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Shun Premier Sharpening & Vs. MAC Pro?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi Guys,


I am new here. So basically I got a Shun premier (chefs Knife) as a birthday present and I must admit its my first real knife and have no idea how to maintain it.


That being said I know I need to practice before sharpening or honing, but thought I best ask:


What would be the best honing stick and sharpening pad to buy? How often should you 'hone??"?. The site sais sharpen once per year. But honing? This is a whole new kettle of fish for me.


On another note, I was told by my partner who bought it the shop also highly recommended the MAC pro and said I could exchange it before using it if I liked.


So on a very quick note, without going into all the other knifes ( as I am sure there is better), is general consensus MAC pro of Shun premier?


Thanks so much!

post #2 of 13
I am by no means a knife expert but I do own a 240mm Mac Pro and have used the shun premiere. I think you will find most people on this site aren't big fans of shun for a variety of reasons. That being said the shun is by no means a "bad" knife. They tend to be on the expensive side but since it was a gift that is of no concern. The three main points I can think of that would differentiate the mac from the shun are as follows
1. Handle- the Mac has a western style (yo) handle that I find very comfortable. I haven't used the premiere enough to comment on the handle but I remember it being comfortable. I would go to the store and try them both to see how you like them
2. Profile- this is a major difference and I personally am not a fan of the shun profile. I find way too much belly and it's not conducive to the way I typically cut. However some people really like it. It's more about your style and what works for you. The Mac is much more suitable in my opinion to the push and glide cut (no idea if this is the technical term) that I use while the shun lends itself more to the rock chop. You can do both styles with both knifes but each does its own better.
3. Alloy- I don't know for sure about the shun but if its the same steel as the classic line it tends to be a little bit chip prone. I own a santoku classic line and had a few problems early on. After getting a proper board and using the knife appropriately I didn't experience these problems again. It seemed to maintain its edge well and was able to get sharper than anything I was used to. The Mac Pro alloy is excellent in my opinion. The edge lasts a long time, it sharpens really well and appears very durable. Although I now know how to use it. If you are planning to send them away to sharpen then their response to sharpening on stones isn't important but as a new sharpener I would say I've had more success with the Mac than the shun
Bottom line is they are both likely to be better than any knife you have had in the past and both will be sharper than anything you are used to. I would go to the store and try out both knives. Hopefully they will let you try some cutting. Don't worry so much about what is "better", more what is better for you
Hope this helps
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the prompt reply.

I also have one more to add to the list- a masamato VG? Opinions? I hear it a a " guyto" but has a French chefs knife profile like the MAC?

I will likely send them away to begin with, but would love to learn to sharpen them eventually.

I'm actually loving I'll have such a good knife soon.

That being said in the mean time if I steel them on a honing rod, what would be a good rod for any of these three? And how often would you hone these jap blades?

Thanks again
post #4 of 13

Shun Premier uses the same san-mai (three layer laminate) construction, with the same core alloy (VG-10) as Shun Classic.  The only differences between the two lines are appearance and handles.  Classic handles are straight "D" shaped, and either right or left-handed; while Premier handles are ambidextrous with an "ergonomic" curve.


For what it's worth, Shun Classic handles aren't exactly "wa;" even though they look like it.  The Premier handles might as well be western.  Either way, most western users find Shun handles very comfortable and have no trouble adapting. 


The pattern welding on the Classic and "tsuchime" on the Premiere are non-functional, despite what Shun advertising would have you believe.


Shun knives are made to an extremely high level of fit and finish.  They are very well supported by the factory and by their dealer network. 


I hate the German profile they use for their chef's knives -- awkward, too much belly, tip too high, etc., but that doesn't mean you should. 


Shun VG-10 knives are very chip prone when new, and settle down to being more chip prone than most over time.  Steeling a Shun is always a little risky.


Masamoto VG and MAC Pro are both "single steel" knives (not laminated), and are made from "proprietary" alloys which are so similar they might as well be the same, and so much like VG-2, they might as well be VG-2.  VG-2 is an excellent alloy; and probably better for your purposes than Shun's VG-10 because of its better toughness.


The Masamoto's profile is very Sabatier like -- which is awesome if you like Sabatier (and I do); while the MAC's is typical French and very good, if not quite as sweet.  But, the Masamoto is more flexible than most European knives and many western users new to Japanese made knives might find that disconcerting.  The MAC is fairly stiff (and FWIW Shuns are stiff also). 


The Masamoto is better cosmetically than the MAC, and while the F&F isn't quite up to Shun's standard it's still pretty darn good.  The MAC's F&F is at the same level as Shun.  


MAC has excellent factory support, but Masamoto's is pretty much non-existent.  If you decide to buy a Masamoto make sure you buy from a retailer who won't forget you as soon as the credit card goes through. 


The MAC and Masamoto are equally good although they have different strengths and weaknesses.  Both are better than the Shun.  If I were buying a mid-price, mass-produced, stainless, western-handled knife for myself  I'd choose the Masamoto.  If buying for almost anyone else, I'd choose the MAC. I would not buy a Shun Premier under any circumstances. 


It's a very good sign that you asked about sharpening.  Sharpening and maintenance are just as if not more important than the knife choice itself.  After all, there are scads of good knives, but all knives get dull and any dull knife is a dull knife. 


The best honing rod for the money is the Idahone Fine ceramic.  I also like the DMT CS2 (ceramic); F. Dick Dickoron Packer's Steel; MAC Black (ceramic); and Victorinox "Polished" steel.  I don't know what a "sharpening pad" is.  If you mean "bench stone," we might want to explore other, easier to learn and use options. 


Your thoughts?


post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much again, such detailed and clear replies on this forum.

Will definitely exchange for MAC Pro, as it sounds like its the "safe" bet. I'm sure I would love any of the three being so new to high end knifes.

I must admit I do not know what you mean by " sabatier like" in regards to the masamoto?

I believe this is the MAC the are referring to? And I will likely get as a replacement

Also a 9.5 inch option, although the 8.5 seems standard?

Would also love to know what the MTH 80 with dimpling is like?

In regards to honing, why is ceramic best for the MAC? Would take your advice on any of the three and likely get the MAC one for my MAC knife? Again, how often do you believe this knife should be honed?

Finally yes that's what I mean and am open to any easier options that would be approporiate for this knife? Also would love to know how often actual sharpening would need to be done for a home level user with nightly cooking use, but by no means high volume?

post #6 of 13

Ceramic has a few advantages compared to steel -- the largest of which is that ceramic hones don't scratch.  That said, any very fine rod, as long as it's long enough (longer than the knife) will do.


The knife's profile is its shape, as viewed from the side.  A chef's knife has a an arc or straight line along the spine, which drops (or not) to the tip.  Tips come can be high, spear-point, dropped, or several other variants.  The blade has a curved section which goes up to the tip, called the belly.  It has a run which goes from the belly to the heel (back of the knife which is either curved (rocker) or flat (flat). 


There are several different "standard" profiles and a huge range of variations as well.  The two most common chef's knife/gyuto profiles are German and French.  German profiles have a lot of belly and rocker, while French profiles are more triangular and have longer straight runs.


The Masamoto and MAC Pro both have French profiles.  Masamoto chef's knives use a profile very similar to that developed and still used by Sabatier (which is a bunch of companies, not just one).  Many users -- particularly those use use a "glide" chopping action -- find it especially good.  The MAC profile is quite good, but not quite as sweet the Masamoto; at least not as I use a knife.   


The MAC Pro is an excellent all-round knife and a great choice for "first really good" chef's knife. 


I suggest getting the 9-1/2" knife.  The extra length makes the knife a great deal more productive, and the longer "flat spot" makes it more pleasant and efficient for all sorts of chopping duties.  An 8-1/2" knife is a little easier to control if you don't know how to hold a knife right -- but once you do, there aren't many drawbacks to the longer length.


The dimples supposedly make it so smooth wet items (like potatoes) don't stick to the side of the knife.  Unfortunately, MAC's version doesn't work very well.  While it isn't horrible, don't waste your time. 


Let's talk sharpening.  You never said what you meant by "sharpening pad." Don't be embarrassed... the more I know about what you thought and think about this stuff the better able I'll be to help you.



Edited by boar_d_laze - 7/29/13 at 7:16pm
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
I believe I was referring to a grit stone/ whet stone ( not sure if the same thing)? I am happy to research more into this, and know it will take time to learn, but am happy too learn to sharpen properly?

BTW After doing more research into profiles I now see what you mean by German vs French. Would I be correct in saying the Shun is similar to a Wurstoff Classic/ ikon interns o profile? Probable more conducive to " Rock chopping" rather than " glide/tap"? although I imagine you could still Rick chop with a French profile?

Thanks again
Edited by hellofellow - 7/29/13 at 5:57am
post #8 of 13

Let's start with a little bit about Shun itself.  Shun is a collaborative venture between the Japanese knife company "Kai" and the American company "Kershaw."  Shun are made in Japan but most of the design is done over here.  If I'm not mistaken, most of the early profiles, including Classic, Premier, and most of the others still sold, were designed by Ken Onion. 


The Ken Onion series itself shared the same blade profiles as those other lines, but added highly-stylized, "ergonomic" handles.  I don't believe the Ken Onion series is still in production.  Good thing, too; they were very uncomfortable. 


The point being that most Shun profiles are western designs, but not really conservative or classic, and with some stylization for looks.  The chef's knives are uber-German.  Not only they do have a lot of belly and rocker (to the extent those things are distinguishable) but they also have a high tip. 


Most Wusthofs have a lot of belly and rocker, but Ikons are actually more streamlined -- and sort of split the difference between German and French.  




Any knife can rock-chop.  You can rock chop a flat bladed cleaver, when you want.  And darn near every good cook rock-chops some stuff some of the time because it's the best action if you're cutting small pieces and don't need a lot of precision.  Doesn't matter how flat the edge is, how little belly, how little rocker -- any knife. 


However -- and this is a big "however" -- not every knife can push cut well.  Knives without a reasonably long flat run on the edge,  tend to leave an "accordion" instead of a complete cut unless they're rocked back. That's a real big deal when you're cutting planks and sticks (like batonet and julienne), because you have to lift the handle so high to clear the food it feels like you're pumping the knife.  


Besides the rock and the push, there's another classic action which doesn't really have a name (but I call it Guillotine and Glide).  


But even though any knife can be made to rock-chop, profiles kind of sneak up on you and will alter your action to suit the shape of the knife.  You'll find yourself rocking a German profile more often than not, and pushing an exaggeratedly flat Asian profile.  The French profile, which is very common on Japanese made gyuto, is the most versatile in that sense.


And look -- very important! -- no value judgment about which profile or action is better.  German, French and flat; rock, push and glide -- they all have plenty of excellent technicians as fans. 



post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

Sounds good to me.


I ended up swapping the Shun for MAC Professional Chefs Knife 9.5 inches and am very excited to receive and use it.

I Purchased the black ceramic MAC honing rod as well.


So Last couple of questions for now: How often should I steel/use the hone?


And back tot he sharpening note: Where do I start? What Grit/type of stone? How often?


Thanks so much Boar d laze- You really know your knifes and have been such a massive help to this newb!

post #10 of 13

always nice to see a former chef sharing his knowledge with home cooks!

it makes an interesting read too, for me, line cook although those knives mentioned are not available in netherlands.

I'd like to learn more about profiles....


hellofellow, you will get there with this help and I'd love to hear how you and your knife are getting on.

ceramic sharpening steels are da bomb (for me), you won't need as much sharpening (as opposed to honing) as you think you will need because the new steel will keep your knife edge sharp much longer.

regular use, few times week if you don't do a whole lotta of cutting, is plenty.

some do it out of habit every day. nothing wrong with that either but don't forget ceramic steels DO take away material ;)

post #11 of 13
MAC vendors in The Netherlands:
post #12 of 13

i have a Shun Premier Santoku 7'' and its really sharp!! but 

post #13 of 13
Originally Posted by gc84 View Post

i have a Shun Premier Santoku 7'' and its really sharp!! but I forgot to finish my sentence.

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