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Dec 29, 2007 07:26 PM

Speaking of weird knife phenomena...

I work part-time for a kitchen store...I had someone bring back FOUR Shun knives yesterday: 3 from the Classic line and one from the Elite line...

ALL four of them had the same problem....pieces of blade missing all along the edge. I guess like big chips from tip to heel?

In my first life I was a housewares buyer for two major retailers, in my second life I cooked professionally, now in my third life I'm doing this. I've seen a lot of knives and a lot of knife issues in these different jobs...but never anything like this.

I was actually speechless when they were shown to me. I asked if they'd been doing a lot of sharpening thinking maybe the edges had gotten really brittle and unstable and were crumbling from that"no, we never do anythign to them" Asked if they were using them on bone. Asked what kind of surface they were using(bamboo was the answer). Asked if they were going through the they were storing them.

I was given all the "right" answers of course...but clearly there was something going on with how these knives were being used to cause this...there's no way we sold four separate defective knives into one house(from two different lines no less)...and if there were production issues we'd be seeing it in our store and other locations...

What in the world causes this? I know it was something being done to them and would like to know for future reference....

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  1. odd....I've been a Wusthoff man for years and my aunt bought a Shun recently...I gave it a test run and am not convinced it is gods gift to Wusthoff feels SO MUCH MORE well built....could just be not so great quality control...

    1. LOL ... I have done this (it gets worse, it was at a friend's house, it was her brand new cleaver-style Shun knife). We were doing a "deconstructed" turkey for Thanksgiving per the instructions in the Julia Child / Jacques Pepin Cooking at Home (a wonderful book and recipe), Julia says to use a cleaver and a hammer to take the ends off the leg bones. Noted in book: next time use axe and hammer.

      1 Reply
      1. re: firecooked

        You do realize that the Shun cleaver is not a meat or bone cleaver, right? It's a vegetable cleaver.

      2. I might have had the same issue with my Shun knives. They have both turned almost serrated over the past couple of years with an even 'chipping' effect running along the blade. I sharpen them frequently using a spyderco sharpener and stored them in a wooden rack. I also happened to be living on a boat in the tropics for 2 years and so I had just chalked it up to another victim of extreme corrosion.

        However, a friend of mine who is fanatical about old knives and swords said that he thought it was due to the damascus-type steel and the way it wore naturally. He said that the layers of steel tended to wear or corrode at different rates and that you are left with an even (or mostly even) 'serrated' effect.

        I have not been able to find much information on this though and when I mentioned it to a local high-end knife shop where I thought about bringing the knives to be re-edged professionally, he said I had probably been chopping rocks with the knives or something, that he had never heard of such a thing happening. I haven't had them 'professionally' sharpened yet needless to say.

        I got over it basically and continue to use them daily, sharpening as usual on my own and they work great as always I think. Here's a link to what the edges look like: (the close-ups of the knife edges are at the bottom of the post).

        6 Replies
        1. re: TimeMachine

          Interesting TImeMachine....the knives that were returned to us had much bigger chips than yours! Like little holes had been punched all along the edge of the knife...maybe a few millimeters big. We live in the desert so not humidity. Bummer though that you're experience that kind of knicking and chipping. Have you contacted Shun at all about the problem?(of course might be hard if you're still out traveling!) One of the way too many knives we have in our house is a Shun and we've been pleased with it.

          I'm sure the ones I took back were abused somehow...even if Shun has quality issues we'd see more of these coming back with this problem and like I said in nearly 20 years of some sort of professional experience with knives and knife manufacturers this is the first time I've seen anythign that looked like this. Customers wouldn't own up to doing anything odd with them so I'm really at a loss...and curious. I should take some pictures of them before we send them back to Shun...I'll do that this week.

          Customers mentioned they had had Henckels for a long tiem so I guided them abck to those, I was afraid to let them walk out with more Shuns without identifying the problem...figured we'd just end up with another expensive return...

          1. re: ziggylu

            Hmm. I hadn't thought of contacting Shun (I'm back in the US now). My plan was only to 'fix' the edges by just having them professionally ground/resharpened but the local knife stop guy turned me off. This seems silly perhaps but I would not want to trade my 'old' knives in for new ones even if they were identical, if that makes sense. Sentimental I guess. Plus, they still hold a great edge and sharpen nicely--essentially they are as good as new, minus the cosmetic issue.. I suppose I could email Shun to see if they had ever seen or gotten any returns with similar issues to my knives and had any suggestions. I also fear that I'll be 'accused' (well, that's putting it strongly) of mistreating them when I'm more neurotic about taking care of them than most people I know. Well, discounting the whole tropical boat experience :)

            1. re: TimeMachine

              TimeMachine -- unfortunately I believe your friend in wrong, as much as he knows about knives! The Shun are constructed from layers, not folded steel, the middle layer being the core steel that does all of the cutting, thus there is not damascus pattern and no folds or differential spots within the metal to be softer or harder, etc., leading to chips.

              This happened to my Shun 8" chefs, I returned it and bought a gyuto and haven't looked back! I've heard rumors that because of the scale the Shun operates at, they are not tempering their steel correctly, thus the metal crystals are very large and more prone to chipping. I'm no metal expert, but it makes sense, given my limited knowledge and that I heard from a knife maker!

              1. re: mateo21

                I think you are right. Upon inspection, the damascus-looking part of the blade is only in the outer layer of the metal; the inner core (which is tapered into the cutting edge) does not have the striations.

                I still haven't sent them back though I've been told that Shun will resharpen for free (minus postage).

            2. re: ziggylu

              Ziggylu, we are in the same business.I have not seen any Shuns come back with those issues. This is the first I have ever heard of something like that. From what you say it sounds like those knives were abused. We do sharpen knives and I have seen some beat up knives be given new lives. Henckels are not the knives they used to be, I have seen one of them come back broken with most of the blade missing. We just sell Wustof, Shun, Kyocera, and Forshner any more. I have Henckels from years ago and those are great knives.

            3. re: TimeMachine

              If you can ever make it to this:
              you should be able to get definitive answer. Some of the most experienced metal smiths in the country travel to help with this fund raiser. It is a great opportunity for them (they get to see amazing once in a lifetime pieces come through) and for the owner (a chance to learn the history & how the piece was made). Ranges from goldsmiths, blade makers & blacksmiths.

            4. they probably cut stuff up that they shouldnt have and didnt mention it to you.

              all the knives probably went through whatever they tried to cut too, if it happened to all of em.

              These japanese blades are harder and thus chip easier.

              My japanese santoku will only be cutting veggies and some meats. I'll use my wusthof for the stuff with bones etc.

              1. Frank's right - it's not the damascus (which is a folded steel finish) but that these knives are bifurcated - they're made from 2 different steels, and the inner steel (with the edge) is very hard and very thin, and susceptible to chipping. The damascus is the way the cladding metal is finished - it is typically a softer metal. The idea is that a blade that is made strictly from the hard metal would break too easily - so you fold, forge and weld the outer, softer metal onto the inner harder metal to give it some ability to bend without breaking.

                Chipping can be from poor manufacture - but unless a bad batch slipped through the Shun factory, I doubt that this is the case. Bad tempering and over-heating can cause the metal to form a large grain structure which is very brittle. It may be worth contacting your Shun distributor to see if there has been a report of a bad batch.

                It's far more likely that this is from aggressive misuse. Cutting bones, cutting on hard surfaces (glass cutting boards or ceramic dishes) and dropping knives onto hard surfaces can all chip these knives. Washing in dish washers can harm good knives as well.

                I've always said that people who want to invest in good knives need to learn how to maintain them. You don't treat your Porsche like a Chevy, or your Rolex like a $15.95 Timex. If you're not willing to put in the time and effort, stay with the Solingen steel, (Wustoff, Henckels, Forschner/Victorinox) or the 440A steel on your Cutco.

                PS - bamboo is extremely hard stuff - that could be the problem.

                1 Reply
                1. re: applehome

                  It's common to see people use a twisting motion when cutting hard vegetables. This torquing of the blade can casue chips