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View Full Version : Kramer vs. Kramer vs. Kramer



pitonboy
07-24-2012, 12:13 PM
This may well have been beaten to death, but I can't find it. There seem to be three kinds of Kramer out there: the Zwilling 52100, the Zwilling-Kramer Damascus ($1799), and his own work, custom or premade on his website. Can someone please comment as to whether the monosteel and/or Damascus Zwillings aregreat knives and something special, and what do his own knives typically go for in auction and if one gets chosen for a custom?

Dream Burls
07-24-2012, 12:30 PM
Can't speak to the Zwillings, but his customs go for $5,000 and up.

DeepCSweede
07-24-2012, 12:39 PM
This may help:

http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/1424-Kramer-Zwilling-10-quot-Chef-s-Knive-arrived?highlight=kramer

I still like my 10" ZK 9 months into it. The 52100 sharpens very easily and I like the handle and the feel of the knife. The african blackwood handle has shrunk noticibly though.

DeepCSweede
07-24-2012, 12:41 PM
I don't believe that I would spring for the factory ZK Damascus. There are a lot of other customs you could have made for that price and potentially several customs.

SpikeC
07-24-2012, 01:09 PM
Don't forget the Shun version!

TB_London
07-24-2012, 01:59 PM
Don't forget the Shun version!

Everyone should forget the Shun version :D

Andrew H
07-24-2012, 02:15 PM
Don't buy the ZK damascus. Please.

Eamon Burke
07-24-2012, 03:53 PM
I was at Sur La Table, for the first time ever, 4 days ago. I thought I was seeing some trick of light, so I asked to see the Zwilling Kramers. I was thoroughly unimpressed. Some really piss poor factory grinding, at least on the 6 that I saw.

EdipisReks
07-24-2012, 05:00 PM
I was at Sur La Table, for the first time ever, 4 days ago. I thought I was seeing some trick of light, so I asked to see the Zwilling Kramers. I was thoroughly unimpressed. Some really piss poor factory grinding, at least on the 6 that I saw.

the one that i handled was fine.

Eamon Burke
07-24-2012, 05:24 PM
Maybe they were damaged or something. But they had 2 overgrinds each, and a rounded-over heel on all of them. For the price, I expected a LOT more grind-wise.

a.lber.to
07-24-2012, 05:48 PM
I had issues myself with the first 10" Chef I received from an Amazon vendor in the US (the only way I had found of having one shipped internationally): an over-grind in the middle of the blade (which would not touch the cutting board), a shrunken handle, and a slightly bent blade. However, as I wrote in another post some time ago (http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/6258-Knife-tales-of-Japan), both Zwilling US and Zwilling Japan went WAY out of their way to make it right, and now I could not be more pleased with my Zwilling Kramer knives. Serious kudos to them once again! This said, I believe they had some issues in the beginning, so you may have seen what were probably early-production knives...

Lucretia
07-24-2012, 06:14 PM
I have the ZK utility knife and like it quite a bit. The handles are kind of fat for smaller hands, though.

EdipisReks
07-24-2012, 10:42 PM
Maybe they were damaged or something. But they had 2 overgrinds each, and a rounded-over heel on all of them. For the price, I expected a LOT more grind-wise.

maybe bad QC, because i definitely didn't see that!

Knifefan
07-25-2012, 01:15 PM
maybe bad QC, because i definitely didn't see that!

Well, you need to take into account who made this post. Definitely not someone that seems to like Henckels and even with a professional reason to dislike them.

kalaeb
07-25-2012, 01:50 PM
The ZK I owned did not have grind issues at all. The handle shrunk a bit, but that was it.

There is nothing special about it, it was just okay. There are a few users here who have both the ZK and originals...if I remember right, they were impressed with the ZK replica.

EdipisReks
07-25-2012, 01:51 PM
Well, you need to take into account who made this post. Definitely not someone that seems to like Henckels and even with a professional reason to dislike them.

bull$hit.

Johnny.B.Good
07-25-2012, 02:24 PM
Well, you need to take into account who made this post. Definitely not someone that seems to like Henckels and even with a professional reason to dislike them.

What a ridiculous thing to say.

pitonboy
07-25-2012, 02:38 PM
So I am wondering if getting the ZK for $400 will be less thrilling than getting an ITK or a Masamoto or such, or is it enough of the Kramer "experience" that I don't then need to get a custom? I signed up for one but am now AFRAID of being picked as there is no way I could fork out $5000. I wish I could rent a real Kramer for a week to see if they are all THAT.

Johnny.B.Good
07-25-2012, 02:50 PM
So I am wondering if getting the ZK for $400 will be less thrilling than getting an ITK or a Masamoto or such, or is it enough of the Kramer "experience" that I don't then need to get a custom? I signed up for one but am now AFRAID of being picked as there is no way I could fork out $5000. I wish I could rent a real Kramer for a week to see if they are all THAT.

As mentioned above, there is a thread here somewhere where a member who owns both (a Kramer original and the ZK version) said the ZK was very close to an original. You should be able to visit a Sur La Table and try cutting with one in the store (and if you get it home and decide you don't like it, Sur La Table is famous for their return policy). If it feels good to you and you have the money to spend, why not? I don't have enough money to spend $5,000 on one knife, and wouldn't blame anyone for balking at doing so. Just imagine what you could get from one or more of the makers here for that kind of money...

kalaeb
07-25-2012, 04:20 PM
So I am wondering if getting the ZK for $400 will be less thrilling than getting an ITK or a Masamoto or such, or is it enough of the Kramer "experience" that I don't then need to get a custom? I signed up for one but am now AFRAID of being picked as there is no way I could fork out $5000. I wish I could rent a real Kramer for a week to see if they are all THAT.

IMO DT ITK out performs the ZK hands down.

Namaxy
07-25-2012, 04:50 PM
IMO DT ITK out performs the ZK hands down.

+1. AND, you could get a DT PM steel for a little more than twice that, but have arguably one of the finest knives out there. (IMHO)

Salty dog
07-25-2012, 04:58 PM
He's a sellout.

kalaeb
07-25-2012, 05:11 PM
He's a sellout.

Perhaps, the term is so often used in a derogatory fashion with those whom have made it through hard work. Leveraging strengths, making sound business decisions, working hard and supporting his family is hardly something I can frown on.

Marko Tsourkan
07-25-2012, 05:14 PM
Can't fault him for being a businessman. Plus he is quite open that these knives are not made by him, that they are production knives made to his specs.

Salty dog
07-25-2012, 08:39 PM
I've been dancing around this Kramer thing for years. In short, I believe he sold me a knife that was a "second" after waiting three years. At the time I requested two different damascus patterns that he would not make. ***? I waited three ******* years and you're only going to limit me to your B stock? It wasn't until he realized I might have a clue that he made me a good knife, which I promptly sold because of the bad taste left in my mouth. I can't own a knife produced by someone I consider a Shiester.

Love him all you want but I know how he screwed me. I'm guessing I'm not the first or last. And at those prices?

Gee, would someone like that sell out to the big boys?

Enjoy your home in Hawai. It's been paid for by more than a few idiots.

NO ChoP!
07-26-2012, 11:21 AM
I think the ZKramer falls into a category with the likes of Takeda or Takagi; there are quirks that must be overcame. If you can see past them, you have a great knife. Kind of like comparing a Viper to a 911...

I would like to someday try the 8" ZKramer, as I found most of the problems I had were with the length of the flat spot vs. the huge belly; both too drastic for my taste.

(They don't call him Saltydog for nothing, lol)

NO ChoP!
07-26-2012, 11:23 AM
...and I own 2 ZKramers; both are constructed flawlessly with a perfect grind. Handle shrinkage on the gyuto is noticeable, as mentioned.


I'm sure Eamon has no professional conspiracy in the works, but he has gone on a few tangents of his complete distaste for Henckels in the past... I agree that this would discredit any future opinions of the brand. But whatev's... I think most of us feel this way about Shun, lol....

Mucho Bocho
07-27-2012, 07:41 PM
Its not talked about much but I have one of his Williams Sonoma Meiji knifes in SG2 (6" paid $179 shipped) that is now discontinued and it blows away all my other steels including Kono HD and all of the Hitachi steel colors. My CPM Chef Choice is a close second. Although I bought the knife before I really knew anything about knives (much credit given to this forum), I'ts really grown on me. You know how it goes, buy something, exciting times, then it doesn't live up to your expectations and you remember what it cost, then you start thinking about how much of a loss your willing to accept when you put it on the chopping block. Then you get occupied/lazy, forget to sell the knife, pick it up again and say hey, lookie here. And the love affair begins again.

Seriously, even though it as a belly like a bear in salmon season, the grind, profile, tip, handle and STEEL really impresses me. The blade road is straiter than anything else I have including Kono, Yusuke and Sakai's. Its also the size of two stacked hairs, just how I like it, minimum cutting edge bevel.

Anybody else buy one of his Meiji SG2 Knives? Love to hear your feedback. Admittedly, it is a little wonky looking, but does that butch harner heel and nice hight.

Eamon Burke
07-27-2012, 10:20 PM
Considering they are made in Japan, there are a lot of $400 Japanese knives I'd rather have over a ZKramer any day. Suisin IH, Takeda, Martell reworked Hiro AS, Gengetsu, to name a few.

I have no idea what you are paying for with the ZK. A shiny choil maybe?

jaybett
07-28-2012, 01:01 AM
Considering they are made in Japan, there are a lot of $400 Japanese knives I'd rather have over a ZKramer any day. Suisin IH, Takeda, Martell reworked Hiro AS, Gengetsu, to name a few.

I have no idea what you are paying for with the ZK. A shiny choil maybe?

What the what?

Jay

Andrew H
07-28-2012, 01:03 AM
Considering they are made in Japan, there are a lot of $400 Japanese knives I'd rather have over a ZKramer any day. Suisin IH, Takeda, Martell reworked Hiro AS, Gengetsu, to name a few.

I have no idea what you are paying for with the ZK. A shiny choil maybe?

Many would argue that 52100 is a better steel than AS or white, for one.

JohnnyChance
07-28-2012, 01:13 AM
Well, you need to take into account who made this post. Definitely not someone that seems to like Henckels and even with a professional reason to dislike them.


bull$hit.


What a ridiculous thing to say.

I believe he was referring to Eamon and while I'm not sure Eamon hates on them just because they are made by Henckels, he does rant about them fairly often. :D

JohnnyChance
07-28-2012, 01:25 AM
Considering they are made in Japan, there are a lot of $400 Japanese knives I'd rather have over a ZKramer any day. Suisin IH, Takeda, Martell reworked Hiro AS, Gengetsu, to name a few.

I have no idea what you are paying for with the ZK. A shiny choil maybe?

Well, the name for one. And the choil doesn't stay shiny since it's carbon, but the spine and choil are both polished and quite comfy.

While the ZKramer is in the price range of those other knives, and a direct competitor in our world, the ZK's competition are Shuns, Wustofs, Globals and other knives you can buy by walking into W&S and SLT. In that light, they don't look as bad as comparing them to a Gengetsu.


IMO DT ITK out performs the ZK hands down.

I would say my ZK is a slightly better cutter than my older (and thicker) ITK, but my newer (and way thinner) DT Spicy White and any of the newer ones I have used are MUCH better cutters.

Eamon Burke
07-28-2012, 01:30 AM
Seriously? Who thinks that AS will just fail them and 52100 will save the day? The difference between these steels when properly heat treated is so damn minute.

Its not worth a poor grind and inverted handle.

Eamon Burke
07-28-2012, 01:35 AM
Fwiw, I would have loved to see a good knife in slt.

There is so much room for knives in the modern world that there is no competition. The best thing for everyone is everyone's success.

I truly believe there is a higher performance in hand made knives, and the Japanese will do that for the same money.

JohnnyChance
07-28-2012, 01:36 AM
Seriously? Who thinks that AS will just fail them and 52100 will save the day? The difference between these steels when properly heat treated is so damn minute.

Its not worth a poor grind and inverted handle.

Haha, yet, we still argue over the minute differences of these steels.

None I have seen had a poor grind and while the handle noses down slightly at the end, when on the board it still is angled up. Not like those bowie-turned-chef knives you see.

Eamon Burke
07-28-2012, 01:46 AM
True, it is good that we literally split hairs...but we should be careful of declaring steels "better" when we all know how subjective it is. Many, as in perhaps a majority of people in the country the ZK is made in, consider AS to be the best blade steel in the world, and it is a pretty badass steel. 52100 is good too. My personal favorite is W2. We all have our style. But I have seen some really impressive cutters, made to be maintained, and great QC for $400. I have a ZK right now actually from a customer. It's no Farberware but it's also not God's Gift to Cutlery. I just don't think the steel, or the grind quality is worth $400. It's comparable to the ******** Series, which is greater variety, made Stateside, and half the price. So where's the other $150? I mean, most customers at SLT have no idea who Bob Kramer is until they are told.

I don't have on Henckels as much as I do on Wusthof--the real kings of overpriced garbage knives. Henckels seems interested in meeting demand first and foremost. Wusthof seems interested in making a buck first and foremost.

JohnnyChance
07-28-2012, 01:52 AM
So where's the other $150?

SLT itself. You can't give out 40% employee discounts if your employees are going to make you broke. They still make money at that price. They run higher profit margins than online places because they have to and they can get away with it.

Andrew H
07-28-2012, 02:14 AM
True, it is good that we literally split hairs...but we should be careful of declaring steels "better" when we all know how subjective it is. Many, as in perhaps a majority of people in the country the ZK is made in, consider AS to be the best blade steel in the world, and it is a pretty badass steel. 52100 is good too. My personal favorite is W2. We all have our style. But I have seen some really impressive cutters, made to be maintained, and great QC for $400. I have a ZK right now actually from a customer. It's no Farberware but it's also not God's Gift to Cutlery. I just don't think the steel, or the grind quality is worth $400. It's comparable to the ******** Series, which is greater variety, made Stateside, and half the price. So where's the other $150? I mean, most customers at SLT have no idea who Bob Kramer is until they are told.

I don't have on Henckels as much as I do on Wusthof--the real kings of overpriced garbage knives. Henckels seems interested in meeting demand first and foremost. Wusthof seems interested in making a buck first and foremost.

I did put this in before my statement: "Many people would argue." Marko has multiple times and I believe Larrin has talked about it also. I don't think it's worth $400, especially when compared to Gengetsu or a custom which could be close to that price, but I do think that it's a better value at $400 than a Shun Ken Onion at $250.

jaybett
07-28-2012, 03:13 AM
....I have seen some really impressive cutters, made to be maintained, and great QC for $400.

Please name them. I'd be willing to bet though, that there would be disagreement with your choices.


I have a ZK right now actually from a customer. It's no Farberware but it's also not God's Gift to Cutlery. I just don't think the steel, or the grind quality is worth $400. It's comparable to the ******** Series, which is greater variety, made Stateside, and half the price. So where's the other $150? I mean, most customers at SLT have no idea who Bob Kramer is until they are told.

Anybody who shops at SLT is probably fairly serious about cooking. More then likely they have read or at least seen the blurb in Cook's Illustrated about Kramer knives. SLT took a chance that there would be enough people willing to pay for expensive kitchen knives. From what I've read, they have had success with the Kramer Zwilling line. If SLT has proven anything is that there is a place in the market for high end kitchen knives, which should be good news for us all.

I've always had a problem with the so called values argument. It is easy to throw out the line that a knife is not worth it price. It is much harder to say why a knife is worth its price.

I've purchased knives that were the favorites of the forum. When I got them, I couldn't see what the fuss was all about. Other knives, that are no longer popular on the forums, have worked out better then expected.

I appreciate the Kramer Zwilling more for what it is not. It is not another 240mm gyuto.


I don't have on Henckels as much as I do on Wusthof--the real kings of overpriced garbage knives. Henckels seems interested in meeting demand first and foremost. Wusthof seems interested in making a buck first and foremost.

And you base this statement on? What knife are you going to recommend to the people who don't want to deal with the hassles of owning a Japanese knife?

Jay

bieniek
07-28-2012, 07:47 AM
I've purchased knives that were the favorites of the forum. When I got them, I couldn't see what the fuss was all about. Other knives, that are no longer popular on the forums, have worked out better then expected.



+1

Eamon Burke
07-28-2012, 09:19 AM
And you base this statement on? What knife are you going to recommend to the people who don't want to deal with the hassles of owning a Japanese knife?


Day in, day out experience. I'm about to go to a Farmer's Market and have it proved to me all over again.

There are no hassles of owning a good knife. There are other reasons not to leave a knife filthy, drop it on the floor, bang it around in a drawer, or treat it like a mallet, none of which are "my knife is a delicate flower". A wusthof will not survive any of that either. They will rust as fast if left with half a lemon on them overnight, and when the tip hits the floor, it'll bend, which means it may not be broken now, but it sure might when you straighten it! I consider having to sharpen a knife 3x as much to be a hassle.

NO ChoP!
07-28-2012, 12:16 PM
I still disagree with statements made about poor grind and fit and finish. Besides the exposed rivets, I haven't heard a single complaint from an owner of either topics...

Again, the grind on mine is literally flawless. The taper is gorgeous. The fit and finish is stunning. Just saying....

NO ChoP!
07-28-2012, 12:24 PM
And coming from a guy who can hand peel a case of potatoes faster with a parer than most can with a peeler; the zkramer parer is the most comfortable and well constructed parer made, hands down. The Hattori KF may be a distant second.....

karloevaristo
07-28-2012, 11:46 PM
i really don't understand the shape...

Eamon Burke
07-28-2012, 11:53 PM
Funny coincidence. I got one to sharpen today, and got to fix a hole the guy finally admitted he almost returned the knife for.

#justsayin

brainsausage
07-29-2012, 12:21 AM
Well, you need to take into account who made this post. Definitely not someone that seems to like Henckels and even with a professional reason to dislike them.

That's more than a little insulting. It's straight up B.S.

tk59
07-29-2012, 03:01 AM
I've seen a few of the Zwilling Kramers and used one. They aren't my cup of tea but fit and finish is decent. Sharpenability is good. Edge retention is not terrible but probably the worst among 52100 blades I have used and they cut surprisingly well for the type of grind.

For what it's worth, I can see why knifefan made his comment toward Eamon and I think he has every right to point that out.

brainsausage
07-29-2012, 03:29 AM
Looking back on it now- I may have misconstrued his 'professional' remark. And btw- I have no horse in this race. I've never handled a Kramer. The profile I've seen in pics of most of his knives turns me off, so I've mostly disregarded all the hub bub. But it seems to be popping up again lately. I don't really get why his custom stuff is as pricey as it is. I would gladly take one of the guys knives who hang around here over his based purely on geometry/aesthetics. I'm not sure if it's worth it in general just to have a persons name on your knife, when it doesn't perform/look any better than a knife half or a third of the price. Maybe I'm just speaking from a practical point of view, as I use all of my knives in a pro kitchen, but I still acknowledge and appreciate a nice Damascus style finish, rare wood handle, and pristine F/F. I just think you can get the same for a lot less. In regards to his factory stuff- again, I haven't touched them, but it still seems a little pricy considering the mass production aspect.

Knifefan
07-29-2012, 06:00 AM
SLT itself. You can't give out 40% employee discounts if your employees are going to make you broke. They still make money at that price. They run higher profit margins than online places because they have to and they can get away with it.

When talking about value, you have to take into account 2 things:

1. how the knife is being distributed: sold through SLT / WS with all the related markups or direct imports sold through low margin online retailers. If directly imported *** knives sold online are considerably cheaper, you can say that you good a good deal, but not that a knife that is more expensive just because it goes through regular distribution is a poor value.

2. the design / features / specs of a knife. The ZK has a tapered tang, fully tapered blade, mirror polished choil, spine and tang, brass bolster, wooden handle, mosaic pin etc. With just a bit of engineering / production knowledge, you should know how expensive it must be to produce.

Can you get knives with similar or even better performance at cheaper prices than the ZK, like the AS? Yes. Can you get a knife with similar specs cheaper through any other brick and mortar retailer? No. So why then is the ZK a poor value and 'too expensive'?

bieniek
07-29-2012, 08:39 AM
Excellent post Knifefan, very well written.

marc4pt0
07-29-2012, 10:31 AM
Anybody else buy one of his Meiji SG2 Knives? Love to hear your feedback. Admittedly, it is a little wonky looking, but does that butch harner heel and nice hight.[/QUOTE]


I actually have the 8" chef, and Bread knife from the Meiji Line. Got them both for a song 'n dance off ebay. IMO both are great cutters, Love the larger belly on the chef knife, but even more so the handles are amongst my favorite I've ever worked with. They're not bad knives at all, but that said, I'm glad I didn't pay full price for these WS spin offs.

As for the ZKramers, I currently have the 8" Chefs anf the 9" slicer. The slicer is my go to knife at work. It is the perfect thinness and has just the right amount of flex in blade that makes it a great multi-tasker for me. Also, the fact that Zwilling actually went through and actually Rounded the spine and bolster on this line says a lot on their commitment on quality. But, on both of the ZK knives, the handle woods have shrunken a bit. They just didn't come "smooth" around the edges or pins, which for the price you'd think they'd be perfect.

Of course, the ZK 52100 take a great edge and hold it through some serious prep/line cooking. And finally, they make for a great canvass to force patina on. Wish I could post some pics to show.

And as a side note, the latest knife that was auctioned on Kramer's website ended up selling for $31,100. That's correct. auction ended friday I believe. My staf and I had a kick w/ this one..

Eamon Burke
07-29-2012, 12:03 PM
I'm flattered some of you guys think I am in competition with Zwilling Henckels. Really, I'm touched. :O




The thing is, I have as much personally invested in this as anyone here--in fact, much less, considered I don't own one. So what's up with everyone getting a burr in their butt about it? I mean, it's not up for debate, I've seen about a dozen at this point, and they all had over/under ground spots about he width of a dime on them at some point or another, touching the edge. They needed fixing.

The steel was good. Sharpens nice. And yes, there are other features of the knife. But when I make a list of what makes a knife, the grind quality is far and away #1. Second is heat treat. Third is profile. Polished choils, wood handles, and availability at Sur La Table are all pretty damn close to the bottom.

I just don't want to pay $400 for a factory-robot made knife. A human being can be employed to effectively make that knife, and adjusting to create a quality grind is free for people and horrendously expensive for knife robots. The reason factories don't do that is because they don't want to invest in the people--robots don't take breaks or change jobs--it's got nothing to do with the quality of the product.


I mean, these are the same price as Marko's knives.

jaybett
07-29-2012, 12:43 PM
I'm flattered some of you guys think I am in competition with Zwilling Henckels. Really, I'm touched. :O




The thing is, I have as much personally invested in this as anyone here--in fact, much less, considered I don't own one. So what's up with everyone getting a burr in their butt about it? I mean, it's not up for debate, I've seen about a dozen at this point, and they all had over/under ground spots about he width of a dime on them at some point or another, touching the edge. They needed fixing.

The steel was good. Sharpens nice. And yes, there are other features of the knife. But when I make a list of what makes a knife, the grind quality is far and away #1. Second is heat treat. Third is profile. Polished choils, wood handles, and availability at Sur La Table are all pretty damn close to the bottom.

I just don't want to pay $400 for a factory-robot made knife. A human being can be employed to effectively make that knife, and adjusting to create a quality grind is free for people and horrendously expensive for knife robots. The reason factories don't do that is because they don't want to invest in the people--robots don't take breaks or change jobs--it's got nothing to do with the quality of the product.


I mean, these are the same price as Marko's knives.

The problem is you keep changing your argument.

When it is pointed out, that you have made some strong statements against Henkels, your reply is there not that bad, the maker that is really poor is Wustoff.

Your issue with the Zwilling Kramer is that the ones you have seen contain over/under ground spots. Nobody doubts what you have seen, but other forum members have including myself, have not seen those issues on their knives. A plausible explanation would be a bad batch got out of the factory, instead of a problem endemic to the whole line.

One of the keys, when I make a purchase is what will the company do after a purchase is made? Who has a more generous return policy then SLT? The forum member who worked directly with Zwilling shared how they went out of there way to make the situation right.

You don't want to pay $400 for a factory-robot made knife, but you have no problem buying something from the Addict line?

When asked how is the knife over valued you have been unable so far to provide specifics.

Jay

Marko Tsourkan
07-29-2012, 12:53 PM
When talking about value, you have to take into account 2 things:

1. how the knife is being distributed: sold through SLT / WS with all the related markups or direct imports sold through low margin online retailers. If directly imported *** knives sold online are considerably cheaper, you can say that you good a good deal, but not that a knife that is more expensive just because it goes through regular distribution is a poor value.

2. the design / features / specs of a knife. The ZK has a tapered tang, fully tapered blade, mirror polished choil, spine and tang, brass bolster, wooden handle, mosaic pin etc. With just a bit of engineering / production knowledge, you should know how expensive it must be to produce.

Can you get knives with similar or even better performance at cheaper prices than the ZK, like the AS? Yes. Can you get a knife with similar specs cheaper through any other brick and mortar retailer? No. So why then is the ZK a poor value and 'too expensive'?

My western will feature similar bolsters to ZK, so I am getting familiar with the construction and here are my thoughts on it. This is an easier bolster construction than a welded bolsters featured on many Japanese production knives. I would guess all components for ZK are laser cut and CNC milled so fit is perfect and no guess-work involved, just assembly. You slide in a bolster till it locks into a notch, put a pin through and peen it. The scales are held by two corby bolts and a mozaic pin. Handle is shaped by hand (at least in the final stages), but it's a pretty simple shape (unlike a Coca Cola shape), so a skilled worker won't spend much time on it. So to say that this handle is much more complex and require more production that say Hattory FH is an exaggeration.

Let me comment on grind and finish too. Grind is partially flat (I guess more than 1/3 from spine down) and then convex to the edge. A relatively simple grind to do, on a automated grinder with a final steps done by hand. Knife is ground to 0.015 or so on the edge.

Finish is a vertical scratches belt finish, probably in the area of 200 grit, similar to Masamoto. Because the knife is very tall, the grind transition toward convex doesn't always result in a plunge line, though I seen one sloppily done (on one side and not the other).

Heat treatment on that knife (heard directly from users) is adequate, but nothing special. It will hold a decent edge for 2 weeks in a pro kitchen with stropping.

None of the above point to a production that would be different than that of Lamson.

As to whether it is worth money or not, you arrive at your own conclusion, but the brand name has something do do with it.

My personal opinion (based on my personal preferences, make a note of that!) - this knife could be made better with some changes.

M

JohnnyChance
07-29-2012, 01:15 PM
Your issue with the Zwilling Kramer is that the ones you have seen contain over/under ground spots. Nobody doubts what you have seen, but other forum members have including myself, have not seen those issues on their knives. A plausible explanation would be a bad batch got out of the factory, instead of a problem endemic to the whole line.

You don't want to pay $400 for a factory-robot made knife, but you have no problem buying something from the Addict line?

I'm a god damn American and I support American robots

I'd question it. NOBODY else has seen any grind issues but every single one eamon has seen has them? I mean I've heard tale of his legendary eyesight, but c'mon.

marc4pt0
07-29-2012, 01:21 PM
I'd also like to add that when I purchased the 8" ZK chef knife, the SLT by me had it mispriced at $299, so that plus the pro discount program they offer is what made my decision to get it. Still no regrets on the purchase, and I really like the feel of it. As for over/under grind, neither one of mine show any signs.

To Marko, i'm looking forward to seeing your Western style knives!

Marko Tsourkan
07-29-2012, 01:22 PM
I'm a god damn American and I support American robots

...

Isn't ZK German-owned and Japanese-made (presumably using German grinding robots - they are known for them: Kuka, Berger among others, even Lamson uses them, or Japanese robots)?

Most of 52100 steel comes from Germany these days, so a good chance it is made of a German steel.

There is a reason why it is called Zwilling Kramer, not Kramer production knives (designed in US, but made overseas).

GlassEye
07-29-2012, 01:24 PM
I'd question it. NOBODY else has seen any grind issues but every single one eamon has seen has them? I mean I've heard tale of his legendary eyesight, but c'mon.

I am quite certain I have heard of enough grind issues, to have thought it was an occurrence more common than it should be. Eamon was never involved where I have seen these issues reported.

JohnnyChance
07-29-2012, 01:58 PM
I am quite certain I have heard of enough grind issues, to have thought it was an occurrence more common than it should be. Eamon was never involved where I have seen these issues reported.

I had not seen any grind issues with the ZKs reported before.

JohnnyChance
07-29-2012, 02:14 PM
I'm flattered some of you guys think I am in competition with Zwilling Henckels. Really, I'm touched. :O




The thing is, I have as much personally invested in this as anyone here--in fact, much less, considered I don't own one. So what's up with everyone getting a burr in their butt about it? I mean, it's not up for debate, I've seen about a dozen at this point, and they all had over/under ground spots about he width of a dime on them at some point or another, touching the edge. They needed fixing.

The steel was good. Sharpens nice. And yes, there are other features of the knife. But when I make a list of what makes a knife, the grind quality is far and away #1. Second is heat treat. Third is profile. Polished choils, wood handles, and availability at Sur La Table are all pretty damn close to the bottom.

I just don't want to pay $400 for a factory-robot made knife. A human being can be employed to effectively make that knife, and adjusting to create a quality grind is free for people and horrendously expensive for knife robots. The reason factories don't do that is because they don't want to invest in the people--robots don't take breaks or change jobs--it's got nothing to do with the quality of the product.


I mean, these are the same price as Marko's knives.

I don't see where anyone alluded to you being competition for Henckels.

Yes, for you personally a ZK is not a fit. Other people have different expectations and requirements in a knife. Why is that so hard to grasp?
Hell if I sharpened for a living I would much rather see one of these coming through my door than a wustof or the like.

Rottman
07-29-2012, 02:23 PM
Isn't ZK German-owned and Japanese-made (presumably using German grinding robots - they are known for them: Kuka, Berger among others, even Lamson uses them, or Japanese robots)?

AFAIK Zwilling bought an entire knife production plant in Japan some years ago. What would be the point of doing this if they change the whole production to their German routine?

Marko Tsourkan
07-29-2012, 02:29 PM
AFAIK Zwilling bought an entire knife production plant in Japan some years ago. What would be the point of doing this if they change the whole production to their German routine?

There is a difference in German and Japanese knife production methods, the latter being more labor intensive in finishing stages.

Japanese production results in thinner at the edge blades and/or a little more hand-made feel. To train workers to grind thin at the edge by hand, after decades of fully automated German production line, is not a small task - easier buy Japanese company, add some newer equipment like laser cutting and CNC, and got yourself best of the two worlds, with a little hype (made in Japan by descendants of sword makers) as a bonus. I am sure other factors (exchange rate, access to Japanese market for Henckels brand, etc. played a role as well).

Makes perfect sense to me.

M

PS: I think the point I am trying to make here, let's take emotions out of it and judge a knife on its merit or shortcomings. If the praise or criticism are well earned, there is little else to argue about.

It would help if people could back up some of their arguments or claims with some more concrete facts or evidence, otherwise it is all opinions.

mikemac
07-29-2012, 02:46 PM
About all I've seen/know about robot made/finished blades comes from the few videos that pop up here now and then, and Discovery channel...In your opinion are the ZK blades robot made or finished? and if they are how does a robot end up with over/under grinds, especially if they are in different locations on the blade?

Somewhat related, is an over/undergrind different from an inconsistent bevel? Is it a matter of degree?


..... I've seen about a dozen at this point, and they all had over/under ground spots about he width of a dime on them at some point ....

I just don't want to pay $400 for a factory-robot made knife.

EdipisReks
07-29-2012, 03:44 PM
I had not seen any grind issues with the ZKs reported before.

there have been, especially regarding issues with raised heels.

Marko Tsourkan
07-29-2012, 03:55 PM
....In your opinion are the ZK blades robot made or finished? and if they are how does a robot end up with over/under grinds, especially if they are in different locations on the blade?

...

The final grind and finish is likely done by hand.

Eamon Burke
07-29-2012, 04:38 PM
I was kidding, just about the "professional reason" to dislike Henckels. Henckels makes knives because that is what people buy--if people stop buying knives altogether in lieu of food processors, they'd start making those. My issue with Wusthof is their misinformation tactics that they employ at cooking schools, retail outlets, etc. And their knives are really bad. I see no difference between a $80 Wusthof and its $15 knock off in practice. I have no reason to be biased about this stuff, I, as of yet, have not made entire knives for sale.

Regarding the actual issue at hand, here's what I'm talking about. This is a ZK I got from someone who is not on these forums(just a guy wanting a sheath), I have not touched this knife with the stones, yet. This is the heel on one side:
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-a9c8FBPZ59Y/UBWIS8XGYZI/AAAAAAAAAuY/RnZpP60_Kz4/s640/2012-07-29%252013.55.57.jpg
And this is the other, clearly mismatched.
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-1H_MVFvb9Mg/UBWIT-QXrZI/AAAAAAAAAug/Tjyth2czsZM/s640/2012-07-29%252013.56.50.jpg
And you can also see from the reflection of the straight window panes on the blade that the grind is low in one spot. That proceeds all the way to the edge, and is not matched on the other side.

Here's an Addict, which I have taken to the stones, for just a second, before I noticed the issue with the heel, at which point I set it down to deal with later.
https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-QUPzW8RCERg/UBWIUqFtUMI/AAAAAAAAAuo/vyy6JPOdLiY/s640/2012-07-29%252013.57.41.jpg
The heel on the other side:
https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-uVTdag31rkg/UBWIVXrPaiI/AAAAAAAAAuw/xjRCenndgxc/s640/2012-07-29%252013.58.10.jpg

The grinds are also oriented on both to match the centerline of the blade, because it is easier to get the machines to make knives in straight passes, and having a machine that can follow the profile of a knife when grinding would be outlandishly expensive, or else require many more passes on the machine to create(and every pass adds a significant amount of money to the price of the knife). I have spoken directly to the Lamson folks about this, and I did not get a clear answer as to why the machines have so much trouble creating consistent grinds, other than that the machines are not meant to grind at tolerances that low, and start to act wonky. They were designed, after all, during the era when the Wusthof and Henckels and Chicago Cutlery and Ginsu were filling everyone's homes with useless disposable plates of steel. It is just the way the machines are made. I cannot say about the ZKs, but Lamson does not finish grinding by hand.

The point I was making is, these are not handmade knives. A human does not require more compensation every time they take an extra step at work, or for bending their elbow. It is ok to use a not-handmade knife. I use them often. But I don't see why people would want to pay handmade prices and get factory performance. And by performance, I don't just mean cutting or HT, but also maintenance, and the ability to be used up over your life and continue working while doing so. One of the reasons I like my handmade knives is because they are a breeze to sharpen--I spend just a few minutes and the knife is in tip top shape again, and I don't have to worry about enlarging a hole, making sure to out-size an overgrind on a dead flat stone, or compensating for inverted thickness behind the tip, all things that you deal from factory knives with lower QC.

A good example of a company that is kicking ass at making factory knives with excellent QC is Suisin. I have not seen any untouched Suisin knife that I can recall with any performance related defects, and the prices are all comparable to these other ones. Changing the profile, shape, etc is just a matter of style, that could be done without changing QC, design, or process. It seems that rather than make a knife at $400 with a simpler handle and less marketing hype, they would rather make a sexy knife and sacrifice in the department of being a reliably awesome cutting implement. The comparison to the Addict was because the Addict is a similarly made knife, but less makeup, and less than half the price. That is their purpose, to get a knife is crazy blade steels with attributes of a nice knife for a price that is within reach for regular people. If they wanted to, they could fix the grind issues by taking their time and making more passes...but then the knife would be...well, maybe $400. Which brings us back to the ZK.

As far as the return policy, I have a direct analogy to that in the world of folders. I bought a really great folder a while back that was made by Buck, had a great flipper design, nice profile, solid lockup, pretty scales in premium materials, and high performance heat treat of a powder metal steel. The Buck Vantage Pro. The problem is, most of them have issues with grazing the liners when they close, which can really damage a folder in use. So you might have to return a few, or look at a bunch, which is what I did--out of 8 that Outdoor World had, 6 had a serious problem. It was also under $70, which is remarkable for what you are getting, because, just like when you do finishing work on a Japanese knife to sand a spine or round off a handle, they are passing on a job to YOU--but instead of finishing, it's quality control.

I guess you are paying $250 extra because Sur La Table is fun and the bubbly handle floats your boat. I just think it could be a lot better in the area of being a cutting tool, given the price.
:2cents:

tk59
07-29-2012, 06:51 PM
Assuming the bevels were cut perfectly (which they probably aren't), I'd much rather have the first blade than the second. Whether it's $250 better or not, I can't say. The Zwilling Kramer I have here has minor variations in the grind all along the length of the blade but the bevels are not very wavy at all.

tk59
07-29-2012, 09:04 PM
...The point I was making is, these are not handmade knives...But I don't see why people would want to pay handmade prices and get factory performance. And by performance, I don't just mean cutting or HT, but also maintenance, and the ability to be used up over your life and continue working while doing so. One of the reasons I like my handmade knives is because they are a breeze to sharpen--I spend just a few minutes and the knife is in tip top shape again, and I don't have to worry about enlarging a hole, making sure to out-size an overgrind on a dead flat stone, or compensating for inverted thickness behind the tip, all things that you deal from factory knives with lower QC.area of being a cutting tool, given the price...This is crap. Handmade does not equal performance, superior QC, etc. Furthermore, ease of sharpening is 100% dependent on HT and steel, not hand-anything. I can't think of a machine made knife that took me more than a couple min to sharpen unless it had been abused.

JBroida
07-29-2012, 09:11 PM
I was kidding, just about the "professional reason" to dislike Henckels. Henckels makes knives because that is what people buy--if people stop buying knives altogether in lieu of food processors, they'd start making those. My issue with Wusthof is their misinformation tactics that they employ at cooking schools, retail outlets, etc. And their knives are really bad. I see no difference between a $80 Wusthof and its $15 knock off in practice. I have no reason to be biased about this stuff, I, as of yet, have not made entire knives for sale.

Regarding the actual issue at hand, here's what I'm talking about. This is a ZK I got from someone who is not on these forums(just a guy wanting a sheath), I have not touched this knife with the stones, yet. This is the heel on one side:
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-a9c8FBPZ59Y/UBWIS8XGYZI/AAAAAAAAAuY/RnZpP60_Kz4/s640/2012-07-29%252013.55.57.jpg
And this is the other, clearly mismatched.
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-1H_MVFvb9Mg/UBWIT-QXrZI/AAAAAAAAAug/Tjyth2czsZM/s640/2012-07-29%252013.56.50.jpg
And you can also see from the reflection of the straight window panes on the blade that the grind is low in one spot. That proceeds all the way to the edge, and is not matched on the other side.

Here's an Addict, which I have taken to the stones, for just a second, before I noticed the issue with the heel, at which point I set it down to deal with later.
https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-QUPzW8RCERg/UBWIUqFtUMI/AAAAAAAAAuo/vyy6JPOdLiY/s640/2012-07-29%252013.57.41.jpg
The heel on the other side:
https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-uVTdag31rkg/UBWIVXrPaiI/AAAAAAAAAuw/xjRCenndgxc/s640/2012-07-29%252013.58.10.jpg

The grinds are also oriented on both to match the centerline of the blade, because it is easier to get the machines to make knives in straight passes, and having a machine that can follow the profile of a knife when grinding would be outlandishly expensive, or else require many more passes on the machine to create(and every pass adds a significant amount of money to the price of the knife). I have spoken directly to the Lamson folks about this, and I did not get a clear answer as to why the machines have so much trouble creating consistent grinds, other than that the machines are not meant to grind at tolerances that low, and start to act wonky. They were designed, after all, during the era when the Wusthof and Henckels and Chicago Cutlery and Ginsu were filling everyone's homes with useless disposable plates of steel. It is just the way the machines are made. I cannot say about the ZKs, but Lamson does not finish grinding by hand.

The point I was making is, these are not handmade knives. A human does not require more compensation every time they take an extra step at work, or for bending their elbow. It is ok to use a not-handmade knife. I use them often. But I don't see why people would want to pay handmade prices and get factory performance. And by performance, I don't just mean cutting or HT, but also maintenance, and the ability to be used up over your life and continue working while doing so. One of the reasons I like my handmade knives is because they are a breeze to sharpen--I spend just a few minutes and the knife is in tip top shape again, and I don't have to worry about enlarging a hole, making sure to out-size an overgrind on a dead flat stone, or compensating for inverted thickness behind the tip, all things that you deal from factory knives with lower QC.

A good example of a company that is kicking ass at making factory knives with excellent QC is Suisin. I have not seen any untouched Suisin knife that I can recall with any performance related defects, and the prices are all comparable to these other ones. Changing the profile, shape, etc is just a matter of style, that could be done without changing QC, design, or process. It seems that rather than make a knife at $400 with a simpler handle and less marketing hype, they would rather make a sexy knife and sacrifice in the department of being a reliably awesome cutting implement. The comparison to the Addict was because the Addict is a similarly made knife, but less makeup, and less than half the price. That is their purpose, to get a knife is crazy blade steels with attributes of a nice knife for a price that is within reach for regular people. If they wanted to, they could fix the grind issues by taking their time and making more passes...but then the knife would be...well, maybe $400. Which brings us back to the ZK.

As far as the return policy, I have a direct analogy to that in the world of folders. I bought a really great folder a while back that was made by Buck, had a great flipper design, nice profile, solid lockup, pretty scales in premium materials, and high performance heat treat of a powder metal steel. The Buck Vantage Pro. The problem is, most of them have issues with grazing the liners when they close, which can really damage a folder in use. So you might have to return a few, or look at a bunch, which is what I did--out of 8 that Outdoor World had, 6 had a serious problem. It was also under $70, which is remarkable for what you are getting, because, just like when you do finishing work on a Japanese knife to sand a spine or round off a handle, they are passing on a job to YOU--but instead of finishing, it's quality control.

I guess you are paying $250 extra because Sur La Table is fun and the bubbly handle floats your boat. I just think it could be a lot better in the area of being a cutting tool, given the price.
:2cents:

you know its funny but i've seen a lot of factory made blades lately with horrible high and low spots (more lately than ever before). I've seen shun (of almost all types), miyabi, the factory kramers being discussed here, sakai takayuki, tojiro, etc with all kinds of high and low spots (and some with bad overgrinds... like the tojiro dp i sharpened yesterday). I'm not at all surprised by your findings.

Crothcipt
07-29-2012, 09:14 PM
I don't know I think I am starting to not like the Kool aid that is coming from him. The knife on this auction (to me) was meh. Loved the colors on the handle. Only 1 shot of the knife so you couldn't see the end cap pattern which was damascus. I could also be becoming jaded with other knives.

8845

I like mattrud's knife still, but for me this one was over about 29k$

G-rat
07-29-2012, 09:42 PM
This is crap. Handmade does not equal performance, superior QC, etc. Furthermore, ease of sharpening is 100% dependent on HT and steel, not hand-anything. I can't think of a machine made knife that took me more than a couple min to sharpen unless it had been abused.

Is ease of sharpening 100% based on that? There is no connection between quality of grind and ease of sharpening? I find this hard to believe tk. Eamon's point is that a machine can never finally do what a craftsman can with his hands and lots of time. Thus the prices these knives cost does not equate with the quality of the finished product. I think the Kramer zwillings are a waste of money even though I have never ever handled one based solely on the fact that for just a little more money (or in some cases the same amount) you can buy a knife made by a quantifiable known entity who makes kitchen knives based upon imperial research to improve cutting performance without the specter of marketing sub par products for lots of money elsewhere in their stock portfolio.

tk59
07-29-2012, 10:13 PM
Is ease of sharpening 100% based on that? There is no connection between quality of grind and ease of sharpening? I find this hard to believe tk. Eamon's point is that a machine can never finally do what a craftsman can with his hands and lots of time. Thus the prices these knives cost does not equate with the quality of the finished product. I think the Kramer zwillings are a waste of money even though I have never ever handled one based solely on the fact that for just a little more money (or in some cases the same amount) you can buy a knife made by a quantifiable known entity who makes kitchen knives based upon imperial research to improve cutting performance without the specter of marketing sub par products for lots of money elsewhere in their stock portfolio.There is absolutely no connection between grind and wear resistance and tendency to hold on to a wire edge, aka ease of sharpening. Those are intrinisic properties of the metal itself. Are the best knives handmade? Depending on your definition, I would say, generally yes. Are the worst knives machine made? That is also tough to say. I've seen plenty of hand made knives that are unfit for kitchen use.

GlassEye
07-29-2012, 10:29 PM
I see the statement as meaning that a knife with grind issues is more difficult to sharpen because one would need to deal with the overgrind, hole, whatever it is, requiring more work in sharpening. The farther into the blade you get over time, the problems may become more of an issue, possibly affecting the longevity of the tool. This is how I interpreted his statement.

JohnnyChance
07-29-2012, 10:57 PM
I see the statement as meaning that a knife with grind issues is more difficult to sharpen because one would need to deal with the overgrind, hole, whatever it is, requiring more work in sharpening. The farther into the blade you get over time, the problems may become more of an issue, possibly affecting the longevity of the tool. This is how I interpreted his statement.

Right. A knife without grind issues is easier to sharpen. But not all handmade knives are free of grind errors. To say all handmade knives are easier to sharpen implies they are all perfectly ground, which just isn't the case.

Eamon Burke
07-30-2012, 01:45 AM
This is crap. Handmade does not equal performance, superior QC, etc. Furthermore, ease of sharpening is 100% dependent on HT and steel, not hand-anything. I can't think of a machine made knife that took me more than a couple min to sharpen unless it had been abused.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-sNMZay89MXk/UBYRS3mq6pI/AAAAAAAAAvU/1bndJi9u1P8/s673/Knife%2520Quality%2520Venn.jpg

rhygin
07-30-2012, 03:07 AM
OMG, love the Venn diagram. It's all clear to me now. Thanks Eamon.

ZWILLING
07-30-2012, 05:50 AM
My western will feature similar bolsters to ZK, so I am getting familiar with the construction and here are my thoughts on it. This is an easier bolster construction than a welded bolsters featured on many Japanese production knives. I would guess all components for ZK are laser cut and CNC milled so fit is perfect and no guess-work involved, just assembly. You slide in a bolster till it locks into a notch, put a pin through and peen it. The scales are held by two corby bolts and a mozaic pin. Handle is shaped by hand (at least in the final stages), but it's a pretty simple shape (unlike a Coca Cola shape), so a skilled worker won't spend much time on it. So to say that this handle is much more complex and require more production that say Hattory FH is an exaggeration.

Let me comment on grind and finish too. Grind is partially flat (I guess more than 1/3 from spine down) and then convex to the edge. A relatively simple grind to do, on a automated grinder with a final steps done by hand. Knife is ground to 0.015 or so on the edge.

Finish is a vertical scratches belt finish, probably in the area of 200 grit, similar to Masamoto. Because the knife is very tall, the grind transition toward convex doesn't always result in a plunge line, though I seen one sloppily done (on one side and not the other).

Heat treatment on that knife (heard directly from users) is adequate, but nothing special. It will hold a decent edge for 2 weeks in a pro kitchen with stropping.

None of the above point to a production that would be different than that of Lamson.

As to whether it is worth money or not, you arrive at your own conclusion, but the brand name has something do do with it.

My personal opinion (based on my personal preferences, make a note of that!) - this knife could be made better with some changes.

M


So far we as ZWILLING have avoided posting on forums, but once knife makers start getting involved in discussions, we feel the urge to step in.

The target of the ZK line was to produce a replica of Bob Kramer's original straight carbon Euro line in a series production setting, with all features and materials to be identical to the original. That included:

- straight distal tapering of blade and tang
- brass bolster and rivets
- mosaic pin

The specs of the line dictated the production environment at our Japanese factory. Most of the machines used for the production of MIYABI couldn't be used. We had to build a new factory for this line. As we knew this would be a niche product with comparatively small production lots, automation made little sense, so that the ZK line is mostly handmade, no robots used.

The construction with an attached brass bolster is FAR more complex and difficult than a welded stainless tang / bolster, and the tapering adds to the complexity. Both the tang and blade have to be ground in order to get the tapering, and grinding (even on machines) never is a process with 100% precision. After grinding, you still need a flat surface for attaching the bolster, in order to avoid gaps. Both bolster and handle have to be glued on to the tang, since there must be absolutely no gaps between bolster, handle and tang.

As for the tang, additional to tapering, the tang of each knife is weight adjusted in order to get the balance to the exact points as specified by Bob Kramer.

Getting the gradual distal taper on the blade was another challenge, also considering that a LOT of metal needed to be removed off a hardened blade (> HRC 60), especially on the Chef's knives where we start with an original material thickness of 4 mm. On the 8" and 10" that meant several passes on grinding machines. Usually a Japanese Gyutoh is not made from 4 mm material and doesn't have a distal taper like the ZK. Definitely NOT just a simple grind...

Another issue is getting the brass bolster into its final shape. You can't use casting processes like with stainless steel. Thus you need to grind / mill the bolster into shape from a block of brass. Both ways are far more difficult / expensive than a cast stainless bolster.

The handle is far from easy to produce. It is fully rounded. This means 1st that you can't use simple flat head rivets. You need solid ones. 2nd you have no flat area along the rivets (unlike many other knives), which requires many additional steps in handle grinding. We agree the handle has a similar level of complexity in grinding than a Hattori FH, but this already is a very complex handle. Most handles on the market are A LOT easier to finish.

Another factor that is very time consuming in production is the rounding and mirror finishing of choil, tang and back of the blade. It's exponentially more expensive than a less rounded finish and considerably more expensive than a rounded satin finish.

We hope that that this post will contribute to creating an understanding (and maybe some appreciation for the fact) that this is not just another mass produced knife.

ZWILLING Japan

Marko Tsourkan
07-30-2012, 08:52 AM
So far we as ZWILLING have avoided posting on forums, but once knife makers start getting involved in discussions, we feel the urge to step in.

The target of the ZK line was to produce a replica of Bob Kramer's original straight carbon Euro line in a series production setting, with all features and materials to be identical to the original. That included:

- straight distal tapering of blade and tang
- brass bolster and rivets
- mosaic pin

The specs of the line dictated the production environment at our Japanese factory. Most of the machines used for the production of MIYABI couldn't be used. We had to build a new factory for this line. As we knew this would be a niche product with comparatively small production lots, automation made little sense, so that the ZK line is mostly handmade, no robots used.

The construction with an attached brass bolster is FAR more complex and difficult than a welded stainless tang / bolster, and the tapering adds to the complexity. Both the tang and blade have to be ground in order to get the tapering, and grinding (even on machines) never is a process with 100% precision. After grinding, you still need a flat surface for attaching the bolster, in order to avoid gaps. Both bolster and handle have to be glued on to the tang, since there must be absolutely no gaps between bolster, handle and tang.

As for the tang, additional to tapering, the tang of each knife is weight adjusted in order to get the balance to the exact points as specified by Bob Kramer.

Getting the gradual distal taper on the blade was another challenge, also considering that a LOT of metal needed to be removed off a hardened blade (> HRC 60), especially on the Chef's knives where we start with an original material thickness of 4 mm. On the 8" and 10" that meant several passes on grinding machines. Usually a Japanese Gyutoh is not made from 4 mm material and doesn't have a distal taper like the ZK. Definitely NOT just a simple grind...

Another issue is getting the brass bolster into its final shape. You can't use casting processes like with stainless steel. Thus you need to grind / mill the bolster into shape from a block of brass. Both ways are far more difficult / expensive than a cast stainless bolster.

The handle is far from easy to produce. It is fully rounded. This means 1st that you can't use simple flat head rivets. You need solid ones. 2nd you have no flat area along the rivets (unlike many other knives), which requires many additional steps in handle grinding. We agree the handle has a similar level of complexity in grinding than a Hattori FH, but this already is a very complex handle. Most handles on the market are A LOT easier to finish.

Another factor that is very time consuming in production is the rounding and mirror finishing of choil, tang and back of the blade. It's exponentially more expensive than a less rounded finish and considerably more expensive than a rounded satin finish.

We hope that that this post will contribute to creating an understanding (and maybe some appreciation for the fact) that this is not just another mass produced knife.

ZWILLING Japan

Thank you for a detailed explanation. As long as most of heavy stock removal is done by machines, the remaining work done by hand makes sense (4mm to .5mm at the tip is a lot of metal to remove).

M

bieniek
07-30-2012, 08:55 AM
so much so for the bollocks about robots :eyebrow:

Marko Tsourkan
07-30-2012, 09:16 AM
So far we as ZWILLING have avoided posting on forums, but once knife makers start getting involved in discussions, we feel the urge to step in.

The target of the ZK line was to produce a replica of Bob Kramer's original straight carbon Euro line in a series production setting, with all features and materials to be identical to the original. That included:

- straight distal tapering of blade and tang
- brass bolster and rivets
- mosaic pin

The specs of the line dictated the production environment at our Japanese factory. Most of the machines used for the production of MIYABI couldn't be used. We had to build a new factory for this line. As we knew this would be a niche product with comparatively small production lots, automation made little sense, so that the ZK line is mostly handmade, no robots used.

The construction with an attached brass bolster is FAR more complex and difficult than a welded stainless tang / bolster, and the tapering adds to the complexity. Both the tang and blade have to be ground in order to get the tapering, and grinding (even on machines) never is a process with 100% precision. After grinding, you still need a flat surface for attaching the bolster, in order to avoid gaps. Both bolster and handle have to be glued on to the tang, since there must be absolutely no gaps between bolster, handle and tang.

As for the tang, additional to tapering, the tang of each knife is weight adjusted in order to get the balance to the exact points as specified by Bob Kramer.

Getting the gradual distal taper on the blade was another challenge, also considering that a LOT of metal needed to be removed off a hardened blade (> HRC 60), especially on the Chef's knives where we start with an original material thickness of 4 mm. On the 8" and 10" that meant several passes on grinding machines. Usually a Japanese Gyutoh is not made from 4 mm material and doesn't have a distal taper like the ZK. Definitely NOT just a simple grind...

Another issue is getting the brass bolster into its final shape. You can't use casting processes like with stainless steel. Thus you need to grind / mill the bolster into shape from a block of brass. Both ways are far more difficult / expensive than a cast stainless bolster.

The handle is far from easy to produce. It is fully rounded. This means 1st that you can't use simple flat head rivets. You need solid ones. 2nd you have no flat area along the rivets (unlike many other knives), which requires many additional steps in handle grinding. We agree the handle has a similar level of complexity in grinding than a Hattori FH, but this already is a very complex handle. Most handles on the market are A LOT easier to finish.

Another factor that is very time consuming in production is the rounding and mirror finishing of choil, tang and back of the blade. It's exponentially more expensive than a less rounded finish and considerably more expensive than a rounded satin finish.

We hope that that this post will contribute to creating an understanding (and maybe some appreciation for the fact) that this is not just another mass produced knife.

ZWILLING Japan

Thank you for a detailed explanation and clarification of your production processes.

As long as most of heavy stock removal is done by machines, the remaining work done by hand makes sense (4mm to .5mm at the tip is a lot of metal to remove), thought is is still a pretty labor intensive process for a production knife. Kind of strange to see it coming from a company that invested heavily in automation in the past decades.

The reference to a simple grind had more to do with partially flat/partially convex grind, then overall grind (distal taper, tapered tang etc). I guess it is a forum lingo that gives a snapshot on a knife's performance. With exception of few grinds (and some are not applicable for Western knives), most are simple grinds.

If a bulk of operations is done by hand as I understood from your post (grinding, milling, cutting slots in the brass, fitting, peening) and not on CNC, I tip my hat to you, as I have discovered myself, it is quite a bit of work. In this case, my comparing your production to that of Lamson was not justified, and I take it back.

M

Crothcipt
07-30-2012, 09:54 AM
Ty for your response, I had put these knives on the back of the list. But, now they have moved up quite a bit.

Oh ya and Welcome!!

pitonboy
07-30-2012, 10:20 AM
I find it interesting that Zwilling felt compelled to respond to this forum.

I wonder if then the ZK is more manually constructed than previously thought, but is then susceptible to those kind of issues of fit and finish that some Japanese hand-made knives are prone to (cf. Moritaka)? In other words, is the design being executed in a pretty fair but not exceptional manner?

NO ChoP!
07-30-2012, 10:25 AM
That was pretty awesome... It's a rarity, and I welcome the presence.

I think many of the knuts around here put raw performance first. They would put their $400 towards a simple ho handled blade with stellar performance; Watanabe, Yoshikane, Shig, etc...

Now, if you want that kind of performance in the blade, PLUS a fancy handle with brass bolster, exotic wood, mosaic pins, highly polished blade areas, taper, etc... you would pay closer to $1000 or more... (or $30k for a real Kramer)

I think the ZKramer is a poor mans full custom; and that was exactly what it is intended to be.

NO ChoP!
07-30-2012, 10:42 AM
Hey, maybe if we have Zwilling presence we should throw some stuff at them...

...are you ever going to do a Zwilling version of the Meiji Kramer line?

...are you going to ever do anything with ZDP-189 steel again (or other PM steels)? The Twin Cermax was an exceptional value...

...do you have any other projects that are geared towards knife enthusiasts?

...any other projects with known knife makers? (there are a few around these parts; hint, hint)


And, I'll finish with my own project idea. Vintage Henckel and Sabatier have become quite the rage around here. It is the lesser belly and carbon steel that are enticing. Would you consider doing a pure carbon Zwilling, classic profiled, plain and simple, homage to yesteryears, line?

Crothcipt
07-30-2012, 10:57 AM
chop I don't think Zwilling will do another lines classic (henckel and sab.) style. I could see working with some others here. But with as much work the put into Kramers line a BB would be right up there with his work. So I wouldn't think so. Love the idea's though.

chinacats
07-30-2012, 11:03 AM
And, I'll finish with my own project idea. Vintage Henckel and Sabatier have become quite the rage around here. It is the lesser belly and carbon steel that are enticing. Would you consider doing a pure carbon Zwilling, classic profiled, plain and simple, homage to yesteryears, line?

+1

and thanks for stopping by to add to the discussion

Eamon Burke
07-30-2012, 11:54 AM
On the 8" and 10" that meant several passes on grinding machines. Usually a Japanese Gyutoh is not made from 4 mm material and doesn't have a distal taper like the ZK. Definitely NOT just a simple grind...


Thanks for jumping in here, because I would really like to understand this one point better.

This is a grinding machine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QC9g3CObDcs
That is what I was referring to as a robot. If there isn't a person holding the knife and checking it, the grind seems to suffer. Why is it that a machine, which does not make mistakes like people do, cannot put a level grind on a knife that is appropriately thin? It just seems crazy to me that a grinding machine would put out a grind that one would expect from an amateur knife maker.

Here is a knife NOT being made by a robot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dym61BvH5rA&feature=player_embedded
And yet these knives are way better ground and set in the same price range, with WAY lower distributorship. What gives?

Dave Martell
07-30-2012, 12:14 PM
We've seen more than a few business entities show up on this forum and most all of them use company server email accounts for obvious reasons. The member "ZWILLING" is using a gmail account, the IP address appears to be located in Germany.

Maybe they will supply a name and contact information to validate their identity?

Eamon Burke
07-30-2012, 12:37 PM
It'd be nice to have someone to talk to that's in the know. They've got to know that more and more people don't just want to hear foreign words and metallurgical BS.

From what little I've managed to see of the nitty gritty on the factory floor for these kinds of production knives, it's an engineering marvel, but this one area seems a consistent disappointment to me. Why can Tojiro make a San-Mai western integral that retails for $80, and yet nobody has a machine that can grind like Pierre Rodrigue?

JohnnyChance
07-30-2012, 12:42 PM
Why can Tojiro make a San-Mai western integral that retails for $80, and yet nobody has a machine that can grind like Pierre Rodrigue?

I'm confused, what does one have to do with the other?

Eamon Burke
07-30-2012, 01:03 PM
Because if they can manage to figure out that massive conundrum, why can't they put their heads to the more important issue?

Why have they solved so many cutlery production problems with brilliant solutions, but skipped the most important one?

You must remember, at one point, no knives were made by machines. They were handmade by necessity. So when they started making machines to replace the men, they had to replicate or re-invent what it takes to create the product people want. So "how can we get a machine to shape a bolster cheaper and more reliably than a person?" is a question that got addressed. Look at how Damasteel is made--it's mind blowing that anyone figured that out, and just to have pretty knives. Well, where's the grind? Why is it that people are out-machining robots?

Eamon Burke
07-30-2012, 01:47 PM
Well, I feel like I've been pretty clear, and haven't done much other than raise legitimate issues I see every day, and still have yet to get an answer for.

However, it has been brought to my attention that people are a lot more emotionally invested in this thing, and I might be upsetting some of you somehow. Also it seems I am not being understood in the least.

I realize this is my deficiency and not anyone else's. I'm not capable of gauging this kind of thing, and don't have much of an outlet for my thoughts as a result.

Sorry if I offended anyone.

jaybett
07-30-2012, 04:13 PM
Well, I feel like I've been pretty clear, and haven't done much other than raise legitimate issues I see every day, and still have yet to get an answer for.

However, it has been brought to my attention that people are a lot more emotionally invested in this thing, and I might be upsetting some of you somehow. Also it seems I am not being understood in the least.

I realize this is my deficiency and not anyone else's. I'm not capable of gauging this kind of thing, and don't have much of an outlet for my thoughts as a result.

Sorry if I offended anyone.

Let us recap....

One of your early posts was that the only reason you could see people picking up a KZ was that the choil was shiny. How were owners of KZ suppose to respond to that?

Then you declared that you would rather have a knife by Takeda and Hiromoto instead of a KZ. Takeda while being an excellent knife, has all sorts of issues. Hiromoto AS is a thicker knife, that isn't known for being a great cutter.

Next you tried the values argument, that there were better deals then the KZ. Curiously you never mentioned one.

The issue of the knife being made with robots, was brought up. Somehow it was okay for the Addict series, but not the KZ. The post made by Zwilling seems to imply that they don't use robots in the production.

Then the over/under grind of issue of the ZK. Not much of an argument, since all knives, even ones from high end makers suffer from this issue.

The issue then became, why can't machines grind as well as humans? What does that have to do with KZ?

Jay

Mucho Bocho
07-30-2012, 04:15 PM
Eamon, I'm not offended. Like someone one this forum said "If one is looking for offense, they will find it" or something like that. If someone is offended, they don't know you or where your coming from.

I gota ask, the kitchen that you shoot your videos is, is that your home or your parents? Just a very nice house and you look like you just graduated HS. Meaning very youthful :biggrin:

Lucretia
07-30-2012, 08:17 PM
Just spent some time oiling knife handles--customs, handmade, and factory made. Including a ZK.

I'd have to say after looking them over--and this is ENTIRELY subjective--that the knives that have been the biggest disappointments/least value for the $ are hand made. And the knives that make my heart go pitter pat are also handmade. But my off the shelf knives that I like quite a bit--and the ZK falls into this category--are good, dependable, bang for the buck knives (especially if you catch them on a big sale--something you probably won't encounter with handmade knives.) They might not always be my first choice, but they aren't anything I'll be getting rid of any time soon.

As far as "why can't the factory equipment grind like a person"--it probably can. And more consistently. But you need someone who knows what they're doing to design the process, and you need to be willing to pay for setup costs and quality control, taking into consideration your target market. Probably most things you buy can be made "better"--but it may not be worth it to the manufacturer to do more than "good enough". Where you and I draw the line for "good enough" may be different.

EdipisReks
07-30-2012, 11:09 PM
anybody see the new stainless series on SLT's website?

jaybett
07-30-2012, 11:33 PM
Just took a look. Damascus fans should be happy.

Jay

Johnny.B.Good
07-31-2012, 12:11 AM
anybody see the new stainless series on SLT's website?

Timely video:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt5LYltku9U&feature=player_embedded#!

James
07-31-2012, 01:05 AM
it seems like just another shun kramer

Namaxy
07-31-2012, 01:12 AM
Kramer at SLT reminds me of Bose speakers for sale in the airplane seatback magazine....lots of marketing and hype...but not that good.

Lucretia
07-31-2012, 12:58 PM
Sounds like they had too many people returning their knives for getting rusty and having the handles fare badly from sitting around in puddles unwashed--not to mention an occasional trip to the dishwasher-- so time to make them stainless with micarta handles. Wonder how that SG2 is going to fare in electric knife sharpeners?

Went to the SLT page for look at the stainless knives, and am shocked :bigeek: by how much the price on my ZK has increased. At the current prices, it's a lot less bang for the buck.

Mucho Bocho
07-31-2012, 04:54 PM
Well said about Bose. Eventhough they are a Massachusetts based company

NO ChoP!
07-31-2012, 05:00 PM
After 15% discount that puts the 210mm at $340. A comparable sg2 or PM damascus blade with mosaic pins from the likes of Takeshi, Tanaka, Itou, etc...would run no less than $450. Maybe not such a rip off after all.

deanb
07-31-2012, 07:41 PM
This has been an interesting thread for me. I was just getting into Japanese knives about the time that the Shun Kramers came out and I bought the set with 5 knives. I've never been sorry about that purchase. The chef's knife and santoku both have convex profiles so no wedging. I love the paring knife and utility knife and the bread knife is the best I've used. The chef's knife and santoku were a little chippy at first but not so much after a couple sharpenings. A few years later I was able to buy a real Kramer 9" 52100 chef's knife. I have quite a few high end Japanese gyutos and the Kramer beats them all (for me). One great attribute of the Kramer is the distal taper on both the blade and handle. Magnificent. When the 52100 Zwilling Kramers came out I got a 10" chef's knife. I had none of the problems mentioned earlier in this thread. Fit and finish were flawless, the grind was perfectly symmetric, and I had no scale shrinkage (although I did saturate the hell out of the handle with camellia oil), and it has a very good distal taper on both the blade and handle. All these knives take and hold a very good edge. Now I see that SLT has the ZK in SG2. I really like the looks of that 10" chef's knife. Having some experience with SG2 in the Shun Kramers, I like it a lot. If the ZK SG2 is as thin as the 52100 ZK then I'm gonna get one. Looks like I'm going to have to make a trip to my nearest SLT which is about 40 miles away.

Mucho Bocho
08-01-2012, 03:24 PM
Am I the only one of this forum that has the WS Meiji in SG2? Its the absolute bomb. reminds me of Butch Harner. The steel is unchippable, last longer than my Kono HD's, blows away any color of Hitachi. They are discontinued now. I paid $179. Bottom row center.

http://i1051.photobucket.com/albums/s426/dennismpintoii/IMG_2121.jpg

Lucretia
08-02-2012, 06:03 PM
I pulled out my ZK a couple times today rather than one of my other knives. First time was for pork ribs--cutting through the cryovac, peeling the membrane off, general cleanup stuff. I can use the ZK without worrying about messing it up cutting plastic or hitting a bone. It sharpens easily if gets dull when using it for things I shouldn't, and if it really gets damaged, I can order another one just like it and get immediately. It's my Star Trek red shirt knife.

It's also my favorite knife for making rolls. I just like the way it goes through the dough without sticking, and it's really easy to clean up afterwards.

NO ChoP!
08-02-2012, 09:12 PM
The Shun Kramers don't mimic the Kramer taper as accurately as the Zwilling; although, I've only seen the westerns, and not the Meiji. If I wasn't lefty those Meijis may have been more enticing to me, as well.

I hate to admit I am mildly intrigued by the new ZKramers in SG2...

Midsummer
02-08-2014, 09:47 AM
Am I the only one of this forum that has the WS Meiji in SG2? Its the absolute bomb. reminds me of Butch Harner. The steel is unchippable, last longer than my Kono HD's, blows away any color of Hitachi. They are discontinued now. I paid $179. Bottom row center.

http://i1051.photobucket.com/albums/s426/dennismpintoii/IMG_2121.jpg

I got one too. Its my wife favorite. It takes a wicked edge easily. It feels good on the stones and I have noticed that I can go months without a touch up and it is still shaving sharp (I do most of the cooking though).

SolidSnake03
11-12-2014, 07:16 AM
Hey, kinda reviving an old thread here but wondering if anyone had some advice/techniques on avoiding handle shrinkage on these knives.

Currently you can get the Kramer 52100 8in Chefs for <$200 with SLT discount code and im considering picking one up for fun. My only concern is the handle shrinking, gaps and or rough edges or spacing that would occur would bug the heck out of me.....

Im a F&F perfectionist...what can i sau (shrugs)

chinacats
11-12-2014, 11:03 AM
Hey, kinda reviving an old thread here but wondering if anyone had some advice/techniques on avoiding handle shrinkage on these knives.


$200 plus the cost of a stabilized wood handle upgrade locally (another ~150-200) and you will satisfy your needs.

marc4pt0
11-12-2014, 11:39 AM
I just sanded down the handles on my Kramers, took all but 30 minutes. Then just rubbed in some mineral oil and they're good to go! The shrinkage isn't terrible, just need to smooth out the rivets some. Heck, once you sand it down and oil it, the handle looks ten times better!
Plus $200 for this knife is an awesome deal. You'd kind of be silly not to get it.

SolidSnake03
11-12-2014, 03:02 PM
China,
I really dont want to replace the Kramer handle unless i can do so with a stabilized one that has the same shape. I have pretty large hands and the Kramer shape fits me quite well. Mostly was hoping to just preserve what was already there.

Good suggestion on the sanding and mineral oil. Was wondering if maybe a mineral oil soak right when i get it might help?

Lefty
11-12-2014, 08:14 PM
Mineral oil might do it, but they are natural wood, so fluctuations in ambient humidity will be a constant battle. I'd do as Marc does, and sand down the edges of the steel, and at least they won't be noticeable when the wood is at its smallest, and the scales will fit fine once plumped up with humidity/oil.

Also, his new stainless line has handles that won't shrink. Just sayin'. :)

SolidSnake03
11-12-2014, 08:23 PM
Thanks for the advice Lefty!

Valid point on the Stainless line but that one isn't on sale at all at SLT meaning that for an 8' the Carbon 52100 is essentially the same price (something like $20 diff). I think for the same price the 52100 one might be the better knife?

Lefty
11-12-2014, 08:37 PM
Meh. Both have really good steels, HT, F and F, grinds...it just comes down to whether or not you like stainless or carbon. The stainless is "essentially AEB-L", and we all know how much people love that stuff.

SolidSnake03
11-12-2014, 11:06 PM
I figured the stainless was AEB-L but having no experience with 52100 couldn't really comment on either compared to the other. I figured that the brass pieces as well as the handle were the explanation for the carbon being more than the stainless? Is there any other discernable differences? The geo looks the same as well as the handles but spine thickness as well as distal taper could differ here depending on material?

Just trying to gain a better understanding of if it is worth it to go carbon (Kramer 52100) vs. the Kramer Essential in this case where price between the two is equal....


Thanks

ramenlegend
11-13-2014, 12:19 AM
I banged out my prep today with a display 52100 zkramer I got few months back from sur la table for $175.I loved every minute of it. I wish they had a 10in instead of a 8in. AEBL is for housewives and little girls (just kidding :)) On a serious note, the essential is the same profile, but the knife is ground a lot thinner. The 52100 has a super thin tip, but it is a sexy beefy work horse. hope this helps

Erik

marc4pt0
11-13-2014, 12:45 AM
I've had the 10" for a couple years now and it by far has the most mileage of all my knives. I bought a 10" Essential just a couple months ago to check it out. It's thinner then the carbon, yet the carbon still has that crazy thin distal taper.

SolidSnake03
11-13-2014, 09:20 AM
Awesome! Really am quite excited to hear all that. While i have your ears so to speak, which do you find to be the better all around general use kitchen knife? The Essential or the 52100?

As in, if you only had to keep one which would it be? And why?

Also, i do like to pull cut on softer stuff, do you find the profile problematic for this? I push cut and chop a good bit too, just wondering how she pulls bases on that geo....

Thanks!

marc4pt0
11-13-2014, 10:09 AM
Honestly, they're so close in cutting, the carbon performing just a touch better, that it really boils down to price and preference in steel. You'll find that both will benefit from a little thinning, but not right off the bat. Enjoy and learn the otb geometry a bit before tinkering around.

SolidSnake03
11-13-2014, 12:12 PM
Sounds good!

Any other impressions?

Also any comment on the pull cutting? The tip and profile just look a bit funky but i know SLT is wondrful on returns so worst case if it didnt work im covered.

Definitely considering the carbon since ive never used a mono steel carbon before and that handle is pretty nice looking

Lefty
11-13-2014, 12:25 PM
Pull through cuts with the tip will blow your mind. The Kramer tip is the best in the business. Virtually perfect distal taper. I can't remember who, but I think it was No Chop, or johnnychance who compared the Kramer profile to a chinese cleaver (at the back) with a perfect tip. Once you get used to the size and feel of it, it is funny going back to other profiles. I love a tall blade, largely because of Bob Kramer, and Will Catcheside.

Zwiefel
11-13-2014, 02:36 PM
Pull through cuts with the tip will blow your mind. The Kramer tip is the best in the business. Virtually perfect distal taper.

I dunno, the k-tip on my DTN is pretty $%^# amazing. The best one I've personally seen.

Lefty
11-13-2014, 05:04 PM
I dunno, the k-tip on my DTN is pretty $%^# amazing. The best one I've personally seen.

I was just looking at the one Don has available right now. He does great work, for sure.

SolidSnake03
11-13-2014, 07:40 PM
Good to hear about the tip, sounds like a workhorse through the back but a laser like tip up front?

Sounds very interesting, i think the geo is something that just needs to be tried to see if it clicks :)