The 7 Strongest Ways to Sharpen Your Shun Knives

Shun knives are one of the best knives on the market because they deliver everything you need in a kitchen knife. They’re razor-sharp, making them perfect for cutting vegetables and slicing sushi. They’re also well-built, that’s why they can handle different situations in the kitchen.

However, with the demands of everyday cooking, knife blades are prone to chipping and losing their sharpness. And if you own a knife as superior as Shun, it’s crucial that you take appropriate steps to polish it up.

Keep reading to know more about Shun knives and the best ways to properly take care of them.

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Everything You Need to Know About Sharpening Your Shun Knives


About Shun Knives

Shun, pronounced as “shoon”, is the main concept in Japanese cuisine and culture. In Japan, shun is a term that refers to the exact moment when local produce, which is seasonal, has reached the “peak of its perfection”. This means that the food is in its most flavorful, freshest, and most ideal phase.

So, what then are Shun knives?

Shun knives take their name from this Japanese concept of eating the freshest meals at the perfect time. They’re Japanese knives that are admired globally because of their durability. Their sturdiness is made possible by high-carbon stainless steel construction.

Shun knives belong to the Shun cutlery series, which is recognized for its exceptional beauty and performance. This cutlery was developed and designed by the KAI Group, an enterprise established in Seki City, Japan, where the Shun knives are also produced.

Throughout the 20th century, the enterprise manufactured different types of cutlery under various brands. In 2002, the Shun brand was launched in the West. It’s distributed in the US by Kai USA.

Today, Shun knives are sold across more than 30 countries. And until now, Shun continues its tradition of handcrafting each knife. In fact, it takes at least 100 steps for Shun’s skilled artisans to finish one piece of the knife.

Shun Cutlery

Shun offers a wide range of knives in their collection. Each knife has its own design and value. But all of them still possess the classic Japanese style, molded through traditional Japanese techniques.

Each category consists of around five to 30 different knife types. This is equivalent to a total number of around 90 Shun knives!

Here are some basic facts about the Shun knife collection:

Shun Classic

  • Handle material: Ebony PakkaWood handle
  • Blade construction: VG-MAX cutting core with 68 layers of Damascus cladding

Shun Kanso

  • Handle material: Tagayasan (or wenge)
  • Blade construction: AUS10A steel

Shun Premier Gray

  • Handle material: Grey PakkaWood handle
  • Blade construction: VG-MAX cutting core with 68 layers of Damascus cladding

Shun Dual Core

  • Handle material: Ebony Pakkawood handle
  • Blade construction: 71 micro-layers of high carbon, high chromium VG10 and VG2 stainless steel

Shun Sora

  • Handle material: Textured polypropylene/thermoplastic elastomer polymer blend
  • Blade construction: VG10 steel on the cutting edge and Japanese 420J stainless steel upper

Shun Classic Blonde

  • Handle material: Blonde PakkaWood handle
  • Blade construction: VG-MAX cutting core with 68 layers of Damascus cladding

Shun Premier

  • Handle material: Walnut PakkaWood handle
  • Blade construction: VG-MAX cutting core with 68 layers of Damascus cladding

As you may notice, most of Shun knives’ handles are built of PakkaWood, a material that combines resin and hardwood. It offers the natural beauty, durability, and strength of wood, which complements the stainless steel blade. It also provides you with an excellent grip, so you can easily maneuver the knife.

Shun Knife and Its Stainless Steel Blade

In order for you to properly take care of your Shun knives, you must first understand the steels found in the core of each knife.

The blades of Shun knives are made of premium Japanese steel. These steels are surrounded by layers of Damascus steel, which has a wave pattern. This wavy design doesn’t only give Shun knives their stylish appearance, but it also lessens drags and prevents food from sticking to the knife. This fabrication also makes Shun knives rust-resistant.

The steels used in Shun knives include:

  • VG10 steel: The elements and metals in this steel contribute to the Shun knives’ firmness as well as their wear and corrosion resistance.
  • Dual-core VG10/VG2: These metals are piled then forged together to produce smooth stainless steel.
  • Proprietary VG-MAX: The VG-MAX steel is an improved version of VG10 steel. It consists of tungsten, carbon, molybdenum, chromium, and vanadium. These elements make Shun knives solid and long-lasting.
  • AUS10A: This high-carbon steel is the most low-priced among the other Japanese stainless steel.

Pro Tip: Sharpen the blades to a 16-degree angle to make your Shun knives remarkably pointed.

Shun Knife and Its Edge

Shun knives feature the following edges:

  • Double-bevel: With double-bevel, both sides of the knife are sharpened. Most Shun knives have this type of edge. It’s the most common type since it’s the simplest to sharpen.
  • Single-bevel: Unlike double-bevel, a single-bevel edge features a blade that’s sharpened only on one side. It’s sharper than double-bevel, that’s why it’s perfect for slicing raw meat and fish. However, it’s more prone to chipping.
  • San Mai: This type is somehow similar to double-bevel, but its center is made of hard metal steel surrounded by milder steel.

RELATED: 5 Tips For Slicing And Chopping Food Like A Pro

Sharpening Shun Knives

Now that we’ve talked about blades and edges, how do you sharpen them for efficient cutting?

Here are some techniques you need to learn to make your Shun knife as sharp as it can be.

1. Use a Honing Tool

“Honing” isn’t exactly the same as “sharpening”, but it’s still an important part of Shun knife maintenance.

Honing refers to the procedure of adjusting the edge of your knife blade to keep its sharpness. Doing this regularly will also extend the lifespan of the blade. And when we say “regularly”, we mean doing it weekly to ensure that the edge delivers consistent performance.

Meanwhile, sharpening isn’t done as regularly as honing. You do the sharpening occasionally, depending on your knife usage.

With sharpening, you take the metal off the blade, unlike honing wherein you only realign the blade. So basically, “honing” refers to maintaining the “sharpening” you’ve already done.

But of course, to hone your Shun knife, you need to have honing steel.

How To:

  1. Hold the honing steel in a vertical and downward position. Make sure that the tip of your honing steel is stabilized on a cutting board or countertop.
  2. Hold your Shun knife against the honing steel, then drag the knife downwards, as if you’re slicing the honing rod.
  3. Do this for five to 10 minutes, while keeping a 16-degree angle. If your Shun knife has a double-beveled blade, don’t forget to hone both sides.
  4. Afterward, wash your knife with warm water.

2. Use a Whetstone

This is another method you can do to sharpen your Shun knife. In fact, it’s one of the oldest techniques used in knife sharpening.

A whetstone, sometimes called sharpening stone, comes in different grits:

  • 300-grit: can fix small chips and repair minor imperfections
  • 1,000- to 1,500-grit: can sharpen dull knife blades that aren’t extremely cracked or chipped
  • 4,000- to 6,000-grit: can do knife blade polishing with a mirror-like finish

Some sharpening stones also have two sides, wherein one side is used to grind your knife and the other is for smoothening the blade.

How To:

  1. Place your sharpening stone in water for around 10 minutes.
  2. After soaking your whetstone, put it on a damp towel. Place them on a stable counter or table. Make sure that the surface is slip-free.
  3. Get your Shun knife. If it’s double-beveled, hold it at a 16-degree angle. For single-beveled, angle it at 45 degrees.
  4. Then, move your knife up and down against the slightly wet stone. Put light pressure as you do this movement, and keep going until the blade is sharp.
  5. Lastly, clean your knife before using it.

3. Use a Manual Sharpener

If you’re looking for a knife sharpening tool that’s relatively cheap, you may opt for a manual sharpener. It’s also much easier to use than a whetstone.

However, take note that you may need to practice your knife sharpening skills before you can use this tool. You may find it a bit difficult to get the angle right on your first try. But with some practice, you can still achieve razor-like sharpness for your Shun knives.

How To:

  1. Put the manual sharpener on a table or countertop for your safety as well as to balance the sharpening tool.
  2. Insert your knife into the slot, with heel first, then pull it towards you.
  3. Repeat this around three to four times.

4. Use an Electric Sharpener

If you don’t wish to sharpen your Shun knives manually, you may use an electric sharpener.

The good thing about electric knife sharpeners is that everything’s automatic. It features a grindstone that’s already adjusted to a 16-degree angle.

It may be a bit pricey compared with other tools, but it sharpens faster and is easier to operate. You don’t need to be a pro in sharpening knives before you can use them.

However, since there are different types of Shun knives, keep in mind to read the instructions carefully before using one.

5. Use a Leather Strop

Another method to keep your Shun knife at its peak performance is to use a leather strop. This tool has a surface that can smoothen the edge of your Shun knife.

Generally, leather strops come with polishing cream. This polishing compound adds up to the strop’s effectiveness to make your knife look like it just got out of the factory.

How To:

  1. Rub the polishing cream onto the leather strop, then let it dry.
  2. Stroke your knife on the strop to sharpen the blade. Ensure that you’re doing it at the right angle.
  3. Repeat this for about a dozen times to leave the knife with a polished look.

6. Use a Ceramic Mug

If you urgently need to sharpen those blades, but there’s no available knife sharpener around, you may use a ceramic mug. This may sound absurd, but you may actually sharpen a chef’s knife using this household object that’s readily available.

How To:

  1. Flip the ceramic mug upside down. Put it on a flat surface.
  2. Look for the part of the mug that’s raw. This is usually the rough part at the bottom that keeps the mug from slipping.
  3. Run your knife across this part until you achieve your desired sharpness, just like how you use a whetstone. While doing this, you’ll notice some discoloration on your mug, which means that you’re effectively sharpening the knife.

7. Go to the Professionals

If you find sharpening knives too inconvenient, Kai USA offers their sharpening services for free! You may either drop off or mail in your Shun knives, and they’ll sharpen them until they look brand new.

Shun knives are adored by home cooks and professional chefs alike. They’ve earned incredible reputation and popularity in the cutlery world because of their handcrafted design and high quality.

But keep in mind that you should also know how to sharpen your Shun knives properly, as it plays a critical role in preserving the life of the edge. Besides, who likes blunt knives after all? They’re not only troublesome, but they’re also ineffective when it comes to meal preparation.

So, follow these tips and practices to revive your dull knives, and enjoy their sharpness for a lifetime.

Want to learn more tips on how you can maximize your kitchen? Check out our website for more clever ideas!

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