When I posted my observations about Shun knives after living with them for a month in the first part of “The Shun Experiment”, cwrightthruya graciously offered me the opportunity to borrow three other Shuns to expand on my findings, and I accepted.
The three knives were a Shun Classic 8” VG10 chef’s with kullens, a Shun Elite 4½” SG2 chef’s and a Shun Classic 3½” VG10 sheepsfoot paring. They were deliberately delivered dull to afford me the opportunity to sharpen them. And they were dull, unable to pass my standard test of cleanly slicing a folded paper towel rolled into a half-inch cylinder.
Contrary to expectations, sharpening was no more difficult that any other stainless, though not as easy as putting an edge on shirogami. I used a Shapton Pro 320 to create a fresh bevel on each knife, then refined the edge with a Shapton Pro 1k, and polished it with a 5k. Because it would not have much contact with a board, I took the paring knife a step farther with an 8k Shapton Pro. Deburring was accomplished on a hard felt block.
I tried to use the knives as much as possible in combination with a few of my “regular” knives. What follows is my impressions of each of them. Forgive the use of stock photos, as I did not think to take pictures until after the knives were on their way back to cwrightthruya.
(The first part if The Shun Experiment is here: http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/sh...hun-Experiment)
Shun Classic 8” VG10 chef’s
I made every attempt to use the 8” chef’s for my prep work, and early on confirmed that the profile, which is designed for rock chopping, was not the most friendly to my usual style. I stuck with it, but was thankful when the experiment was over and I could return to my accustomed gyuto profile.
I found the height of the tip made it difficult to use effectively, forcing me to hold my wrist uncomfortably.
The kullens did not seem to make any difference in food release, and should be considered cosmetic only.
Edge retention was good; the edge only needed stropping during the month I used it. I did not see any evidence of chipping in that time.
I think that someone transitioning from a Wüsthof to a Shun would find it much more accomodating than I did.
Shun Elite 4½” SG2 chef’s
The 4½“ Elite chef’s has a profile very much like a deba, and, in fact, is marketed as a deba-style chef’s knife, but it can in no way be considered a deba. I found the knife to be an amusing toy to use for quartering limes, but of little value in actual prep work. My wife, on the other hand, thought it was the perfect size for general use (shudder).
Shun Classic 3½” VG10 sheepsfoot paring
I found the 3½” sheepsfoot paring to be the most useful knife of the three, and was sorry to see it go back to cwrightthruya. Those of you familiar with the standard Shun Classic paring know the handle is one of the more comfortable available, and I found the straight edge of the sheepsfoot to be very easy to use. If you are dissatisfied with your current parer, you might want to try a sheepsfoot.
Contrary to some reports, I did not find these Shuns particularly difficult to sharpen, though other flavors of stainless are certainly easier. It may be that since Shuns are a "gateway" Japanese knife, that many Shun owners are also beginning sharpeners and this creates the impression that they are hard to sharpen.
The bottom line is that the dislike of the Shun Classic chef’s profile is probably justified, at least for those of us used to a Japanese or French (Sabatier) profile.