Bob Kramer – Washington
Bob Kramer has a fun background. He started out as a clown with Ringling Brothers. Then he spent 10 years working in professional kitchens around the country. Then he ran a mobile knife sharpening business in the back of an old mail truck, driving from restaurant to restaurant. He would ask them to give him their most damaged knives with the promise “if he didn’t make them better than new, you don’t have to pay.” Bob always was paid. And his passion was born.
Of course to better understand how to sharpen blades, he needed to understand how knives are made. He saw an ad for a local Bladesmith School and he signed up. Bob entered the primitive world of heating and hammering hot steel and learned to make knives that surpassed any that he had ever sharpened. The art of sharpening knives was no longer enough, Bob had to make them. He felt a need to make better knives for the world he knew – kitchens.
After years of training Bob became a Master Smith through the American Bladesmith Society (ABS) in 1997. He is also the only ABS Master Smith who focuses exclusively on making kitchen knives, devoting his time to the single-minded pursuit of crafting the perfect kitchen knife.
Soon after becoming a Master Smith, a colleague from the food world asked to do a profile on Bob for Saveur Magazine. When the article hit the stands in March of 1998, he was shocked by the response. This was the start of an almost 4 year back order that lasted nearly 10 years.
Somewhere in his journey, Bob came across the Japanese concept of Kaizen. It is the idea of “improvement” – that by focusing on improving a product or process by our attention to detail, and being present, we are also changing. In his shop he uses Kaizen to mean The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence. Every day he asks, “how can we do this better?”
Today, Bob Kramer knives are a combination of old-fashioned craftsmanship, artistry, and modern technology. They are made entirely in his shop in Olympia, WA. There is such a demand for his handmade knives that Bob has had to get creative with his selling process. Custom orders–made with customer design specifics–are accepted through a lottery system. Custom knives of Bob’s design are offered by auction on his website, with each knife starting at an opening bid of $100 and selling for thousands of dollars at auction’s end.
Luckily Bob’s designs have been licensed to be handcrafted in Japan by Zwilling J.A. Henckels. So instead of paying thousands of dollars for a handmade one, you can pay between $100 – $500 for a Bob Kramer Zwilling knife through Sur La Table.
Bob Kramer Euro Design
Bob’s ‘old school meets new school’ design is balanced perfectly with deep blades and comfortable handles. The handle is designed to be comfortable for long sessions in the kitchen; it’s a bit larger, with more heft and knuckle clearance. The heel is rounded and polished for comfort. These are the most common European inspired blades that he makes: paring, utility, steak, boning, chef, slicer, breaker, bread knife and sauté fork.
Buy Bob Kramer Knives at Sur La Table
Bob Kramer Meiji Design
These knives are designed to have the ease of a Western knife with the beauty of Japanese aesthetic. They have a double taper grind and are symmetrical. From the traditional Japanese D-shaped handle, the distinct finger ridge can be customized for right and left hand users. The most common Japanese inspired blades that Bob makes are Santoku, Nikiri, Yanagi and Usuba.
Buy Bob Kramer Knives at Sur La Table
Bob Kramer Meteorite Knife video
If you haven’t seen Bob Kramer in action, he goes through his full process for an Anthony Bourdain knife making episode of Raw Craft, a show that takes behind the scenes looks inside the workshops of some of the most talented, creative and hardworking craftspeople in America.
Bob Kramer Contact Information