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Apr 30, 2013 08:14 AM

Kramer Hinoki cutting boards-worth it?

I'm tempted by the new Kramer Hinoki and Walnut cutting boards
But they're $300-$400. Crazy, right?

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  1. Yes, crazy, but isn't this the Kramer who sells thousand dollar cook's knives? In my opinion, nobody needs a thousand dollar knife except a professional sushi master, and nobody needs a $400 cutting board, period. This isn't about "worth," it's about people with a lot of money to throw around showing off. Just my opinion, of course.

    6 Replies
    1. re: GH1618

      Well, arguably the Kramer knives are "worth it" since he is a master bladesmith and they're all custom made. But he doesn't make the boards, and though they're really lovely, it's hard to justify that kind of money for a hinoki board. On the other hand, my current bamboo board is driving me nuts 'cause my knives keep sticking into it.

      1. re: strangemd

        I understand the "worth it" argument from this perspective (master bladesmith/custom made), but guys like Carter and Takeda are every bit the master bladesmiths, and their knives are just as custom, and their knives are 1/20th to 1/10th the price of Kramer's. I suspect that Kramer's knives do not necessarily cut better or balance better in the hand that those of other master bladesmiths, so in this sense the value of his knives is attached primarily to his 'celebrity status' as a bladesmith (and maybe, to a lesser extent, to the blade as art.)

        1. re: jljohn

          When you get into the artistry of custom products, though, I think that's a different matter than that posed by the OP. I may pay a few hundred or a few thousand dollars for a work of art that just hangs on my wall. It's value is subjective. But it will not be used up (if I care for it properly), and it may eventually have a resale value higher than what I paid for it. If so, it certainly was "worth it."

          Some knives may be like that, perhaps a custom Kramer, but perhaps not the $1000 Kramers sold by SLT.

          I took the OP's question here to apply to a cutting board intended to be used. It is artistry, but will the purchaser hang it on the wall to look at? If he does, will its value hold up or appreciate? Perhaps he will keep it on his counter, but swap it for a less expensive board when he is actually working in the kitchen. Then the value is as art, and is subjective.

          If the board is an actual tool, however, then "worth it" means that it will do the job it is intended to do, and be no more expensive (and perhaps less expensive) in the long run. An inexpensive cutting board is not "worth it" if it delaminates and is thrown out and replaced. It is "worth it" to pay more for a cutting board which will last a lifetime. It's economics.

          So, artistic questions aside, I would want to know how this board compares to an ordinary (but well-made) hardwood cutting board of similar size for function and cost. Then, whatever premium is paid for the artistry of board in question (taking into account that it may decline in value as it is used) is a purely subjective matter.

          1. re: GH1618

            < It is artistry, but will the purchaser hang it on the wall to look at?>

            Artistry, maybe. Traditional, not.

      2. re: GH1618

        Last I checked, a thousand doesn't even get you close. This is pretty typical, and it's for only an 8":

        His 10" knives can sell for upward of $10k.

        1. re: GH1618

          Hi, GH:

          But wait! That thin $400 board comes with a FREE tube of "board cream". Makes all the difference in the world, don't you think?

          Bob used to call his second location Big Pants Ranch. Now I think I know why. Gear includes t-shirts, ballcaps and temporary Kramer tattoos. Expect the Kramer Gold Mastercard any time now...


        2. To reply to the OP directly, unless you believe that Hinoki offers you something that you cannot get from Mahogany, Maple, Walnut, or Cherry, I'd go to The Boardsmith and get a thicker board for 1/2 the price. Or check out this guys boards: If I really wanted a hinoki board, I'd look for a less expensive option elsewhere.

          In the end, a 1.5" board is not very thick, especially when you add a groove. I can't believe it will hold up as well as a thicker board made out of one material in a solid brickwork pattern. And Kramer doesn't make these boards either--he just stamps his name on them, so I don't think they are worth it.

          My personal take is that, if I wasn't terribly concerned about the money, Nils over at Brooklyn Butcher Block makes some of the prettiest boards I've seen. But The Boardsmith makes boards that are functionally the same for a fantastic price. I've had my 12"x18"x2" Maple board from him for a while now, and I love it. And I think it cost about $115 delivered.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jljohn

            Yes, I think you're right. It was just eye candy and you folks have saved me. I'm certainly not interested in hanging the board on a wall, but in daily use. Actually, most of my knives are Takedas, with which I am very very happy. I could not afford or justify the purchase of a custom Kramer, but they are purty.

          2. Hinoki boards are prized by sushi chefs in Japan. However, not everyone need one and not everyone can take advantage of it. Even if you want a Hinoki board, which is not cheap, there are probably less expensive options.

            More to the point, if you really want a Hinoki board, then it should be a single wood piece.





            10 Replies
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              The one from SLT seems reasonable, if you have to have a Hinoki board. Is the groove traditional for a sushi board?

              I think the Kramer board needs a chess board pattern to reach its highest and best use.

              1. re: GH1618

                I thought both the Shun and the Miyabi ones look good. I don't believe groove is traditional for a sushi board.

                <I think the Kramer board needs a chess board pattern to reach its highest and best use.>

                Is best use = play checker?

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Chess. The Kramer board looks like a chess board without the pattern. You can play checkers too, of course.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    <You can play checkers too, of course.>

                    Very universal.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Chem-the problem with your linked boards is that they are both thinner and quite a bit smaller than the Kramer boards. I want something at least 1.5" in thickness, and probably 24" x 18," or 18x18 minimum. If you compare to the Brooklyn Butcher Block boards that jljohn linked (which look beautiful, by the way), you begin to realize that the Kramer boards are actually not that overpriced for what you get. Probably only about 25% more than the Brookyln Butcher Block boards, which are in walnut or maple.

                1. re: strangemd

                  Hi Strangemd,

                  You are correct that the Kramer board is larger.

                  Let me rephrase what I said. If you are looking for a typical large end-grain cutting board made by a custom wood worker, then it is fine. You may want to look into BoardSmith or even Boos.


                  Now if you want to get the board because it is a Hinoki board and that Hinoki is prized by traditional Japanese chefs (especially sushi chef), then I like want to point out that this board is not what a traditional Hinoki board should be. A traditional Hinoki board actually looks like this:



                  It should be single piece and it is not end-grain. I am sure whatever you choose will work for you, just want to add some information. Good luck shopping.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    That massive board in the Vanity Fair pic looks amazing. I can't access the other link (says: Forbidden?)
                    But thanks for your feedback. My current thick butcher block has warped over the last 20 years, and my bamboo board annoys me, so I'll take a look at boardsmith for a replacement, though I might do the Brooklyn Butcher Block thing to support my local industry. Still tempted by the Hinoki, but don't want to spend that much money for a "name" of someone who doesn't even make them himself.

                    1. re: strangemd

                      <I can't access the other link (says: Forbidden?)>

                      The other is much larger. :)

                      One last thing. The Hinoki is a soft wood. Some will tell you that you should only get hardwood like maple or cherry...etc. I don't buy that. Soft wood seems to be a popular choice among Eastern Asian culture. The Japanese and Chinese use soft wood cutting boards. The Chinese:



                      So I don't think it is necessary a bad thing for "spend that much money for a "name" of someone who doesn't even make them himself.". Afterall, do you really want a board made by Bob Kramer -- who is not a wood worker. Do you want Kobe Byrant to paint your house? If the board is good, then it is good. However, it is important to decide if you want a hard wood board or a soft wood board.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        For your pleasure (from the link you could not access). Enjoy.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I only wish I had a kitchen big enough for that board.

              3. Why such a thick board? I have a thick Boos but only because I am very tall ( I even put feet on it) I am not a fan of the ultra hard wood boards though..I find they tend to dull my knives a bit faster.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Diving Chef

                  Do you mean, why are the traditional Hinoki Sushi boards so thick or why are we we recommending 2"+ for an end grain board generally?

                  I cannot speak to the former, although I suspect it's (1) because it's basically just half a tree cut top to bottom, laid on its side, and flattened so as not to wobble, and (2) to allow for periodic smoothing on the cutting surface and still last for years.

                  Regarding the latter, my experience is that thinner boards are more prone to warping and to joint failure than thicker boards. Every board I've ever owned that were 1.5" and thinner, eventually warped, split, or suffered joint failure. I've not seen any such problems with my 2" or 4" boards.

                2. Well, the're sold out so I guess it doesn't really matter. "Worth it" is a relative question, will a $400 board be noticably better in some way than a $200 board or a $100 board. I'm not sure how much better Hinoki is than maple as a cutting surface.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mikie

                    Hinoki is a bit softer and allegedly easier on your knives. Also, it's felt to have superior anti-bacterial properties because of the cypress oils (whether that's true or not, I can't say).
                    I ended up going for the walnut end-grain from Brooklyn Butcher Block, which actually cost only a bit less than the Kramer boards. Support my local artisans.