Bob Kramer Essential Collection Chef’s Knives by Zwilling J.A. Henckels
Designed by master bladesmith Bob Kramer, the Essential Collection features the quality and performance of Kramer knives in a package that’s easily accessible to home cooks.
Each knife has been optimized for kitchen use thanks to a wide blade for increased knuckle clearance, a rounded spine for added comfort, and a triple-riveted handle for secure, easy cutting.
Each knife draws on Seki City, Japan’s wealth of knife-making experience and undergoes a rigorous 42-day manufacturing process that involves 45 expert artisans and 100 distinct steps. As a finishing touch, each knife receives a central mosaic pin handcrafted in Bob Kramer’s personal studio. Built to withstand the pressures of everyday use in busy kitchens, this is one knife that will be with you for years to come.
Shop all Bob Kramer »
- Designed by ABS-certified Master Bladesmith Bob Kramer, the first Master Bladesmith to specialize in kitchen cutlery, the Essential Collection offers our best value ever on a line of Kramer knives
- Constructed from revolutionary FC61 steel, which features fine-carbide distribution and 61 Rockwell hardness for a razor-sharp, easy-to-maintain edge
- Fine-carbide distribution results in a blade that holds an incredibly sharp angle
- Double Friodur hardening improves the microstructure of the steel for improved cutting performance, corrosion resistance and increased durability
- Blade is extra-wide, so your knuckles don’t impact the cutting board, and features a rounded spine for comfortable pinch gripping
- Brushed polymer handles are hand-ground and feature a complex curvature that mirrors the palm for a secure, supremely comfortable grip
- Manufacturer: Zwilling J.A. Henckels
- Material: High-carbon stainless steel, polymer (POM)
- Warranty: Lifetime warranty
- Made in Japan
Care & Usage Show
- Hand wash only
This is truly and incredible knife.
First, I absolutely love the look of it. Very sleek and modern, yet classic. Looks amazing in the kitchen and the matte black handle is very professional looking.
The handle is super comfortable, and feels really smooth in my hand. I could honestly chop for hours with this knife. I love that it features Kramer's Euro Handle design and Zwilling nailed it in production - the handle feels incredible.
This new blade steel is ridiculously sharp and seems to be really tough as well. I've been using this knife heavily for a couple of weeks and the edge is perfect. It's tackled all different types of vegetables, whole chickens, prepped steaks, minced lots of herbs and garlic, and even broken down a few pineapples, all with ease.
For the $200 price range there isn't another knife out there that can even touch the quality, performance, and design of Kramer Essential.
Highly, highly recommend
To explain the four stars instead of the five: the edge of my copy has about an inch of mis-grind at the heel (end towards the handle). If I tilt it, I can see it is ground a slightly different angle than the first of the edge. It does not really affect performance, more ore a nuisance.
The profile of the knife is a bit more aggressive than a a typical German style may take a little time to get used to. It is tall at the heel and steeply curved overall. One either needs to either exaggerate the rocking motion a bit more when chopping fine herbs or use the flatter sweet spot closer to the heel of the knife.
This knife is very thin overall, I measured it to be about 2mm on the spine at the heel and it quickly tapes to a very thin tip. The grind is convex and very thin behind the edge. The thinness is a good thing: I tried both this knife and the Damascus steel version of the Kramer knife in store. Though being more beautiful and twice as expensive, the Damascus steel version requires ever so slightly more effort to cut a carrot as (I must stress ever so slightly, as both are excellent knife) due to being thicker and heavier overall. However, since the edge is ground so thinly, I actually have been hesitating to split winter squash or lobster with this.
Out of the box, the edge is very sharp and can easily push cut folded magazine paper, but it would not shave hair. Cutting through tomato is a breeze and I can make translucent slices of carrot with this. However, the factory edge seems to be a bit coarse: it looks like it is finished with a 1000 grit sharpening surface.
After about 1 month of moderate home cook usage and maintained with a leather strop, the knife got to a point where it would not easily push cut cherry tomato. I took it to a 8000 grit Japanese waterstone and after about 10 pass per side, I was able to refine the factory edge to a hair shaving level.
Overall, I am very happy with this knife. It looks gorgeous and maintains its sharpness well, and it is easy to sharpen. It should last a lifetime with the proper maintenance.
Questions & Answers
The Damascus and the Carbon Steel knives are clearly superior. Both take and hold the sharpest edges I have ever worked with, and I have previously used Sabatier, Wustoff, and Henkels as my go-to cutlery. It is truly incredible to work with these knives. The big difference between these two lines for me is that the Carbon Steel knives are a little fussier - they need to be cleaned immediately, especially after acidic foods, to avoid staining/discoloring the metal, and they need to be lightly oiled regularly.
I started with the Essentials. If I were starting again, I would go entirely with the Damascus knives.
Is the blade the same? Just seems like the handle is different.