Video: Master Bladesmith Bob Kramer Visits PopSci to Show Off His Chops

Sooooo smooth!

Kramer Versus Coke Can

Paul Adams

Handmade according to an exacting process, Kramer chef's knives sell for $10,000 or more. They're beloved by chefs and collectors for their keen edges, thoughtful design, and beautiful finish, and demand is such (a New Yorker profile never hurts) that anyone who wants to buy one must now sign up for a lottery in which you can win a spot on the years-long waiting list for a knife.

But Kramer fans are about to have an easier time of it: Bob was in New York this month to announce a new partnership. I took advantage of the visit to pull him into the PopSci video chamber so he could demonstrate dramatically just how effective his knives are.

The knife he's wielding in the video is not one of the hand-forged beauties, but a mass-produced Kramer. Zwilling J.A. Henckels, one of the largest knifemaking companies in the world, has just put into production a line of Kramer-designed knives, which are made of the same high-carbon 52100 tool steel as the basic line of handmade ones.

I recommend watching this full-screen.

Pretty impressive. And he was also very helpful when it came to sponging down the video room afterward!

(If you enjoyed that, you might enjoy watching Theo Gray cut steel with a blowtorch made of bacon.)

The majority of kitchen knives nowadays are made of stainless steel, which requires little maintenance since the presence of chromium in the alloy resists corrosion. But, as Kramer explains, stainless knives are difficult to sharpen, and the edge they have even when they are maximally sharp is limited in its keenness by the molecular structure of the metal. The Kramer knives are made of a non-stainless high-carbon steel with relatively little chromium, which makes them delightfully easy to sharpen, and when they're sharp they're very sharp.

Kramer, a certified Master Bladesmith, is hardly putting himself out of business with the Henckels deal. He plans to concentrate his efforts now on making his Damascus steel knives, in which different types of steel are folded and layered thousands of times to create intricate patterns; these works of art are not amenable to mass production.

Damascus Chef's Knife by Bob Kramer

Bob Kramer

The mass-produced knives, which are made at Zwilling's facility in Seki City, Japan, will be available at Sur La Table in June, and elsewhere in September. Use only as directed.