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Jul 27, 2014 12:42 PM

Bob Kramer Essential Knives: Anyone bought one?

A couple years back, Bob Kramer, probably the most famous US kitchen knife maker, teamed up with Henckels to launch the Bob Kramer knives.

I noticed the Bob Kramer Essential Knives by Zwilling Henckels. These are stainless steel knives with the blade hardened to HRC 61.

The Bob Kramer Essential 8" by Henckels is $200, which is pretty standard comparing to a lot of higher end commercial knives.

A Miyabi Artisan SG2 8" chef knife is $200. A Wusthof Ikon Blackwood 8" chef knife is $200. A Shun Premier 8" is $180. A Konosuke HD2 210 mm knife costs $230.

So what do you think? Are the Bob Kramer Essential knives well worth the price? Or do you think they are nothing special beside the Bob Kramer name? If you have ~$200 to spare for a knife, will Bob Kramer Essential your top choice?

More importantly, anyone bought it? What do you think?

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  1. My guess is that Zwilling will be discontinuing the Kramer carbon steel line and that the Essential line would take its place. The general aversion to CS knives is, I suspect, making it hard for SLT to sell them. Two of the SLT locations near me have replaced CS with E, and no longer carry the CS line.

    I would consider the CS but not the E because I've heard good things about the 52100 CS steel, and know nothing about the steel used in E.

    I would also consider a Kramer custom (see above) if I had $5,000+ to drop on a knife.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jimonyc

      The carbon steel line is now an online-only item for most SLT customers, remaining only in top-market stores.

      1. re: jimonyc

        Thanks. When Bob Kramer first partnered with Zwilling Henckels, I believe all those series were carbon steel only. I thought at the time that it would be difficult to convince many home cooks to switch from stainless steel to carbon steel -- especially for a >$300.

        The Kramer custom you listed above look nice. Which one are you more into? The so called Euro style (top and bottom) or the Asian style (middle)?

        <I would also consider a Kramer custom (see above) if I had $5,000+ to drop on a knife>

        Has the Kramer custom raisen to $5000 now? I thought it was $2000-3000. Anyway, I was just about to comment about this Henckels Bob Kramer Damascus knife for $1900:

        This price may make more sense now that Bob Kramer's real custom knife is $4000-5000.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          What I've heard is that Kramer no longer takes custom orders on non-damascus blades, which were made with 52100 and less expensive then the damascus. So I think the $5,000+ is pretty much the starting point these days. But I haven't researched Kramer customs recently.

          His Euro style is interesting to me because I like really like wide blades for my chef's knives (his 8" is about 60mm at the heel, which is extreme by most standards). Not crazy about the Asian inspired handles, if only for aesthetic reasons.

          I like the look of the $1,900 special edition, but the 52100 @$300 will likely be as far as I go, as far as Kramers.

      2. The reviews over at the knife forums have been decent. But I haven't bought one.

        I did try the original 52100 version out (not the Essential line) and wrote about it here:
        Chem, you responded at the time, so this is nothing new for you. But I figured it's pertinent to the thread, so I might as well post it.

        My gut reaction is that it's probably a decent knife for the money and a perfectly reasonable buy if you like the particular feel and profile. There are a lot of good knives in the $200 range though.

        ETA: I still think FC 61 is a dumb name for the steel. Word on the street is that it's 13c26 or AEB-L, and that it performs well. But I don't know why Henckels chooses to be cryptic and/or misleading about their steels, especially when they're using perfectly good steels in the first place.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cowboyardee

          Thanks cowboy,

          I vaguely remember your review of the original 52100 knife. Thanks for bring it up. Yeah, I also read that FC61 is probably AEB-L or 13c26.

          <But I don't know why Henckels chooses to be cryptic and/or misleading about their steels>

          I begin to think these cryptic words are not for people who are knowledgeable about knives -- like Eiron, you or so many others. I think it is more of a marketing strategy. This will help distinguish these knives from others. They can always market it as a "one of a kind special" steel.

          Let's see if these knives will get picked up. I don't believe the original Zwilling Henckels Bob Kramer carbon steel knives sell very well.

        2. I bought the $399ish Kramer/Henckels (perhaps this one for $349) from CKTG. The rivets protruded so much that I returned it. Saw it in person at SLT more than a year later, with the same problem. Even though this wasn't the 'essential' line, I'd say feel it in person before spending the $s!

          4 Replies
          1. re: danlind3

            Yeah, I remember you said that the Fit and Finish for your Kramer knife wasn't very good.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Good memory! So it's weird they are still like that. I'd hope Kramer would insist on good QC. CKTG no longer sells Kramer knives, but I'm not sure QC is the reason.

            2. re: danlind3

              The Carbon line had a massive problem with the rivets. Every model I ever felt had rough, sharp edges - almost like the wood of the handle had shrunk.

              The Damascus and Essential lines, having synthetic handles, (linen micarta and POM plastic, respectively) seem to have a much more consistent, smooth finish with the rivets.

              Combine that with the fact that the Carbon line rusts if you look at it wrong and I can see why most SLT stores no longer carry it.

              1. re: ProfessorBear

                < that the Carbon line rusts if you look at it wrong >

                That bad huh?

              1. Handles suffering from significant shrinkage is a problem - would return a knife whether it cost $400 or $40.

                On the other hand if it happens to be knife I really want, I may decide it's worth spending the extra $ to have someone re-handle the knife with a material of my choice; an opportunity to make the knife really stand out.

                (Image is of the work of Dan O'Malley.)