on April 18, 2005
I'll start by saying that I own both this knife and the Wusthof Classic 8" chef's knife, and I love them both to death. I tend to use the Shun more for cutting up poultry and such, because the steel is harder (less steeling when doing heavy work); and I use the Wusthof more for mincing and dicing veggies (much easier to use the bolster grip when doing these tasks). Quite frankly, in my humble opinion, when you are in this price range, comfort and aesthetics are going to be bigger factors than relative sharpness. Provided you clean and maintain the knives properly, you will be putting them in your will to a deserving heir.
Note to sharpness snobs: NO stainless knife can touch an old-fashioned carbon steel knife for sharpness. If you don't believe me, go and see what your butcher uses. The problem with old-fashioned carbon steel knives is that they are very high- maintenance and will look ugly after a while no matter what you do.
Personally, if I had to choose, I'd take the Wusthof solely on the basis of my personal feel and the fact that the blade is a little easier to hone than the Shun. I am just glad I don't have to choose, but if you do, I can't recommend strongly enough getting out to a store and handling the knives before you buy. When you're in this neighborhood, about the only way you can choose badly is by not buying the knife that feels best in your own hand. You're going to get a top-quality product whichever way you go.
on September 24, 2015
For many years, I have used similar knive Fuji knife with great satisfaction because it also has stripe pattern design on its blade. In my opinion, cheap knives are a waste of time--good knives are a joy forever. By "cheap" I mean badly crafted knives, not inexpensive knives, because it's always possible to find a moderately-priced knives that outperforms knives double or triple the price. So far I have had no trouble with this knife. It cuts clean and smooth, which is really what I require in a knife. From vegetables, fruits and some thin meats I was cutting for a stir fry, it did it all. The handle felt sturdy in my had, not cheaply made or like it was going to break if I over worked it. All in all it's not the best knife in my kitchen but it's a pretty good one. I'd buy it again if it was part of a set at a reasonable price. I didn't feel the price it's listed is worth one knife- it's not THAT good.
on July 9, 2004
After using a few of the Global knives, with the 7" oriental chef's knife being my everyday knife, I decided after a marathon day of chopping that I wanted someting a little heavier. After holding a few 10" chef knives, I decided these were bigger than I needed, and settled on the 8" chef as my new workhorse. It came down between the Global GF series 8", a Ryussen, and the Shun. After holding and test-driving all three, I settled on the Shun. It is by far the best combination of sharpness (wow!), weight (slightly heavier than the Ryussen and the Global), handle comfort (you don't notice the offset handle when you hold it, until you pick up the Ryussen or Global and it's not there, and then you miss it terribly), and price. In fact, for the rather small price difference between this beauty and the Global, I wouldn't even consider not spending it. Of course, it doesn't quite have the balance of the $1300 Hattori they also had on hand, but this is a great knife that makes me want to stop writing this review and go out and slice something. Highly recommended.
I'll get this out of the way: I love Wuesthof and Shun knives. I prefer Wuesthof and Shun over Henckels and Global because the handles of the latter two brands don't fit my hand well. The MAC 'Ultimate' series feels good in my hand (their other lines don't), but I can't justify spending double of what a Shun costs if I'm not a professional cook.
These are my personal needs. Try different knives, and choose what fits your hand, budget, and cooking style. If you do like the way a Shun feels, I guarantee that you'll like it.
Despite the pleasure one gets from turning a mound of raw ingredients into a beautiful meal, that prep is a b$7@h! So, having a good knife (or knives) is essential for making things go quickly and smoothly, counter-side.
I have to admit that I was a total kitchen-hypocrite, in that I had THE BEST knives for my outdoor activities (I worked as a fishing guide in Alaska, so I filleted a lot of fish and just plain cut up a bunch of stuff), and I always preached about having the best tool for the job, but all I had for kitchen use were REALLY bad knives. I would tirelessly sharpen my work knives so that I could literally shave my face with them, but I would rarely keep my cooking knives keen.
I recently inherited my grandmother's Wuesthof 8" chef's knife. It was sharp, but so old that the wood (yes, wood. It was _that_ old) handles were splitting off of the tang, and her white, mechanical, counter-top sharpener from hell had ground out the belly. I wanted to get another chef's knife to keep it company, and after a lot of research settled on this 8" Shun.
The Shun has a slightly thinner blade, so it's not uncomfortable to forego the bolster-grip that I feel is required for the heavier Wuesthof (unless you're hacking the crap out of something with a Wuesthof) for a whole-handle grip. Each knife has it's place in my kitchen, though, so I'm glad that I have them.
This knive is beautiful to look at, beautiful to hold, and beautiful to work with. It does what it's supposed to do -slice and chop things- really well.
If you're not the type of person who will properly hand-wash, sharpen, hone, and all-around love your knives, you should go with a knife that has a serrated edge and a synthetic handle. If you treat your Shun knife well, though, it will make cooking fun... trust me. This thing is a work-horse, despite it's beauty, so be prepared to let it chop as much as IT wants to.
WARNING: DON'T USE BASIC MECHANICAL OR PRE-ANGLED SHARPENERS ON YOUR SHUN! Shun knives have a smaller-angled edge, and this will be ground down to a wider angle if you use most standard sharpeners. Wider-angled blades are less prone to getting dinged edges (and the bane of any knife: a chipped edge) and their sharpness will "last" a little longer (for what we can tell, comparatively), but they'll never be as blisteringly sharp as knives with smaller-angled edges. Be careful, or your razor-sharp knife will become plain-ol'-sharp.
on May 3, 2006
I read a lot of reviews before making this purchase, then I went to a Williams Sonoma and handled the knife before making a final decision. Many have recommended that you handle the knives before purchasing... I also recommend this. Holding the knife in my hand is what locked the sale for me! I own a set of Trident (Wusthof) Grand Prix kninves, and wonderful knives they are. As I've been trying to teach myself better knife skills, I've been working at forming the proper hold (what chefs call the "pinch" hold). With the Wusthoff, I have to concentrate on it, because the knife never fit in my hand perfectly. The Shun is amazing in this regard. I will also say that I do have small hands... that seems to make a difference in whether many will like the Shun or not, but it definitely felt natural in my hand. I handled the Global alongside the Shun and put it down immediately (don't like the grip at all!). I've only been using the Shun for two days, but have already started thinking about a couple more additions to the ol' knife block. Is it sharp? Absolutely, everything cut like warm butter. Is that design, or the fact that it's brand new? I'll know in a few weeks! Again, before you purchase, handle the knife in a store, or a freinds kitchen or something. The way a knife feels in your hand should be the major decider.
on May 9, 2005
This was a difficult knife to rate, because on the one hand it is a very nice knife, and on the other, I can't recommend that you buy one.
1) This is a beautiful knife. I don't prep with it, but it has a permanent place on my magnetic strip, because I just like looking at it. If you want a Damascus-pattern Japanese knife that looks pretty, this is a good choice. You must also look at the Hattori HD (different Damascus style, black Western style handle with visible rivets), and the A.G. Russell Damascus (better Damascus pattern with white Eastern handles and visible rivets). They are harder to find, but nothing a quick Google won’t fix.
2) Do not buy this knife unless you have held it, and preferably used it. This is true of any knife. Handle comfort and balance are extremely personal issues. My love affair with this knife ended as soon as I took it out of the box. I'm a right hander with large hands and I use a pinch grip. I like my knife balanced exactly on my working fingers. With its curved, offset bolster and ridged handle, it's specially designed for a right hander with small hands, using a pinch grip, and even then it's mediocre. Using that grip, the balance is 2cm (3/4") nose heavy. My $25 10" Forschner Fibrox embarrasses this knife in term of handle comfort and balance. The only Shun knife with a real handle is the Ken Onion custom.
3) This knife is razor sharp out of the box. But really, any good knife will take a 15 degree edge, you just have to be willing to put it on yourself (or find a pro you can trust to do it for you). My Wusthof Grand Prix has a 15 degree edge and is as sharp as this knife, and gives me at least 50 hours on the board before I need to touch it up with my Sharpmaker. The same goes for my Forschner. VG10 is better steel, but you will still need to hone it with a sharpening steel, and it will still go dull on you. It’s only 7% harder than the average good knife and the Vanadium helps but isn’t going to change your life.
If you just want a light knife with a thin spine, you can get the same thing for a quarter the money from a Forschner or some other industrial (F. Dick Pro-Dynamic or Messermeister Four Seasons, etc) If you want a light, razor sharp Japanese knife with a hard blade, you can get the same blade performance and a better handle for half the money from a Tojiro DP.
4) If you're in the market for a Japanese knife and want a complete set of Eastern and Western shapes, your only real options are the Shun or the Globals. I'd rather have a Hattori, but they don't make a bread knife, or a western boning knife, or a Chinese cleaver, or a paring knife (although the petty knives will do most of the same jobs). But unless you're really attached to the idea of a matching set, buy this knife and the 3.5" paring knife, and go industrial on the rest. A $15 Forschner boning knife will spank the $90 Shun boning knife. The same goes for the bread knife. All pimpery aside, if you ask Alton Brown, he’ll tell you that a $100 bread knife is a waste of money (but he’ll still be more than happy to sell you one).
5) The 9" Shun sharpening steel is too short for this knife. Find a nice 12" sharpening steel, or buy a 12" fine ceramic steel. The ceramic steel will take off metal, so if you don't really know how to use a steel, stick with metal; it's more forgiving of bad form.
All that said, this is a good knife. The edge is flawless, the steel is good, it’s pretty, it has a nice blade shape, and the price is reasonable. If you like the hand-feel and don't have any trouble paying the mortgage, it will be money well spent. But I still prep with my Forschner, and leave the 10” Shun on the strip next to the 10” Global and the 10” Wusthof to impress any foodies that happen to wander through my kitchen, and as a silent testament to Brown, Bourdain, and my dream that Rachel Ray will someday learn how to use a real knife.
on November 27, 2004
After years of using Forschner knives and enjoying their company, I decided to treat myself to a non-Forschner blade for use in the kitchen. Internet searches led me to a host of Japanese knives and in particular the Kershaw Shun Chef's knife.
I wanted something utilitarian, stainless, western-edged and fitting a large hand. Reading the many positive reviews about this knife was enough to give it a chance.
What a knife! As much as the Forschners have been a pleasure over the past two decades, this Shun is quite remarkable. Perfectly balanced with not too thick of blade, the final edge is one to be admired. I can't get too much to cut with this knife in hand. It made my Thanksgiving dinner prep a breeze from cutting white bread in perfect cubes and vegetables for dressing to carving the turkey with razor-like precision slices. Enough!
I'm looking at purchasing two other Shuns to complete my kitchen collection: the 9" bread knife and 6" utility. If they perform anywhere near the Chef's ability, I'll be handing off my old buddy Forschners to my daughters to be kept in the family.
I hesitate to make negative reviews on Amazon due to some of the responses and comments I have gotten which are unprofessional and rather hurtful. So sometimes I find myself not making a review at all if I did not like a product. If someone disagrees with my assessment, I kindly ask you to disagree with me in a professional manner, and I will likewise show you the same courtesy and respect. After all, opinions differ and this is my personal opinion. I do not claim to be right...just a guy with an impression formed from his own experience. Disagreement isn't a crime and I welcome mature discussion whether it is in agreement or disagreement with my opinions! ☺
This was one of the first higher end knives I purchased, and if I could do it over again I probably would not have purchased it (or I would have purchased it used to save a little money). It isn't that the knife is terrible...the handle is comfortable, the cosmetics are pleasing, and it outperforms many big box knives...BUT, it is priced higher than other knives with the same level of performance. For example, a Tojiro 8in Chefs Knife costs less than a third the price of this Shun, and, while not as cosmetically pretty, I think it performs much better and that Tojiro produces better VG-10 steel than Shun does. If this Shun was around $60-80, it would be an awesome addition to the kitchen. But at this current price range, I think there are better options available and that potential buyers may want to examine other options before pulling the trigger on this Shun.
Being a bit of a knife nut, I have purchased many different style kitchen knives over the years. Some have been less than $5 and some over $500. There are many knives closer to the $5 side that I like a lot, and when looking at a less expensive knife, I try to form my opinion keeping in mind it has greater value than very expensive knives. For example, I really like my Mercer chef knife and while I do not like it as much as my 270mm Konosuke Fujimaya or my Takeda, it costs 1/6th of the Kono or Takeda.
As noted above, I think pricing affects the assessment of how well a knife does or does not perform, and the Shun is priced competitively with knives that are better in every which way. The price of the 8 inch Classic, much like the Premier, puts it in a price range with the Konosuke HD, but there is a gigantic performance gap that makes it impossible to even compare the knives. Consequently, I find it hard to justify the Shun given within the hardcore chef knife communities that Konosuke is considered to be one of the best or THE best and my personal usage of both has found there to be a very big difference in performance.
As some other reviews show, Shun knives are sometimes known for being a little more chippy than others. While most-all Japanese knives are more prone to chipping, Shuns seem to be more prone than many other Japanese makers. I experienced chipping first hand and I was cutting a soft surface over an end grain maple butcher block (widely considered to be the best material for a cutting board.***) While Shuns come with a Lifetime warranty, Shun makes it very clear (on their website) that the Lifetime Warranty DOES NOT help you if chipping occurs, and Shun tends not to cover chipping that occurs even from normal usage. So I feel at this price you can get a knife in the same (or better) steel with a superior heat treatment, resulting in a tougher blade that holds an edge longer and is less likely to chip. Many Japanese makers use VG-10 steel because it is a fantastic steel that can sport very good edge holding, very good toughness, excellent corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening. But given the heat treatment is what determines how well VG-10 steel performs, I feel there are other makers who just do a better job with the heat treatment, and at a price less than the Shun.
I do like the handle of the Classic, as I find that in-general I prefer the Eastern rounded or octagonal handle that most Japanese knives have more than the Western handle or the hybrid as seen on the Premier. If you use the fulcrum cutting motion, this handle makes usage more comfortable and helps you cut with less force...and honestly, I think if you go for an Eastern handle, you can really get your money's worth using this method given it greatly helps reduce fatigue from extended usage!!! I also really like the balance of the knife.
I do not mean to dog Shun as if I am saying they make "bad" knives because they don't...compared to most big-brand knives, they run circles around them. They are most certainly cosmetically pleasing. BUT, they are expensive and there are many smaller makers that offer what I believe to be better values. So if you are considering this knife, my personal advice is to consider some of the other options before buying this Shun, such as the Konosuke HD or HD2 given the Kono is priced the same. There are many makers that offer fantastic knives for less-than the price, or the same price, as the Shun, which I think you will like much more. Just a few makers include: Hiromoto, Kikuichi, Masamato, Kaneshige/Konosuke, Yoshihiro, SETO, Suisin, Misno, Tanaka, Takamura, and Tojiro. For a budget knife, Tojiro is probably my favorite brand and their $55 8-inch DP chef's knife is a fantastic performer. And if you check some of these or offering from some other makers out and decide the Shun is still the best knife for you personally, well now you have done even more research and can have even more confidence that you are picking the product which best matches your needs and preferences. :)
***NOTE that Shun is converting many of their VG-10 knives to newer VG-MAX steel. To my understanding, one reason is for greater toughness. I cannot speak to it first hand as my experience is with VG-10. Depending on the vendor you buy from, you may get a VG-MAX model, or a VG-10 one, given the transition is relatively recent.
Whatever knives you go with though, consider a maple cutting board, preferably one which is end-grain! End grain maple is as easy-going on knives as a board can be (you will sharpen your knives a lot less), a good maple board will last decades and can hide/'heal' scar markings, and recent research suggests hardwood boards are actually the MOST sanitary cutting surface of all materials currently on the market!***
on December 26, 2013
I must agree with the other 1 star reviewers about this knife. I hadn't seen one of these knives before last night, but my son in law owns one and yesterday evening at a family get together he asked me if I would sharpen it for him, as I have 20 years experience with sharpening Japanese kitchen knives. I noticed it had a few chips and also the tip had been broken off but I told him I could probably make it ok and brought it home with me.
This morning I took on the task. The tip was also slightly bent and that needed to be straightened before a proper sharpening, so I carefully began to straighten it with a precision pliers. To my surprise it instantly snapped off. This wasn't any big deal as it was only about 1/8" and I needed to repair the tip anyway, but it was so brittle I couldn't believe it. This is why the blades are chipping, as others have mentioned, and also in the case of this example. These blades are tempered to 61-62 Rockwell, which is very very hard, but they are also thin and lack the suppleness of a carbon steel blade, and they also lack the support of the lamination extending far enough down the blade, so they chip. I believe that the extreme hardness is intended to save users from frequent sharpening, but it is a failed idea because the other design aspects of the blade don't support it.
I was able to sharpen the knife without problem, as I have a lot of experience also in sharpening my wife's stainless kitchen knives. I didn't know much about stainless until I met her, but she provides a regular and excellent test of my abilities by tossing them in the sink and banging their edges against each other in the drawer, so I have accumulated a good set of sharpening tools for stainless steel.
First and foremost, one needs a diamond stone, which is not really a stone but a heavy piece of steel that has diamond dust attached to it. This is my primary tool for sharpening stainless knives and this can be found on Amazon. I do not ever use a sharpening steel. To me they are a useless device and a good regular touchup with the diamond or a strop is a better use of time. As well, I think if anyone used a sharpening steel on this type of blade, it would go into the garbage pail immediately afterward.
But back to this specimen in particular, the edge is very thin and one cannot put a long bevel on it for a truly razor edge or the chipping will become even more of a problem. As it is, no matter what Shun says, the angles are pretty steep and I will contend that the only reason they are as sharp as they are is because the blade is so thin. I do not believe their claim of narrow angle as it does not agree with what I observed in the sample I worked with.
I would suggest to any serious cook looking at a Japanese knife to seek out a good laminated carbon steel knife. You will spend 1/2 of the cost of this Shun knife for a decent entry level knife that will cut much better with a far more durable blade, and will provide a lifetime of enjoyment. I still have my first Japanese chef knife, purchased more than 20 years ago. It cost $29 then, is sharper than a razor, and would put this Shun knife to absolute shame for any kitchen task. I will bet that I could completely destroy the cutting edge of the Shun with the cutting edge of this humble knife and then go fix dinner with it afterward.
If you buy a good traditional Japanese knife you will learn to care for it by cleaning it after use, drying it carefully, occasionally oiling it with camellia oil, and putting away in it's own space. Because it isn't stainless, you will need to do all of this. You will learn to sharpen it, which is an enjoyable task because the carbon steel knives are hardened to more like 54 Rockwell, with a much more durable edge that will not require the kind of intensive edge maintenance and care in cutting that the Shun will. If you don't get the blade edge right the first time, you can try until you get it figured it out because good Japanese knives have plenty of blade material, for a lifetime of sharpening. That's the way I learned.
The appropriate sharpening tools can all be purchased with the money you will save by not purchasing this knife. More involvement with one's knives is a good thing, and teaches respect. Ask any serious Japanese chef.
As others have also pointed out, this knife's laminations are suspect. They look like some kind of applique or acid etching, not true laminations, but I can't tell for sure. If one truly wanted a folded lamination knife and is an avid cook, I would say that it is necessary to spend a lot more money and get something of true quality. I've seen absolutely beautiful and completely hand made Japanese damascus style knives in the $400 range. It would be worth saving for one of these to get a truly great knife, but I have found all of my needs are met by knives that cost somewhat less than this Shun, and the best of my knives are far better at what they can do than what I can do, so I have serious respect for them every second they are in my hands.
I'm advising my son in law to only use this knife for cutting herbs, soft vegetables, or boneless meats, and not to ever twist the blade while cutting into anything the least bit hard. Used in that way, I think it will be a fine knife but these tasks do not require such an expensive tool to accomplish reasonably.
Anyone else, I would advise to think twice before purchasing.
on November 4, 2007
I was in the market for a good chef's knife and after doing a bunch of research I narrowed it down to the Global 8 in chef and this Shun classic 8 in. So I brought with me celery, carrots, and onions to a william and sonoma and did a serious amount of cutting...here is what I personally found (keyword being personally you really cant buy a knife on reviews alone you MUST try it out first)
Celery: Both knifes went through this so easily that I couldnt even make a comparison
Carrots: With the global I was able to cut faster but it felt less secure because of the of the light weight. The shun was excellent, slicing through the carrots with a perfect weight and rhythm that I wasnt able to get with the global
Onion: This is where the Shun knife shined. The lack of weight on the global and the somewhat narrow handle made the onion haphazard and unsafe feeling for me. I found I had to constantly start and stop with the global knife. With the shun it was a constant effortless motion. It easily and accurately sliced and diced the onion.
After having the knife for a few weeks now, I can safely say I have been able to cut everything with ease. I was worried that the global might be better, but for me atleast, the shun was easily superior.