View Full Version : The Value of a Knife from a Custom Maker

Gravy Power
08-08-2013, 11:38 PM
The thread about seeking a Kramer non-production knife kind of got the ball rolling, but I had been thinking about it for awhile.

I'm a culinary student, albeit a non-traditional one. I came from a field that was fairly lucretive, allowing me to appreciate and afford the finer things in life; i.e. great knives. In no way do I feel this grants me anything as I enter a hopefully long and painful, yet rewarding career of cooking.

The other day in my Garde Manger class, my instuctor, a real bad-ass adjunct, who's locally proven himself over and over, grabs my 7.2 Sun Carter for a second. I think we all know, it's pretty rare, even for professionals, to appreciate a great knife. Many pros here will tell you that Shun, Wustof and etc. dominate their kitchens. He's a better cook than I hope I'll ever be.

Anyways, here is the short conversation (keep in mind, I go to a community college. The cirriculum is actually really good, but the students that finish pay 8k for their education, not 80k). The majority of students stick with their issued Mercer kit.

"Man, this is a really nice knife. What did this run you?" - instructor

"ummm. You really don't want to know Chef." - me

"200?" - instructor

"More than $200 Chef."

end of convo.

This is a gyuto that was listed at $525 more than 15 months ago. With the 25% I think I paid around $400. Nevermind the Kochi Migaki, Gesshin Ginga petty, Wustoff filet, Fujiwara FKM, cheap ($70) Honesuki, three random Shun's (about $350 woth that got me interested in this place).

Today, that Carter would probably run around $600-800 from Murray, depending on the handle. Right now Kramer's are auctioning for around 30k. I've handled a Shun production Kramer, but never the real thing. On the flipside, you have bad-ass dudes like Devin T. throwing out offers for his 240 ITK for $400. In less than an hour they're all gone.

I'm a firm believer in capatalism, and getting whatever the market is willing to pay. Major props for people like Hoss and other makers around here for keeping their products at an affordable price. And major respect for people like Kramer who've managed to create a market in which supply does not meet the demand. To me, the Carter was well worth what I paid for it as well.

I guess my question is, how do you define the value of a functional (non-show) knife? Obviously here we're a little obsessed with shiny things, but when do each of you define the value? My guess is that the person who is paying 30k for a Kramer is not putting it to use everyday for 6-8 hours, but I'm curious as to what others see as the compromise.

08-08-2013, 11:51 PM
As an executive chef I don't cook as much as I used to but am still young (31) so I like all day to be making sauces, breaking down birds and fish, helping whoever I can on the line and for me I will spend whatever I can on knives that make me smile and they actually help me get through the stressfull parts of the day not just by cutting things but by changing things up and keeping it exciting. That's why I go through so many knives. It's like your excited when you have a new pair of clogs you want to try out or you feel good when you get new chef coats same thing with knive for me. I cook better when I'm using great knives because I'm excited about using them and want the food to match the quality of the tool. If that makes sense to anyone.

08-09-2013, 12:06 AM
I cook better when I'm using great knives because I'm excited about using them and want the food to match the quality of the tool. If that makes sense to anyone.

I'm just a home cook, but that makes perfect sense to me!

08-09-2013, 12:07 AM
Good question. The knives I value above all others are those that were made by someone I've interacted with in a way that I feel is meaningful. The other knives are just cool to have and use.

sachem allison
08-09-2013, 12:30 AM
I agree with TK and Turbo but, I'm all about the history of a piece. Of all the knives I have from all the great makers here, I still find myself grabbing a no name vintage chef knife from the 60"s for a lot of my work. I don't have a favorite perse, each is different and each holds a different spot. I have been known to pay a lot for a knife that no one else would buy and refused to buy a knife that everyone else would want for next to nothing because, it didn't interest me.

08-09-2013, 12:52 AM
I love owning things that are hand made, it feels like an extension of their creativity when I use it. It feels real, and authentic. So much money could have been saved if I just bought factory made stuff.

08-09-2013, 01:38 AM
I also have a big woody for the vintage knife. I love thinking about where its been, who used it and especially the type of kitchen it was in. Also once I got a custom I never turned back not because its made to my specs I actually don't change what the maker likes to do at all but because who and how it was made.

08-09-2013, 02:27 AM
As expensive as many of the customs made by extraordinarily talented makers are , I often think about how much they struggle to make ends meet. Whether it's making beautiful food or amazing knives, it's gotta be a labor of love. They earn every penny they make.

08-09-2013, 03:22 AM
I attribute value strictly to its performance and level of finish. That being said, I would much prefer a crappily finished higher performing product over a nicely finished less good cutter at same price bracket. my biggest invested knife had a horribly sharp choil but it's the best steel I've ever tried and use it for almost everything. It's a bit ugly looking too, lol. It was definitely made for 'pro' use and not sitting pretty in a drawer.

08-09-2013, 05:23 AM
What panda said, but on top of that I value the hand work & craft that the maker has put in the knife - it gives it a bit of soul and personality and I feel honored to be able to use a product somebody invested effort and care into.