I recently had the incredible opportunity to visit master bladesmith Bob Kramer’s knife making workshop in Olympia, WA. Bob’s culinary knives are the most coveted in the world, fetching thousands of dollars each. Although Bob’s lends his name to a production line of Shun knives sold by Sur La Table, this workshop is where he crafts his one-of-a-kind masterpieces that are sought after by chefs and steel fetishists everywhere.
Part of the allure of Bob’s knives is the elaborate Damascus pattern he achieves in the blade by pounding together layers of different types of steel. Much like making puff pastry, Bob flattens and folds the steel layers on themselves, pounding them with power hammers, until they are fractions of a millimeter thick, with up to 10,000 layers in the width of the blade.
In the video below, Bob gave us a demo of making a Damascus slab out of a length of steel cable. If you like surf-rock metalworking montages, you’re gonna love this. Many thanks to Bob Kramer for the tour, and for expert knife sharpener Bob Tate for making this kick-ass tour happen.