A partnership of two established bladesmiths recently relocated to my area, and I stopped into their shop yesterday to check them out. The business is called Vulcan Knifeworks, and their website is: http://vulcanknifeworks.com/What_we_d...
I mention them because one of the pair, Paul, studied with one of the Godfathers of American bladesmithing, Bill Moran. While Vulcan's style is not heavily into kitchen cutlery, it is obvious that Paul and his partner Thomas are highly skilled and capable. All operations other than forging are conducted on-site at their storefront, which is tidy and well-organized. My experience is that 'smiths who can excel at swords and Moran-style knives easily make high quality kitchen cutlery (basically how Kramer started out).
As you can see from their website, Vulcan favors blades forged from 5160 tool steel. 5160 is a high-carbon steel (Vulcan forges out its own barstock directly from railcar coilsprings) sought after, like 52100, for custom blades. But I was told they are comfortable working with any esoteric steels their customers might want.
When I asked yesterday about one-off chef's knives, I was given a price range of $200-$400 for a handforged 10" chef--and I wanted the CHers here to be able to consider how reasonable it is to have a knife made JUST FOR YOU. Kramers are now >$1200 if you win his "lottery", and the Shun Kramers are about this price for a mass-produced, smaller knife.
BTW, Vulcan has been exploring a similar arrangement with Shun as struck by Kramer and Ken Onion, and so here's the shock of the day: Shun Kramers and Onions are marked up 150 percent by the retailers.
Finally, Vulcan offers restoration work for "old favorite" blades, and sharpening at very reasonable prices (e.g., $5.50 for a 10-14" blade).
Just thought you might want to know...