Bob Kramer

Master Bladesmith

After 10 years working in professional kitchens, you would think Bob knew the secret of keeping my knives sharp. He didn't. After noticing that the other ch ...read more

After 10 years working in professional kitchens, you would think Bob knew the secret of keeping my knives sharp. 

He didn't. 

After noticing that the other chefs had the same problem, he saw an opportunity. The quest to learn how to best sharpen knives consumed him. He bought a ticket and traveled the country in search of learning the art of sharpening. Upon returning to Seattle, Bob started a sharpening business in the back of an old mail truck and drove from restaurant to restaurant. He'd ask them to give their most damaged knives with the promise "if I don't make them better than new, you don't have to pay." Bob always got paid.

To better understand how to sharpen, Bob needed to understand how knives are made. An ad for Bladesmith School opened the door to the next level. The class felt like stepping back 2000 years in time. The primitive world of beating on hot steel and making tools that surpassed any knives he had ever sharpened was fantastically alluring — and the of sharpening knives was no longer enough. Bob had to make knives. 

That was 1994. Since then Bob has become one of 120 Master Bladesmiths in the US. To earn this title from the American Bladesmith Society, one must undergo years of study and then pass a Master's Test. The test required building a 10" Bowie knife made of 300+ layers of steel. This one knife had to cut through a 1" free hanging rope in one swing, chop through a two-by-four twice, shave a swatch of arm hair (after the two-by-four), and finally, bend the blade at a 90 degree angle without the blade breaking. If you succeed, then you submit five flawless knives (including a 15th century Quillion dagger, a very difficult knife to make) to a panel of judges.

On the heels of becoming a Master Bladesmith, a colleague from the food world asked to do a profile for Saveur Magazine. When the article hit the stands in March of 1998, it launched what became an almost 4 year back order lasting nearly 10 years. Bob has devoted his life to the single-minded pursuit of crafting the perfect kitchen knife, and is grateful to those who appreciate his work. Kramer knives are a combination of old-fashioned craftsmanship, artistry, and modern technology. They are made entirely in Bob's shop here in Olympia, Washington.

Videos

Bob Kramer, Master Bladesmith (EG10)

Raw Craft with Anthony Bourdain - Episode Four: Bob Kramer

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