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Saving Shun

Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:08 pm

One of the kitchen stores here that I sharpen for carries Shun knives and they are considering dropping the line due to a problem with chipping. It's no secret that they are very prone to chipping when new and in fact, out of the 50 or so I sharpened in the last 2 months, at least 25 of them had chips along the edge.

I'm going to recommend that he let me sharpen them prior to them being sold, this should strengthen the edge and alleviate the issue of unhappy customers bringing back knives that they have paid quite a bit for and are shocked to find them so easily damaged. This is not always a case of knife abuse either.

The purpose of this post is not to get your feelings on Shun, it's to ask you if you had similar experiences with these knives, in particular, do you find them much better in terms of edge strength once they have been sharpened. The Shun Classic comes from the factory with a 1k edge and it is very fragile, why not fix that issue right off the bat with a simple/quick sharpening. ?

Again, I already know how folks feel about this brand of knives, just curious if you agree that hypothetically, once sharpened, the chances of chipping is reduced substantially.


Re: Saving Shun

Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:29 pm

I wouldn't necessarily agree with the hypothetical....I've had several Shuns through the years, and they all chip, period. I've varied the angles of sharpening to more obtuse with little success. I've added micro bevel, pretty much the same result - maybe they chip somewhat less, but retention is worse. Harder cutting boards exacerbate the situation as well. However, they're fun to practice new methods of sharpening with. They're also good to give to people whom you don't trust with your good knives if they're cutting something in your kitchen.

I have a set of the Pros (i think it's the pros) the ones that look like single bevel but in reality have a pretty significant micro bevel. I changed them all to single bevel and they work pretty good as long as they don't contact a cutting board. It was also a great learning exercise.

I'm very anxious to hear other's experiences - especially if they've found a successful way of dealing with this problem.

Re: Saving Shun

Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:51 pm

Peter - I find it confusing that their OOTB edges are sharp, but have no bite. I would think a true 1K edge would have loads of bite. Every Shun I just did for the videos (about 20) had very consistent edge bevels, but no bite. A few quick swipes on my Idahone Fine Ceramic took care of the tooth issue in no time.

I still wonder how much of the chipping issue has to do with users new to this style of knife/steel and it's requirements. As an example, I had a Calphalon Katana 6" utility (chef type blade) for years and I experienced very little if any chipping. I recommended their 8" Chef to a friend a couple years ago (before I knew about CTKG). I offered to sharpen her knife a while back and that and a Katana utility she had were both chipped quite a bit. I've since seen her put them in the dishwasher, throw them in the sink, etc. etc. - it's definitely user treatment in this case.

Back to the Shun issue at hand - I would think a quick, more obtuse microbevel at a little higher level of refinement, say 3K-ish would certainly help.

I would love to see a study performed where 50-100 people who knew what they were doing with Japanese knives/steel were given Shun Classics to test drive for a couple of months and see how much blade chipping occurred. It think this would provide a more definitive answer to whether they are inherently "chippy" or not.

Re: Saving Shun

Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:06 pm

Thanks for the replies, much appreciated.
It has been my experience thus far that the edge is improved after sharpening, that is a fact, for me anyway.
I agree Steve that the issue is very likely abuse but not abuse the way we think about it, like throwing the knife in a drawer but cutting somewhat that is still not quite thawed out for example, something a cheap Henckels could handle without chipping.

I think the study idea is great and in fact I may suggest to the owner to give me two identical Shuns to test, I could sharpen one of them at 3k-ish like you suggest and then see how they both look after a month or so........I'm glad I thought of that Steve :)

I haven't owned a lot of Shuns, only one. I'm afraid that what Mjwit is saying is true and that they are going to chip regardless of what I think, since this is his experience.


Re: Saving Shun

Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:11 pm

Great idea Peter :-). If you don't mind Santoku's that would give you a profile where you'd probably use more of the edge over time, unless you really rock chop a lot, in which case their 8" or 10" Chef's would be a good test style. Keep us posted.

I suppose if Shun keeps selling lots of knives, they won't have any incentive to change their processes and/or steel to address the issue. Only if they get hit where it hurts (sales) will they do something. One wonders if they'll take a market/sales hit large enough to really affect the long term viability of the brand and/or the parent company.

Re: Saving Shun

Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:26 pm

Peter the Shun VG-10 seems to really like the King 1200 stone. If you still have it give it a try.

Re: Saving Shun

Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:37 pm

Thanks a Pete, I just happen to have a brand new King 1200 too, appreciate that.

Good idea with the Santoku Steve, thank you.

Re: Saving Shun

Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:40 pm

Yes absolutely. I think Shun takes a way steep angle for the knives. My shun classics chipped cutting carrots. I think Shun should sharpen with a more convex edge. The problem is the factory edge is thinned so much that any torquing bends or chips the edges.

Re: Saving Shun

Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:09 pm

I've sharpened a lot of shun knives and it's not the factory sharpening that's the problem. A stainless steel that rusts, pits like crazy, won't hold a edge, and sharpens like butter is a key indicator that there is a sever problem with the heat treatment.

Re: Saving Shun

Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:17 pm

Jason B
I agree!
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