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Help chosing a Starer knife set

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

ok, so heres the deal; I;m moving to my new place in a week and as a housewarming gift my grandparents got me a giftcard to william-sonoma...

Just lurking around differnet knife fourms this store is what i thought it was, they sell nice kitchenware, at very high markup prices, and you can 

probably get just as good if not better quality things elsewhere for cheaper. Now I am in the market for some new knifes. And the only two ones

that W-S carries that catch my eye are the Global and Shun. Now I'm not an expert cook by any means, but i know some of the basics. In terms 

of sharpening I have some minor expericne from working at a local butchers shop when i was in highschool, but it doesnt go much further from that.


Here are the two sets i was looking at, First is the global 



and here is the Shun



Now the only reason its between these two is becuase well I have a gift-card to the place, If it was something else then i would probably look elsewhere.

I'm assuming that both of these companies make good knifes, I'm guessing there is considerable markup and both seem to be the commerical "high-end" japenese knifes

I am getting these (as there is really nothing else at W-S I need/want) with the knowledge that I will eventually buy other knifes not from W-S, and i will buy them individualy


In terms of which set I think the paring knifes are basiclly the same, so the differnece comes down to the Utility and chefs/santoku. I am actually more comftorable

using a Santoku style knife, but from what I've read it seems like as i learn more and cook more i will come to perfer a chefs knife. Does anyone have any experince w/ these 2 knifes? In terms of the utility it says that the Shun is a serrated utility knife, even though in the picture it doesn't look serated, I will defantiley have use for a serrated knife, but i think it would be serrations simmilar to a bread knife.  


in general what would you guys suggest?


Also on a side note i like the look of the globals more (gotta look good for the babes), however does anyone have experince in usuing them? The grips look a lot differnt that many other knives,=

post #2 of 2

W-S doesn't have the world's best choice of knives.  Any chance you can go elsewhere?  Even Sur La Table is better.


Shuns -- especially Shun chef's knives -- have some serious issues compared to other Japanese made knives in the same price range.  They use a very exaggerated "German" profile with a very high tip that I (and a lot of other people) find unacceptably awkward.  Almost every other Japanese made chef's has a more agile "French" profile.  


Shuns are a little on the thick side especially around the heel, and tend to wedge -- at least compared to better designed Japanese knives. 


Shuns are made with a laminated construction called "san mai."  The outsides are patterned soft stainless, while the inner layer (which gets the edge) is made from a high performance alloy called VG-10. 


VG-10 was nearly everyone's favorite for awhile, but to tell the truth not many makers executed it particularly well and Shun was (and is) not one of them.  Shun edges are known for a tendency to chip. 


Thickness and chippiness aside, Shuns take a pretty good edge and hold it well. 


The Shun "damascus" pattern is decoration only, does not improve performance, and is very easily scratched.


Most people find Shun handles very comfortable.  Be aware that the "D" handles on the Classics are suitable for either right or left handed cooks but not both.  


A lot of people do have problems with Global handles.  If you have a tight (aka "strong") grip, you're quite likely to experience slipping when the going gets wet and increasing discomfort the longer you use the knife.  If you have a soft, pinch grip, chances are good you won't have any trouble -- unless you let the knife get dull.   If you allow the knife to lose its edge, you'll need more force, more force means a stronger grip, and... you get the picture.  Personally, I like Global handles -- but have never used one for an extended period. 


Globals have been around for a long time and still use the same steel alloy, Chromova 18, as when they started.  It's got so much chromium (prevents staining) you'd think it was a dive knife... and the chromium does limit how far Globals can take hardening.  While it's amazing how much performance they can get out of the alloy, Chromova 18 is really an idea whose time is passed.  There are much better knife steels now.


Globals edge taking is okay, but not great.  They are a little on the soft side and don't have great edge holding qualities.  You can deal with that by frequent steeling and sharpeing... but a need for frequent maintenance is not a good thing.  Globals are relatively thick and tend to wedge.


A lot of people set great store by "balance."  Globals' balance is dead neutral.  Oddly, some of the same people who say balance is important to them complain that Globals lack it.  Maybe they prefer back-heavy, or maybe they don't know what they're talking about.  The better your knife skills the less likely you are to care about balance (not a universal truth, though).  Further, nearly all 8" - 10" chef's balance points are within a few millimeters of the pinch point.  In other words, not only is the quality overrated, the knives in question are very similar anyway. 


Global chef's knives have an excellent and extremely agile French profile which really rewards good technique and sharpening skills.


Both brands have excellent "fit and finish."  Both brands have excellent warranties.  Globals have very good factory support, Shun's support is even better.  I believe Shun provides free lifetime sharpening, but you have to pay for shipping to the factory.


Now let's grab some context.  Compared to nearly all western manufactured knives made more than 10 years ago -- Shuns and Globals represent a revolutionary improvement.  But that's not the real comparison or the real competition.   Neither brand is on my list as possible purchases -- not for myself nor as gifts.  If you put a gun to my head, I'd choose Global.



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