Okay all you speculators. The following is from Shun:
"Over the last Three and a half years, we have added much to the Shun line. Not just in new product, but also in technology. I have looked over the articles I have written, and thought it would be a good idea to consolidate and improve these for you. So what I would like to accomplish, is to talk about each of the lines and what makes them special. The logical place to start would be Shun Classic. To start with, the reason we call it Shun Classic is because it utilizes classic European shapes, and it has a double bevel edge. As you all know most traditional Japanese cutlery uses a single bevel edge like our Shun Pro lines. The first question we usually get about Shun Classic is, "how do we get that beautiful pattern across the blade"? The process is absolutely amazing. To best understand it I think it is important to first describe the German process so that you can compare it with ours.
You have all heard the term "hot dropped forged". In the old days, this denoted the highest quality of German knife making. Steel was heated to almost molten hot, and then a 3000 pound hammer with a mold attached would slam into it, forming the bolster and would also realign the molecular structure of the steel. As demand grew and technology improved, the Germans decided that this process was no longer efficient or profitable.
These days, the steel they use starts out as a one by one by one-foot ingot. They then pound it down until it is about 3/16ths of an inch thick. As you might imagine at this point, the molecular structure of the steel is pretty much aligned. This means that the only thing you are accomplishing by slamming a 3000 pound hammer into it is forming the bolster. The problem is that over time, the mold starts to warp, which means that you have to shut down the line and retool. This is very costly and is the main reason that the Germans don't do it anymore.
Henkels and Wusthof now use what is called compression forging. This is where they take a piece of roll stock called a blank, and using electricity, heat up the middle till it is molten hot and then using what looks like a vice, compress the blank creating a bulge in the molten steel. A mold for the bolster is then compressed very slowly on to the bulge forming the bolster. The advantage is that it still is a one-piece knife using forged steel.
So now let's talk about what we do. Remember, I said that the Germans pound out their roll stock to about 3/16ths of an inch. We pound out ours to 3/1000ths. I hope you can imagine how perfect our molecular structure is at this point. We then take 32 layers of this steel, and put 16 on each side of a layer of VG-10 making a kind of VG-10 sandwich. Then using heat and pressure we clad these 33 layers together making our roll stock.
The next step is to place the sheet of roll stock into a press that kind of looks like two beds of thick blunt nails facing each other. The roll stock is then compressed, causing a series of dents or impressions across both sides of the sheet. This creates a kind of ripple effect in the sheet, like throwing several pebbles in a still pond. If you look at our Chinese cleaver, you can actually see where the dents were made. These would be the circular pattern across the length of the cleaver. This process was inspired by a famous knife making style known in Japan as Kasumi style. It is the same process used to make Samurai swords. The Japanese learned 700 years ago that there is no such thing as the perfect steel. Hard cutting steels with more carbon in them were highly reactive to corrosion and rust, and could also be brittle. The Japanese would surround these steels with softer less reactive steels to protect and support them. This process would create a pattern in the steel that many people today confuse as Damascus.
To dispel this confusion, let me tell you what Damascus really is. There are two types of Damascus, Wootz Damascus and Pattern Damascus. Woots Damascus was actually first. It was invented in the city of Damascus where they discovered a special mine that had iron oar with traces of tungsten and vanadium in it. Of course at the time, they didn't know this particular fact, they did notice however, that the steel from this mine was very different and special. These trace elements were drastically changing the steel making it extremely hard and flexible. Imagine if you will, putting a pinch of salt into a glass of soda pop. The salt acts as a catalyst causing the CO2 molecules to split faster from the H2O molecules which makes the pop go flat quicker. In the case of Wootz, the tungsten and vanadium had the effect of aligning the carbides in the steel. I will explain what these are later. The steel had after forging, a "watered" look to the blade, which means there was a pattern. This pattern was caused by bands of extremely high carbon steel (being dark in color) contrasting against considerably lower carbon steel (which is lighter in color). The bands added strength, flexibility and toughness to the steel, which is a must for a great sword. These special qualities made the swords extremely tough and resilient in combat situations while maintaining a razor sharp edge. The Persians used these superior steel blades against the Christians in the crusades, and we all know how that ended, twice. In time the mine that had the special iron oar, ran out, and the art of Wootz Damascus was thought to be lost until it was rediscovered in the mid 90's by Al Pendray. Mr. Pendray is a Ferrier by trade, and through trial and error discovered that by adding the trace elements of tungsten into his metal mix, he could reproduce the Woots Damascus steel.
After Woots Damascus steel was no longer available, the art of Pattern Damascus was invented in Europe. Instead of cladding the high carbon steel in the protective steel like the Japanese, the Euopeans would fold different metals together. The patterns would appear, because some of the metals used in the folding process like the carbon steel were highly reactive while the other metals like nickel weren't and would stay bright. The pattern is brought out by rubbing the blade with acid causing the reactive steels to darken. The end results were what is now considered modern Damascus. Althoug the blades made by this process are very beautiful, they don't have the strength or ability to really hold an edge. This is why now the Damascus patterns are clad onto harder cutting steels. Much like the Japanese Kasumi style, today Damascus is folded into large sheets, using a variety of different reactive and non-reactive metals. These sheets are then clad onto various cutting steels. So as you can see, although there are similarities between Pattern Damascus and Shun, they are really quite different.
The shun knife shapes are then cut out of the finished roll stock, and the hand grinding process begins. You are all aware that a knife is thick in the back and tapers to its edge. As we grind the knives into this "V" shape, which is called flat grinding, the pattern emerges. We then make it visible by using a bead blaster. Imagine an air brush but instead of using paint, it uses teeny tiny glass beads. The bead blasting is what also creates the stick resistant properties of the knife. It does this by creating thousands of little indentions on the blade that in turn create thousands of little air pockets which of course reduces the percentage of the surface area of the blade touching the food which results in reduced sticking.
Two other factors to keep in mind when talking about Shun Classic, are the edge and the handle. First you need to remember that the edge on a Shun knife is ground at 16 degrees per side verses the Germans which are at 22 degrees per side. The Germans are certainly capable of grinding at a thinner angle, but they choose not to based on the type of steel they use. Grinding at such a thin angle greatly reduces the strength of the edge and its ability to stay sharp. So why and how do we do it? The answer is simple, better steel. The Shun Classic line uses VG-10, which is a new type of stainless steel that has a higher density. This allows the steel to be tempered to a higher Rockwell, in this case 61, and still have the flexibility and strength to take and keep a perfect edge. It is also important to note that our edge is also highly polished along its bevel. This greatly reduces drag as you are cutting making it seem like the blade is going through like magic."
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story
One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End