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Got shun for christmas, questions

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
New to the site, I have read several posts and am wondering what I should do now.

My wife got me 2 shun classic knives for Christmas, a 10" chefs and a pairing and I am wondering if I should return these and look into other options. I currently have a set of JA Hankels professional S knives that I built over the past several years. I like the hankels but I did test out the shun and they feel a lot better in my hand and they are definitely sharper then the hankles ever were. Eventually I would like to replace all of the hankels with something else and I am leaning towards keeping the shuns and going that route or some other Japanese knife

I am simply a home cook and I probably don't have the best knife skills. I would like to take a class some time but have never set aside time to do it. I have a sharpening stone but don't know how to use it, I generally just take my knives to a local cutlery shop to get them sharpened.

I will be honest the look of the knife will be a factor in my decision, my wife and I were originally drawn to the shun brand due to there look. I am comfortable spending right around where the shun knives fall. I don't think I would want to spend any more per knife then what the shun cost. From browsing this forum it seems that shun is a decent knife but is a bit over priced for what you get.

So after all that I am just asking recommendations on what I should do, keep the shun or look at another Japanese brand. If It's another brand I'm open to suggestions keeping in mind aesthetics and price at or around the shuns are my criteria.

Thanks for any advise and sorry for any typos/bad grammar I'm typing this on my phone.
Edited by lenthan - 12/26/12 at 3:36pm
post #2 of 17

you don't say that there is anything wrong with the knives. Why would you return them? Use and enjoy them. 

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yeah I hit reply to soon and had to edit to add the rest...thanks
post #4 of 17

Even if they were "Amway Brand", I myself wouldn't be real fast to return a gift from my wife. Just because a lot of so-called experts here are not so crazy over Shun knives, I don't remember any of them saying they suck. 


Bob Marley-Don't Worry Be Happy

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.


"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

post #5 of 17
I'm in the same spot. Not as much that I didt like shun but the chef knife felt so awkward in my hand. Research led me here and found a lot of concern with this brand.

I'm not sure why but I've always gravitated to the santoku in my other set. Wondering if I just need to evolve my "taste" or just get what feels comfortable.

I was real close to purchasing a Murry Carter santoku before the gift. No I'm just confused.
post #6 of 17

The opinions of other people can be very valuable. Right up to that point where they convince you out of something that you want or like. Now as an example, "brand choice" is a point that I would put much more faith in opinions than "knife/blade type". What I mean by that is learning about a company's quality control and customer service is to me very important. While on the other hand, being told maybe which knife I would or should use for the most part is much less important. If you like using a santoku, don't let yourself be quickly talked out of it based on someone's opinion. A quality knife is a quality knife. Use what you like. If whatever you use makes you happy, the chances are that you will perform better than if you were unhappy. Also, as I'm sure every expert here will tell you, a $600 dull knife isn't any better performance-wise than a dull $50 knife. Ya' gotta know how to sharpen. Or at least have someone good to do it for you. I'm a pro-chef. I love using my santoku. I've got three(3) different ones. LOL @ me I guess. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.


"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

post #7 of 17

Stop reading threads here and start using the knives. When you need a new knife, you will know it. Don't go looking for problems that don't exist. Everyone uses different knives because they use the knife they are comfortable with. You have a couple of nice knives. Enjoy them. 

post #8 of 17
Originally Posted by IceMan View Post

Even if they were "Amway Brand", I myself wouldn't be real fast to return a gift from my wife. Just because a lot of so-called experts here are not so crazy over Shun knives, I don't remember any of them saying they suck. 


Bob Marley-Don't Worry Be Happy

You are a very wise man. LOL.


Read the Shun FAQ regarding reports of chipped blades,


I see lots of Shuns that have suffered and have chips.


You cannot beat and bang on a hard Japanese steel and not have it suffer worse than a German would under similar treatment. The softer German will likely bend and the harder thinner Japanese will likely chip.



post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info and insights. I'm leaning towards simply keeping the shun knives and slowly replacing the Hankels I have. I used the knives a little cooking Christmas diner and played around with them some more today. I definitely like the feel of the shun over the Hankels I have. I just wanted to make sure I was not missing something better as I have limited access to stores that carry high end knives past the chains like William Sonoma and sur Le table so I don't really know what else is out there other then from the interwebs.

Thanks again.
post #10 of 17

I guess I'm one of those "so called experts." 


Unfortunately, I can't really tell you if you SHOULD exchange the knives are not.  What I need in order to give you advice is some idea of how you plan to sharpen.  If you're going to let them get dull and keep them that way, it doesn't really matter what you have.  Any dull knife is a dull knife.  The practical distinctions between different knives become interesting only when the knives are sharp, and increasingly interesting when they're very sharp.  Very sharp should be as dull as your knives ever get. 


That sets up a sort of "chicken or the egg" paradox.  If you can manage to keep your knives at least very sharp (say as sharp as a good factory edge), THAT will change the way you experience prepping more than any particular brand of knife -- while it also illuminates and makes the differences between knives more important. 


Knife skills have almost the same effect.  The better you can use a knife, the better you'll appreciate the "right knife," and the more you'll value the distinctions.  You don't need great skills to know a good knife.  A good grip and some degree of comfort with "the claw," and "cut and retreat" techniques -- which only take a few weeks to become habits -- are enough to let you know whether you prefer a German or French profile.  Just by way of some context, nearly all Japanese chef's knifes are "French," but nearly all Shun chef's knives -- including your Classic -- are German.  The trend among good cutters -- but not universal by any means -- is to French and away from German, for the French style's greater agility and more comfortable angles for tip work.


In no way am I saying that aesthetics shouldn't count a great deal in your choice, just that aesthetics won't turn a dull knife into a good knife. 


A Shun Classic 10" runs around $190, which puts it in a very high end price range with lots of choices.  However, if you'll be exchanging one knife for another at whichever retailer sold your wife the Shuns, your choices are limited to their stock.


Shun Classics have a lot of issues including a tendency to chip which goes beyond what Shun says about chipping; a very awkward "German" style profile; and for and relatively low value compared to other knives in their price class.  Consequently, I almost never recommend them.  They are also unfriendly to lefties, and have the muted feeling typical of san-mai knives, but those things aren't problems for most people.  All of that doesn't mean Shun aren't good knives for a lot of people -- including a great many who know knives, and how to sharpen and handle them.  The question is whether they'll be good for you. 


Henckels Pro S can be made very sharp, certainly as sharp as an OOTB Shun without undue difficulty.  If you didn't already have the Shuns (and presumably a ticking clock regarding how long you have to make a decision returning them), I'd suggest learning to sharpen and maintain the Henckels before moving on to the next step.  It's not like they aren't decent knives in their own right. 


Before making a decision let's talk about sharpening and maintenance in general, and also try and figure out whether you want a French or German profile on your chef's knife.  



Edited by boar_d_laze - 12/27/12 at 12:40pm
post #11 of 17

LOL.    There, lenthan, is your perfect example of considerable wisdom. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.


"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

I have been doing do more research and am still deciding what I want to do.  I am probably going to buy some stones and practicing on the Henkel Pro S knives I have while I decide what knifes I want to end up with.  I am probably going to return the Shun knives for now while I make up my mind on what knives to go with,  I may end up buying them back but want to keep my options open.  Oh and for those worried about my safety from returning a gift from the wife I should be fine, she all ready plans to return the fancy diaper bag I got here for a different one and she appreciates quality as much as I do....but thanks for your concern ha ha.


Honestly I did not know there were as many options as there are when it comes to knives, pretty much my only resource was Su Le Table or Williams Sonnoma.  On that note does anyone know of a good knife store in close proximity to Columbus, Ohio?    I tend to like to hold an item before I buy it but that may be unavoidable unless I go with something from the big chains.   I have been looking at CNtG and Japanese chefs knife and see lots that I like the look of right around the price of the Shun knives.


So with that I was wondering what a good starter set of stones will be for they Hankels then whatever they are replaced with.  I have a local knife shop(unfortunately they only mostly sell big brand kitchen knives)  that sells stones but I don't know how good the brands they sell are.  They sell Lansky and DMT stones.  From the research I did on stones the DMT seem decent but I am open to ordering something if they are not good.  Basically what grits should I get and what other accesories should I look at.  Also I don't think I want a system like the edge pro.  It seems like a set of stones would be faster once I get the hang of them.


Now as far as the knives go I do like the look of the Damascus knives, I realize this is mostly an aesthetic option and may move away from the look if I decide I can get something a lot better for the same price of less.  I think for now I will probably go with a Gyuto probably something in the 230-270mm range and then slowly replace the rest of my set down the road.


Here are a few of the options I like the look of


Hanttori HD series (these seem to be popular)


Ryusen Tsuchime Demacus Series


Skiki Tsuchime Damasus Twinkle


Shiki Damascus Premium


Shiki Damascus Limited


Sauin Damascus




I guess if anyone sees something in this list I should avoid all together that would help and if I am looking in the 150-300 range for a knife would anyone have another suggestion for a 230-270mm Gyuto I should look at.  It can be Damascus or not.


Thanks to everyone who gave me advice and to any advice to come.

post #13 of 17

i agree with chef writer and just keep using the knife for the moment and go and find out what's wrong with it by using it. then when you really know what you want from a knife, you will know what to buy.


try to go out and look at other knives by going out to stores that have knives for sale and ask if you can hold them and have a feel for the knife. that will help add to the experience and give you an idea how it will perform somewhat.


i know there aren't a lot of knife stores out there and there aren't any knives that you're looking for would be available to try out but it would at least have a feel for the knives that you might want.

post #14 of 17

It seems clear that you already KNOW you want new knives. 


Unfortunately, there are very few really good knife stores in the US.  My understanding is that most "better knives" sold by brick and mortar stores are sold through kitchen or department stores.  There are very few people working in kitchen stores who have much knife knowledge; and even fewer department store employees. 


Equally as unfortunate, unless you have fairly well developed skills and going to a really good knife store and playing around with whatever a knife store (or knife department) has in stock is -- with certain exceptions -- far more likely to be misleading than helpful.  Qualities like "heft," "balance" and eye-appeal are exaggerated there, while other qualities like long term comfort, profile, agility, lightness, edge taking and edge holding are given short shrift. 


The Hattori HD are good for san-mai VG10.  The Ryusens -- also san-mai VG10 -- are good but not quite as good the Hattoris.  For what it's worth, Hattori and Ryusen have a working relationship in which Ryusen provides mass production capacity for Hattori, and the HDs are made in their joint factory, but finished by Hattori.  I think, but am not sure, that the Ryusen Tsuchime are made in the same factory.  I don't know the Shikis from experience, either my own or that of anyone's whom I trust. 


Generally pattern welded san-mai VG10 knives tend not to be as good performers within a given price range (including your price range) as single steel knives made from other alloys.  That's true for the Hattoris, true for the Ryusens, and probably true for the Shikis as well.  For instance, you can get all the practical benefits of that type of knife for less than a hundred bucks with a Tojiro DP.  But that doesn't mean that giving up a little bang-for-the-buck practicality and paying more for an aesthetic you really like is a bad decision.  It depends on your priorities.  Your priorities.  Yours. 


I don't want to get into a position where I'm describing the differences between a dozen or so knives with a couple of sentences for each one.  That won't do much for you at your current state of "I don't know what I want." What would be helpful would be if you could decide:

  • Whether you want a knife which can be easily maintained (but not sharpened) with a steel, or are willing to go to the stones to true;
  • Whether you want a Japanese or Western style handle;
  • Whether you want a knife which is very stiff or can accept some flexibility; and
  • How often you're willing to switch away from your high performance gyuto to a something sturdier when faced with a "heavy-duty" task. 


Perhaps more at issue is:

  • How much time, trouble and money you're willing to invest in sharpening;
  • Whether you're willing to learn basic knife skills. 


An adequate board is less important, but still important.


Bottom line:  Knives are tools.  If money is at all in issue, don't waste it on tools which won't work for you. 


Stay away from DMT and Lansky stones. 


After everything is said and done an EP Apex is neither less convenient nor more convenient than bench stones.  The advantages of an EP compared to bench stones is that it's easy to learn and will give you good results without too much practice.  Its disadvantage are that it's not quite as versatile in terms of unusual knives, won't do big-deal profiling or repair as quickly, and that it's not cheap.  If all you want to do is sharpen ordinary knives, and you can afford one, the EP is probably the better choice. 



post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you BDL for so much information.


To answer your questions:


-Yes I "want" new knives now do I need them that's another thing.  I had been looking at upgrades to what I have for a while now but never spent much time researching mostly do to the fact that I figured the hankels I have are probably plenty of knife for me.  We had purchased a couple shun classic knives as gifts for people and they liked them.  Again as a novice I did not know much about the Shuns other then they look nice and cost more then my current knives.  My wife decided to go ahead and buy the Shun again assuming they were a big upgrade over what we have as well as the fact that we had looked at them before.  I have playing around with the Chefs knife and compared to the Hankel 8" chef I have now and the shun feels a lot better in my hand, more balanced and definitely sharper.  Some of the difference in sharpness can be attributed to the state of the Hankel, I do use a steel but it has not been sharpened for several months.  I can say that even after I have had the hankel chefs knife sharpened professionally I don't think it has ever been as sharp as the Shun is now.  I'm sure some of this is due to the difference in the angle and thickness of the blade between the 2 knives.  I did use the stone I have to sharpen the hankel and was able to give it a better edge but no where near the shun.  I am not even sure who made the stone I have as it was a gift, it only has one side and I don't know what grit it is.  Needless to say I'm sure one stone of unknown coarseness in not sufficient to get a good edge.  I would guess if I got a decent set of stones I could get a decent edge on the hankel.


-On to my thought process now.  I am going to return the 2 Shun knives and buy one knife probably a Gyuto something in the 230-270mm range and something to sharpen my current collection(Hankel Pro S 8" chefs, 8" slicer, 4" pairing, and 7" Santoku).  I feel that I would prefer stones but I am still deciding that.  I figure once I learn to really take care of my current knives I will be able to better compare them to the new knife I plan to buy and then I can decide if I need to keep upgrading/add to the my set or if I will be happy with my current set as is.


As far as what I want in a knife or think I want


-I want to be able to get a "very sharp" edge, I am willing to learn to use a stone to ensure I get the most out of it.

-I have the Hankel knifes if I need something to do more heavy duty work.

-I have never used a Japanese handle so I can't say that I would prefer that, the Shun is rounded and does feel good in my hand but I don't think it gives me the true feel of a Japanese handle.  I am leaning towards sticking with a Western style handle out of familiarity and it will look better next to my current collection.

-I would say a stiff knife is what I would want but again don't have any experience using something with flex.

-Price wise I would be looking between 150 and 300 for the Gyuto and probably somewhere in the same range for the stones/sharpening system.  If I had to spend a bit more to ensure I will not be looking to replace something in a few years I am happy to spend it.

-Aesthetics will play a part in my decision but maybe not as much as I had originally thought.  Like you said I can get a knife made with better steel in the price range I am looking if I go away from the Damascus look.  If I move away from the Damascus look what steel should I look for?

-I have a couple decent wood boards

-I have some basic knife skills but I am by no means an expert and I would like to and am willing to improve.


As I can't determine how I will like a knife until I use it I am just trying to do my best to ensure I will be happy with whatever purchase I make.  I know the final decision will be mine but appreciate input from people who have used the products I am looking at and have far more knowledge as to what make one knife better then another.


Thanks again for everyones input.

Edited by lenthan - 12/29/12 at 7:43pm
post #16 of 17

only thing i can say, i wouldn't listen to the people at the knife store if you know that they're talking nonsense. =D

post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 

I plan to order a couple stones to start, I am thinking about a Chosera 1k and a SS 5k.  From my reading it seems like a good combo for me.

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