knows nothing about knives in general. :D

      1. re: dessert_diva
        kaleokahu Dec 29, 2010 11:37 AM

        DD: I winced when I hit "Post My Reply" thinking I might have rained on your parade.

        IMO, you SHOULD enjoy using a beautiful, well-made tool like this. And who knows? It might INSPIRE you to do great things!

        1. re: dessert_diva
          Eiron Dec 29, 2010 02:40 PM

          Yes, the desire to own a knife as attractive as it was functional is what first interested me in the Shun Classic line. The Shun Kramers are on another level entirely!

          I really expected to instantly LOVE the Shun Kramer Euro line. The function part of it just didn't fit MY requirements. I'd never tell anyone not to buy them; I just know now that they're not for me. :-(

        2. re: kaleokahu
          Eiron Dec 29, 2010 02:47 PM

          Kaleo, I believe that Bob only started making/selling knives about 15+ yrs ago? Yours must be very early examples of his work. Do you see an evolution in his designs compared to what he sells today?

          1. re: Eiron
            kaleokahu Dec 29, 2010 06:52 PM

            Eiron: I'm bad with time, but I'm pretty sure it was the '90s. Bob had a funky little shop down by (what was then) the Seattle Kingdome that he shared with an antiques shop. He did business then as Bladesmith, Inc., but stamped all his blades--not the tangs--KRAMER. Now that I think about it, I think I may have started hanging around the shop before he got the ABS master certification, because I remember him showing me his Quillon Dagger, which was one of the masters' test submissions. I do remember seeing some chefs knives, but only Euro-style. At that time, Bob's claim to fame was more his convex edge that would cut you from about a foot away.

            His pattern Damascus is a lot prettier these days ($$$ to buy big presses) and there's more asymmetry to the handles than before. He mostly sticks to hidden tangs now--my stuff was scaled. From ricasso forward, the "pointy-yet-deep" geometry hasn't changed much in the Euro chefs. I think he uses the same notch trick to key in the guards and bolsters.

            Back then, Bob did pretty much everything there is to do with fixed blades--there was no special focus on kitchen cutlery. Lots of hunters, Bowies, daggers, swords. Not too much Damascus, either--he had one Little Giant triphammer he basically just used to forge the profiles and starting bevels.

            1. re: kaleokahu
              d
              dessert_diva Dec 30, 2010 05:02 AM

              Great backstory on Bob Kramer, thanks, kaleokahu!

              "He mostly sticks to hidden tangs now" -- do you mean in his custom knives? Just curious because the Shun (S la T) Kramers have a visible tang. Are the W-S Meijis like that as well? I searched images but none came up that show the spine of the knife, so I can't tell. Eiron, do you recall whether the tang on the Meiji is visible, or hidden?

              Again, just curious. :)

              1. re: dessert_diva
                Eiron Dec 30, 2010 09:16 AM

                It's completely hidden on the Meiji line.

                1. re: dessert_diva
                  kaleokahu Dec 30, 2010 09:43 AM

                  DD: Just out of curiosity, are`the exposed tangs on the SLT Kramers tapered?

                  1. re: kaleokahu
                    d
                    dessert_diva Dec 30, 2010 12:56 PM

                    Okay... apologies in advance if I screw up the terminology: ;)

                    On my SLT Kramers, the width of the visible tang is the same throughout. However... the tang is not visible on both the top AND bottom of the handle (as is the case in my Wusthof paring knife, in which the tang is visible "all the way around"). On the Kramer, the tang extends back along the top of the handle from the collar, wraps around the back of the handle and then stops halfway between the 'top' and 'bottom' of the handle back; it does not wrap ALL the way around the back of the handle. From that midway point of the handle back, onward to the collar again, running along the bottom of the handle, the tang is not visible; you just see wood.

                    All of the photos I've seen of "full tang" knives show the tang running all the way along the handle, top and bottom; and in "hidden tang" knives you don't see any tang at all. So what would the style of the SLT Kramers be called? A "half-exposed tang"? (sounds like something the cops might pick someone up for, LOL!)

                    1. re: dessert_diva
                      Chemicalkinetics Dec 30, 2010 01:27 PM

                      Dessert,

                      I see your description in a photo. Here I am attaching that photo.

                      Kaleokahu,

                      If I understand the definition of a taper tang, then no, Shun Kramer knives do not have a taper tang (gradually thinning tang toward the end of the handle)

                       
                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        kaleokahu Dec 30, 2010 02:07 PM

                        DD & Chem: Indeed, it is called a half tang, although most half-tangs stop short of even running the entire backstrap. (I have some ebony-handled 1950s Henkels that are done this way). Makers use this method because it saves metal, wood and time, and if the fitment is done well, fewer escutcheons are needed. If the maker has a circular sawblade that has the same kerf as the tang thickness, s/he can just buzz a groove in a solid handle blank, drop the tang into the slot and it's ready to glue and pin it down. With the right jigs and/or CNC there is very little material to remove before final finishing. Done right, it's actually a very secure method.

                        Unless the pinstock is cosmetic (which I doubt), the tang must sit down somewhat low in the handle. Maybe the tang has lobes through which the pins pass.

                        I was kind of amused to read somewhere (W-S catalogue?) that Bob supposedly makes up all the decorative pinstock himself. Riiiiight! If that's the case, the waiting list for knives is going to be 5 years. I Can picture him now, sucking black epoxy through 500 soda straws (brass tubes) per day.

                        Tapered tangs, like integral bolsters and pommels, used to be good indicators of a hand-forged blade. Not so much anymore with computers doing most of the work, but the tapers can still be a nice way to shift the balance point forward. Difficulty drilling non-parallel tangs fitting scales to the out-of-square tang and bolster surfaces is a reason most makers don't do tapers. A RPA.

                        1. re: kaleokahu
                          d
                          dessert_diva Dec 31, 2010 05:53 AM

                          As usual, you are a font of information. :)

                          So in the case of the SLT Kramers, "half tang" (as it's normally interpreted) is more of a cosmetic description rather than a structural one? Because I always ASSumed that "full tang" meant the tang runs through the entire length of the handle, whereas "half tang" meant -- as you said -- that it stops about halfway and the rest of the handle contains just wood (or composite or whatever it's made of).

                          But obviously the SLT Kramer tangs run the length of the handle although apparantly not the entire width of it (top-to-bottom)? I guess then the precise description might be that it has a "slim full tang"? Unless the tang is ALMOST as wide as the handle but for design/aesthetic reasons it was decided that the underside of the handle would be smooth? Because I can't see why Shun/Kramer would want to cut corners costwise on the construction, after all, they aren't pricing either SLT line exactly cheap compared to some others. :)

                          Now please explain what "if the fitment is done well, fewer escutcheons are needed" means? :D (did you mean the pinstocks? Escutcheons to me brings up connotations of heraldry but obvioiusly that doesn't apply here, does it?)

                          1. re: dessert_diva
                            kaleokahu Dec 31, 2010 08:13 AM

                            DD: You've coined a good term for a full length/shallow-depth tang, but I'd call it "partial-depth full tang" for clarity.

                            I think you are right, this was done at least in part for aesthetics; in a kitchen knife subject to normal use, there isn't any real structural weakness with a half-tang done right. You're not giving the knife big torsional or kinetic stresses. And high-end buyers (apologies to the knife posse here, for whom its mostly about steel and function) like to see a nice big expanse of beautifully-figured wood. It sells knives.

                            A problem with hiding a "nearly full" tang just inside the (seemingly solid) wood is that the thin span of wood that's left can crack along the blade's axis. This can happen with a firm tortional twist (think of boning) or a drop. Stabilized and laminated woods help with, but don't solve, this problem.

                            "...I can't see why Shun/Kramer would want to cut corners costwise on the construction, after all, they aren't pricing either SLT line exactly cheap compared to some others." Let's just say that every Yen they save in the production is a Yen of margin for them. Part of it is that truly handmade knives aren't really very scalable--that's what's tied Bob in knots for years. Even if Shun had enough craftsmen to hand-make these knives, they'd have to ask a lot more for them than they do. If W-S is selling them for $400, that means a 40-50% markup. If BK is getting 10%, that means Shun has to produce, market, export, and support them for $175-$200 each. Which means their actual cost of production may be $100 or less. So yeah, they have an incentive to cut some minor corners.

                            "[P]lease explain what "if the fitment is done well, fewer escutcheons are needed" means?

                            In this case, it means if the tolerances (kerf/blade, tangholes/pins) are kept tight; there are few voids left within the handle; and the half-tang is deep enough at the front, all you need is one very light through-pin to hold everything securely in place, without even using glue, metal or mechanical fasteners. Japanese swords often have a single, reedy pin that holds the handle on, but it works well because everything is fitted up so well.

                            Although I have made some hidden tang knives, most of mine are scales over full tangs. Unless you're also going to fit these under ferrules front and rear, the scales will want to pop off, and decorative through-pins aren't a good solution, even with epoxy. That's why the makers still use cutlers' rivets. These aren't the best, either, but that's another story. Do your Kramers have any pins besides the decorative through-pin?

                            1. re: kaleokahu
                              d
                              dessert_diva Dec 31, 2010 08:57 AM

                              All three pins that are on the handle (the decorative one with the triple-circle design on it, in the center; plus a plain round pin of the same size as the decorative one, on each side of that) go all the way through the handle to the other side.

                              Hmmm, now I have a question for you after reading what you said about torsion. Referencing my "Knife storage quandary" question/thread, I've narrowed it down to either (a) the Chef's Depot magnetic half-circle block [which looks identical to the Messermeister bamboo one except that the CD one is maple and the M. one is bamboo), or (b) just a plain separate magnetic sheath for the SLT Kramer 8" chefs. Trying to decide which pros and cons of each are "the deciders", LOL.

                              Here's my question about torsion though: I'm assuming (though CD did not say speficially in response to my question about it) that the magnets in the CD block are rare earth ones which means they've probably got quite a pull and I have no idea how much force I'd have to apply to separate knife from block. I'm assuming it'd be more than what'd be needed in a thin magnetic/plastic sheath, right? Given that the SLT Kramers apparantly only a partial depth full tang, would those knives experience more stress from continually being yanked off of a pretty powerful magnet such as what's apparantly in the blocks? (or on a wall mounted magnet strip for that matter) In that case would the "lite" magnetic sheath be the better option for the overall 'health' of the knife?

                              Or am I babying these too much, like a nervous new parent with their first child, LOL?

                              1. re: dessert_diva
                                cowboyardee Dec 31, 2010 09:06 AM

                                A wooden block using rare earth magnets shouldn't really apply significantly different forces to your knife than a more common magnetic knife strip. Magnetic pull falls off drastically the further you get from said magnet. Rare earth magnets are stronger, yes, but that extra pull just goes to allowing the block to place wood in between the magnet and the knife. Functionally, the pull from these blocks is about the same or even less than a common bare magnetic strip.

                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHLzTo...
                                I'm assuming that's what you mean? If the pull was that strong on the knives, he'd have to use a second hand to steady the block as he removed a knife from it.

                                1. re: cowboyardee
                                  d
                                  dessert_diva Dec 31, 2010 09:48 AM

                                  Yes, that is (but isn't, LOL) the same block. "Is" because the form and function of the one CD is selling is identical, BUT technically "isn't" because the one in the video is an actual MagnaBlock which is made by Messermeister. Chef Depot no longer sells the Messermeister-branded MagnaBlock but instead sells their own "house brand" one: Their ad copy says "made in Europe to our exact specifications" and they don't call it a MagnaBlock.

                                  Btw, I misspoke earlier, I said the MagnaBlock is made of bamboo but what I meant to type was "birch". So the Messermeister product is birch, the CD version of it is rock maple. Personally I like the look of the maple better, especially since I'll be getting that endgrain maple Boardsmith... :D

                                  Prices for the branded MagnaBlock and the CD version are essentially the same. The only other difference, and this I did contact CD about, might be the magnets. The MagnaBlock ad copy specifically says they are neodymium (aka rare earth) magnets; the CD ad copy does not use either of those descriptions but says that the block contains a "powerful magnet". So I contacted them to ask specifically what kind of magnet is in their house brand block; their reply was "Likely it is similar or the same." (as the MagnaBlock which I referenced in my query, for comparison)

                                  My guess (hope) is that the same company makes the Messermeister birch one as is making the maple one for ChefDepot, the only difference being the branding when it actually gets to the retail market.

                                  I'm leaning toward the magnetic block because of (a) possible future knife purchases -- one never knows! (b) in conjunction with my existing knife block, would allow me to bring out the two least-used other knives which currently sit in a drawer due to lack of available slots in the block I have and (c) it will keep the SLT Kramer chef's knife ready to hand instead of in a sheath in a drawer.

                                  Makes sense that the actual surface force of a stronger magnet buried in wood, is probably the same as a standard magnet that doesn't need to traverse any material between itself and the knife blade.

                                2. re: dessert_diva
                                  kaleokahu Dec 31, 2010 11:28 AM

                                  DD: "All three pins...go all the way through the handle to the other side." Yes. We can be 99% confident that the center, decorative pin IS a pin, less so for the flankers. More than likely they're cutler's rivets, but they might be Corby rivets or other bolts. Given the tang design and the reputations of Shun and Kramer, this would be the kind of belt and suspenders fitment I'd expect in a $400 production knife.

                                  Re: torsion from a bar, I don't think you have any worries. At my beach place I have a strong magnetic bar (metal on metal), and I've twisted off the half-tang Henkels for 15 years now and no cracks. I worry more about rolling the knives up on the cutting edge than twisting a handle in two.

                                  We all need to encourage Eiron... Maybe he's the next Kramer, and maybe he'd do you a total custom for a bargain price.

                            2. re: kaleokahu
                              Eiron Jan 1, 2011 12:35 PM

                              It's interesting that the issue of a tapered tang came up; I had just noticed about a week before starting this thread that my Kanetsune gyuto has one.

                              Just for illustration, here's a pic of the KC-102's tapered full tang. The tang thickness at the bolster is 2mm, while at the back end of the handle it's 1.1mm. The handle itself is also slightly tapered, following the tang thickness. It's 16mm wide at the front (first rivet) & 15.1mm at the rear (very end).

                               
                              1. re: Eiron
                                kaleokahu Jan 1, 2011 06:46 PM

                                Eiron: Interesting. Can you measure the interior angle at the bolster/scale interface? It would be interesting to see if it's slightly off from square to the true axis of the blade. Or put another way, it would be interesting to see if the bolster was slightly undercut to allow even-thick and square-cut scales to fit up tight.

                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                  Eiron Jan 3, 2011 08:05 AM

                                  I'm attaching an enlargement of the bolster/scale interface.

                                  It appears as though the intent was to have the back edge of the bolster square to the axis. This picture is looking down onto the spine of the knife. The left side (bottom of the picture) is square to the axis, but the right side (top of the picture) is undercut slightly & filled with epoxy between the bolster & scale.

                                  If I were to flip the knife over (looking down onto the cutting edge of the knife) it exhibits the same pattern (square on the bottom & undercut on the top, w/epoxy fill). So, both scales have a slight mis-fit/epoxy-fill at diagonally opposite edges/corners. This tells me that whoever prepped the knife for scales held it at the same misaligned angle on both sides.

                                   
                                  1. re: Eiron
                                    Chemicalkinetics Jan 3, 2011 12:44 PM

                                    So it seems it is the steel (knife tang) being overcut. What is interesting is (as you said), the errors are not on the same side. Rather the errors are diagonally opposite. Regardless, it is a minor problem I think. It still looks like a good knife to me.

                                    1. re: Eiron
                                      kaleokahu Jan 3, 2011 01:08 PM

                                      Eiron: "This tells me that whoever prepped the knife for scales held it at the same misaligned angle on both sides."

                                      Yes. Also a pretty good bet that all the scales are cut to the same dimension, and any gap-osis gets a little slobber of colored epoxy, rather than starting with oversized and hand fitting each scale.

                  2. re: kaleokahu
                    Chemicalkinetics Dec 29, 2010 06:19 PM

                    Kaleokahu,

                    True. Bob Kramer is one of the 100+ ABS (American Bladesmith Society) master bladesmiths, and one may even take your argument further and say that not all great blade smiths are ABS masters. For example, there are many good Japanese blademasters, but they are not ABS masters.

                    That being said. I think the argument for Bob Kramer is that he is only the very few ABS masters who specialize kitchen knives (as opposed to surivial and hunting knives), and Bob is (may be) the only one who had worked as a chef/cook. Therefore, the argument is that he knows what works and what does not work for a chef/cook.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      kaleokahu Dec 29, 2010 07:16 PM

                      Chem: You're absolutely right about the certification not being a necessary and sufficient condition for a good blade. There are many excellent knifemakers who've never moved steel with a hammer, choosing only stock-relief. A sizable number of ABS masters have, IMO, very non-functional ideas of blade geometries--one has only to leaf through one of the "Knives Annual" volumes to see who has or hasn't got the "Eye". Bob has it.

                      "[T]he argument is that he knows what works and what does not work for a chef/cook." Perhaps it is a necessary condition to have cooked a lot or already used knives a lot to develop the Eye for the profiles in cooking knives. But most of the rest of it is production technique and craft.

                      Maybe you know... When Shun says its Kramers are "hand made", what do they mean? Certainly they don't mean each blank is hand forged. There is a uniformity and identicality about them that shouts "CNC" to me. And are ALL the bevels ground by hand? I'm thinking that they're hand-FINISHED, otherwise there would be some irregularities.

                      1. re: kaleokahu
                        Chemicalkinetics Dec 29, 2010 07:55 PM

                        Kaleokahu,

                        You are absolutely correct. I cannot image any of the Shun knives are really hand-made. Maybe the knife bevels are ground by hand as you said, but then I have seen videos of the inexpensive Dexter-Russell knives ground by hand on a grinding wheels, so it really does not say much. In short, I have no idea what "hand-made" means, but like you, I doubt it is anything more than hand-finished.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          Eiron Dec 29, 2010 10:30 PM

                          Kaleo, most of the W-S pages for Shun Classic products have the same Shun promotional manufacturing video attached to them. It doesn't give a complete picture of the process, but it does show many of the hand working/finishing steps being performed on the Kaji, Classic & Onion knives. (I'd love to have one of those motorized horizontal water stones, but that vertical stone looks like a royal PITA!)
                          http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/shun-classic-chefs-knife/?pkey=cchefs-santoku-knives%7Ccutchfchf

                          There's also this promotional video from Yaxell:
                          http://www.yaxell.co.jp/english/index...
                          It gives a much more complete picture of what "hand made" means in a factory-produced Japanese knife. (You'll have to sit thru the talking during the first 1/4 of the video.) I'd guess that all of the major manufacturers of "hand made" factory-production knives use similar blends of worker/machine interaction.
                          (My favorite parts are the worker straightening the blade by eye, & the gentleman at the "jewler's anvil" scribing the kanji with a single chisel tool.)

                  3. d
                    dessert_diva Dec 29, 2010 10:35 AM

                    Funny about the handles on the Sur la Table Kramer, because I had the exact opposite reaction; I love a substantial "voluptuous" handle and hate the straight slim ones. For instance I picked up a Global and couldn't wait to put the thing down because it felt so weird/wrong in my hand. That said, I have always had Euro knives before (Henckels, Sabatier) and so for me the Sur la T Kramer was like one of those but on steroids. :D

                    We do agree wholeheartedly on the beauty of the blades and how the photos simply don't do them justice. :)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: dessert_diva
                      Eiron Dec 29, 2010 10:46 AM

                      Oddly (or maybe not?), my wife also thought the Euro handles felt better than any others. And we tried ALL of the other Shun lines (as well as the several Miyabi lines, & the Ikons) offered at both stores! Her hands are smaller than mine, but she doesn't pinch-grip.

                      I think it must be my saber fencing experience that steers me towards smaller diameter handles? In that sport, you control the blade (especially the way-out-there tip) with small grip changes using your pinky & ring fingers. I find that I prefer kitchen knives that I can control with similar grip changes.

                      Yes, those blades.... 8-D ....just like frozen mercury!

                      1. re: Eiron
                        Chemicalkinetics Dec 29, 2010 11:44 AM

                        "she doesn't pinch-grip"

                        I think that explains it. A pinch grip and a full grip (death grip) give different feel. A paring knife will show this difference.

                    2. cowboyardee Dec 29, 2010 10:57 AM

                      Thanks for the review. How was the weight and thickness and grind of the Meiji line compared to your Kanetsune gyuto?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: cowboyardee
                        Eiron Dec 29, 2010 01:48 PM

                        Weight: 8" Meiji is much heavier than the 8.3" wood handled KC-102, & even heavier than the 8.3" POM handled KC-202.
                        Thickness: I wasn't conciously comparing my Kanetsune to any of the knives I was looking at, but thinking back on it I'd say the Meiji is thicker at the spine. Of course, the blade is taller than that of my Kanetsune.
                        Grind: Very similar; I think both Shun & Kanetsune have settled on nearly identical grinds for their Western-market knives.

                      2. Chemicalkinetics Dec 29, 2010 11:57 AM

                        Excellent review. Thanks Eiron. I am surprise that even the Meji knife has too much of a knife belly. Yeah, the Euro knife handle looks big (for me) from the photos. Think about all other knives are waiting for you to bring them home. Now, you have $400 you can buy another knife. Maybe a Hiromoto Aogami Super (AS) gyuto ($200), maybe a Ryusen Blazen powder steel gyuto ($200)... who the new Ryusen Tsuchime Damascus looks kind of nice too:

                        http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/RyusenTsuchimeDamascusSeries.html

                        what about the coreless knives?

                        http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/SPE...

                        Unfortunately, it will be difficult for you to try these knives before buying them. :)

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          Chemicalkinetics Dec 29, 2010 01:38 PM

                          Just came across this. Thought it is kinda of funny and who knows, maybe you will be interested in it:

                          http://www.chefknivestogo.com/riknad2...

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            Eiron Dec 29, 2010 02:29 PM

                            LOL, yeah, more cash for new knives! I do like the looks of those coreless knives, but I think I like wood handles too much to go all stainless. The Ryusen Tsuchime looks great too, much nicer than a lot of the tsuchime we saw coming out in the spring & summer this year.

                            Alas, my unspent ducats are destined for greater aspirations! I'm buying/building a 1x42 belt grinder that I'll use to help build my 2x72 belt grinder (along with the small drill press I bought). Parts & materials for both grinders will cost me about two Shun Kramers. (Yes, I'm using them as monetary denominations!) :-)

                            This afternoon I'm going to start building my dust collection system to keep the metal grinding debris from going EVERYWHERE while I'm working. (Oh yeah, I also need to wire up the 1x42's motor.) I've already got my "practice" steel pieces ready to go as soon as I can get the 1x42 here & together. I'll be using oak scraps for the handles.

                            Of course, I'll want to send around a few early test pieces for comments & suggestions. Any idea how to exchange emails here? I haven't found any PM function.

                            1. re: Eiron
                              Chemicalkinetics Dec 29, 2010 05:32 PM

                              :) Like you said, there is no PM function here. I believe CHOW intentionally omits this it is not part of its vision.

                              Obviously we would love to test your knives. People like cowboyardee, scubadoo97 and kaleokahu would be great candidates for the first-go of the knife rotation. Cowboyardee and scubadoo97 have vast experience handling many different knives, so they will have better reference points. Cowboyardee have help sharpened many knives from his friends, so he has experienced more knives than most people. I know scubadoo97 know a lot, but I don't know how he acquired his knowledge. Kaleokahu would be great because he is/was a knife maker. Right, Kaleokahu?

                              I believe the CHOW moderator(s) once suggested that we temporarily put our email addresses in our profiles for others to reach us. Let us know when you need to reach us, and we will put up our email addresses for 1-2 days in our profiles :)

                              It is pretty funny that you used Shun Kramers knives as monetary denominations, but shouldn't you use a knife you actually like as a common denomincations? Like your Kanetsune or Shun Classic. Yeah, I agree. You should save the money for the tools -- more important.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                kaleokahu Dec 29, 2010 07:41 PM

                                Chem & Eiron: Sure, let me know if I can be of help.

                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                  cowboyardee Dec 29, 2010 08:30 PM

                                  Me too

                                  1. re: cowboyardee
                                    cannibal Dec 29, 2010 08:50 PM

                                    i want to jump on this too, though my skill and experience is nothing comparable to the others here. if there are "leftovers" i'd love to help :)

                                    1. re: cannibal
                                      Eiron Dec 29, 2010 10:35 PM

                                      In that case, what I'll plan to do is publish my own email to my profile when I've got something to send around. That way, people can simply contact me if they're interested, & anyone who wants to get on the list can do so w/o having to display their own info.

                              2. re: Eiron
                                kaleokahu Dec 30, 2010 05:13 PM

                                Eiron: "I'm going to start building my dust collection system to keep the metal grinding debris from going EVERYWHERE while I'm working."

                                Here're a few unsolicited tips: (1) Consider some sort of soapy water trap for the sparks and grit right under your wheels; (2) have a "clean room" completely isolated from your machines; and (3) buy a good, full-face respirator--lots of the exotic hardwoods are toxic. You may know all this already, but no reason to keep the fireman and pulmonologist busy.

                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                  Eiron Jan 1, 2011 12:54 PM

                                  Kaleokahu, THANK YOU very much for any experience you'd like to share! Although I have quite a bit of manufacturing engineering experience, most of my hands-on work was done years ago & I consider myself a "babe in the woods" for this new venture. Like many of us here, I tend to run towards OCD-ness when trying to make things. So I can easily focus on a mundane detail & ignore a more vital, safety-critical point.

                                  1) I was planning to have my vacuum system installed below my wheels. Will a water trap catch the majority of debris, making the vacuum system unnecessary?

                                  2) Which tasks are you recommending for a separate clean area? Initially, space will be extremely limited. I plan to have metal & wood shaping done in an area away from any living space, & then finishing work (handle attachment & polishing?) done in the basement.

                                  3) Check! I bought one of these (with the replaceable filter cartridges) when I picked up the drill press earlier this year.

                                  Thanks again for the help. At this stage, most of what I know is that I don't know very much!

                                  1. re: Eiron
                                    kaleokahu Jan 1, 2011 07:23 PM

                                    Eiron: You're very welcome.

                                    (1) I think you'll need both, but the trap catches the big hot bits (and sparks). A relatively narrow pan you can straddle works pretty well, and you can use it to dunk-cool the blank when you're really leaning on the wheel and the blank gets too toasty to hold onto. It also can save you a toe if you catch and throw something. :)

                                    (2) Pretty much everything other than grinding, drilling, sanding and buffing. If you'll be making sheaths, nothing's worse than pulling several feet of saddle stitches with white thread and then realizing your thread got dirtied with rouge grit. Same with having your scales debond because your tangs picked up dust. Or grit in your epoxy. Or getting dust on your wet finish (the mistakes here are truly endless).

                                    Since you said you're building your grinders, here's another tip: When you get to making up your platens, face them with tempered glass--they'll wear for years, and then you just replace the glass.

                                    Oh, and one more, since you're good at looking things up. There was a guy named Bob Engnath, a decent maker, but an absolute Michelangelo with grinding. Bob loved grinding so much he stopped making anything other than a 100+ selection of semi-finished kit blanks. Bob passed away 5-7 years ago. but he wrote a really good monograph on grinding and other -making aspects. I know you'd get a running start from it if you can scare up a copy. Example: no one tells you to break the edges of a new belt first thing--most people have to sever nerves in their fingertips before they learn this lesson, but Bob gives good warning about this.

                                    1. re: kaleokahu
                                      Eiron Jan 3, 2011 07:52 AM

                                      Thanks again!

                                      I'll be building the 2x72 completely, & plan on using a glass cover on the platen. The 1x42 will be partially built when I get it so I'll have to see what kind of adjustments I can make to add the glass.

                                      Do you have any tricks for attaching the glass, outside of some type of epoxy? (JB Weld or other?)

                                      1. re: Eiron
                                        kaleokahu Jan 3, 2011 10:21 AM

                                        Eiron: Just epoxy.

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