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May 5, 2009 10:20 AM

steeling Shun knife with Wusthof steel

I added a Shun knife to my Wusthof set but I was wondering if I really need to get the Shun steel.

I heard you want a smooth steel to avoid chipping the VG10 edge? Using the shun steel would be no brainer with the angle guide built in.. but I am not sure if I need to spend $40 which almost cost as much as my little shun knife.

Maybe a couple of swipes on the bottom of a ceramic bowl will also do well?

Maybe not steel it at all and send it back for sharpening once a year?

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  1. You did not mention which Shun you had, Classic or Pro. The Pros are Japanese style knives, some with single bevels. I think I would send those to Shun for sharpening and not use a steel of any kind on them. If you have a Classic with double bevels, I suggest you email Shun for advice. I have and they get back to you in about a day or two. As you may know, Shun recommends that you send your knives in for sharpening, have a pro do it or puchase their electric sharpner. They also warn that if you have a pro do it, make sure they are familar with Japanese knives which have a 16 degree bevel. So I think the ceramic bowl is out. Also, if you have the pro series, the their electric sharpner will not work with single bevel knives and those should be sent to Shun for sharpening. I live in the Los Angeles Area and I have some of my Japanese knives, deba and a single bevel yanigiba sharpen by Anzen Hardware in Little Tokyo. Its $10.00 a knife. I just got my deba back. Its sharp as a razor. It took a little over a week to get it back. They also sell Japanese knives and Japanese whetstones.

    1. if it's a two-edge classic, i think any good ceramic rod would work. I hone mine on a ceramic rod all the time, as well as my mac and they seem to do fine.

      19 Replies
      1. re: chuckl

        Yes I have the classic series.

        where can I get a ceramic rod without spending too much?

        I came across this product do you think it will work OK for my Shuns?

        1. re: CACook

          my best advice is to run this by the Shun people. They are very particular on how their knives should be sharpen.

          1. re: bgazindad

            honing is not sharpening, it just straightens the edge

            1. re: chuckl

              True. But the theory goes that when you have a knife with much harder steel, instead of straightening the edge you wind up breaking off all those microscopic teeth -- not good. Personally I use something like this on the Shuns I own, and it works well:


              1. re: mateo21

                me too, that's why i suggested a good ceramic rod.

                1. re: chuckl

                  Hey guys can I use a ceramic rod on my other knifes too?

                  Also what is Shun USA website/email?

                  1. re: mateo21

                    microteeth? not on my edges unless you are looking with an electron microscope

                    Also a ceramic rod is sharpening and usually it's putting on a microbevel. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But it and all other steels except pure smooth metal or glass rods are taking off metal and are in effect sharpening. By definition honing is sharpening.

                    If the knife was sharpened with a 1000 grit whetstone/waterstone then the ceramic rod will provide a finer finish since they usually have a 1200 grit surface. If the knife was finished at anything above 1200 grit then the ceramic rod will put a rougher finish on the edge. Still it is a very effective way to touch up your edges if you are not sharpening them on stones.

                    A Shun is just another Japanese knife made of VG-10 stainless, 61 rockwell hardness and on average a 12 degree bevel. You will not chip the edge on a 1200 grit ceramic rod unless you do something wrong. You have a good chance of chipping the edge on a grooved metal steel.

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      Hi I have E-mail Shun USA about my original question

                      I have heard about.. the ceramic rod being more abrasive..

                      I don't really know now, why don't I just go to the hardware store and get a 3/8" solid steel rod?

                      does anyone have the Shun steel would you say it is easy to chip the knife with it (arg... they wouldn't do that to their own products.. or would they?)

                      1. re: CACook

                        The ceramic rod will be less abrasive if the knife was finished at 1000 grit from the factory. Most knives are not finished beyond that. Even Japanese makers don't always finish at higher grits. There is an assumtion that the buyer will customize the edge to their needs and desires. Rarely is a knife as sharp as it can be out of the box. And if technique is good a knife finished on a 1000 grit stone will shave hair without a problem. In fact if it doesn't the knife was not sharpened well.

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          I have a question about that. My Global (GF33) was not that sharp out of the box (not sharp enough to shave hair). I don't know what I expected.
                          Recently I was preparing a chili, and used the global (for about the 5-7th time) to dice the steak and chop the onions.

                          The global did a fair job, requiring a tad more pressure to cut through some parts of the meat. however, after I'd cleaned the knife and put it away, I needed some more onion, so I used a cheap Tesco (supermarket) knife. Despite the Tesco knife having far more use (being shared between flatmates) and having less care taken with it, it went through the onions much more easily.

                          An obvious difference is the thickness, the tesco knife being stamped rather than forged like the global. But it does seem like the global wasn't incredibly sharp out of the box. If I just got a ceramic steel, do you reckon it would sort the sharpness out enough?

                          1. re: Soop

                            I don't think you will get it hair shaving sharp but it might improve your cuts. Your global may have several imperfections from use. Microchips and a collapsed edge would be the most common. Both can be fixed with sharpening on stones. The ceramic rod will help create a new microbevel but will not take out microchips. It will help the collapsed edge.

                            1. re: scubadoo97

                              Should I be able to see a collapsed edge? When I got it, even though it wasn't shaving sharp, it would glide through an orange. Now I might have to push to get through the skin of a chile.

                              1. re: Soop

                                sounds to me like your edge is folded. honing on a ceramic knife should straighten it. if not, it might be time to have it professionally sharpened. you should only have to have it sharpened once or twice a year

                                1. re: Soop

                                  What do you have to lose. To find the angle of the edge when I hone on leather I lay the knife flat and slowly raise the spine while sliding the knife forward/edge leading until it bites. You could do this with a cutting board with reasonable results. Note the angle from the spine to the board. Now try to hold that angle or one ever so slightly greater while you steel lightly. Check for sharpness after a couple of passes on each side.

                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                    keep in mind the angle of a shun or global will be at around 16 degrees compared to about 22 degrees for a wusthof or henckels

                                    1. re: chuckl

                                      I was thinking that they were around 12* but could be wrong. That's why I suggested the OP find the angle. That's the techniuqe when stropping on leather. Find the angle then strop. You can reasonably do the same with a wood block or cutting board. Find the angle where the edge just bites.

                                      1. re: chuckl

                                        I think this one is 22.5 Could be wrong, but it's thicker because it's forged. That's a point actually, I was just gonna get those guides, but it's possible they won't work.

              2. this should answer most, if not all, of your questions


                1. I spoke with the Shun rep at Williams-Sonoma when I bought my Shun Kaji. I have a Henckels twin cuisine set and spoke with him about using the Henckels steel to sharpen it. His exact words were, "The Henckels steel will work just fine with the Shun"

                  1. This is an extract from the KAI site...

                    ---- 8< ------------- 8< ------

                    What material is the honing steel made of?

                    With softer metals, knowing the hardness of your honing steel in comparison to your blades is important, as one needs to be able to remove the burr on the blade as well as realigning the edge. With the VG-10 steel used in Shun knives, the incredible hardness of the steel, coupled with the pliability of the edge, means it is not necessary to deburr. Honing is simply to straighten the edge. Because of this, it is not necessary to use an ultra-high Rockwell steel on your blade.

                    ---- 8< ------------- 8< ------

                    Here is their website FAQ...


                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Paulustrious

                      What are they trying to say? This doesn't even make sense.

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        My interpretation is that a steel satisfies two purposes to solve two problems. The edge can be bent over. In this case a fairly soft material can be used to straighten it. However the edge can also be ragged in which case the bits sticking out need to be filed away. For this you need a material which is comparably as hard as the knife.

                        The shun's thin blade edge is fairly pliable and easy to bend over. However it is so hard that is is difficult to tear or abrade it. So a hard steel is not required. I did material science at university and know there are wide ranges in toughness, elasticity, plasticity and fracture resistance of various steels. They seem to liken the knife to a very hard spring steel , but one in which the material can readily have plastic deformation. Hence the edge can be bent over, but it can also be straightened.

                        Then again, that's just my interpretation.

                        1. re: Paulustrious

                          Paul I appreciate your interpretation and respect your material science background. My son just graduated with a material engineering degree but in practice the thin VG-10 stainless is not soft enough to fold easily like a softer German knife and I can guarantee you that it can chip when chopping a bunch of herbs when a European rock chop method. Not big chips mind you but you will pick up s a few microchips after a few chopping sessions.

                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            I'd beg to differ here. The edge on my Global seems to have folded, and that's comparable to VG-10.

                            1. re: Soop

                              Yes it folds. I did say that it doesn't fold easily like a softer German knife but it folds. Now how you bring it back is the question. A smooth steel, leather hone or high grit, 8k or higher, would be the best method to bring it back in line IMO.

                              For micro chips it needs to go back on the stones. Some where around 1k grit to start or lower if chips are bigger then work your way back up to the grand finish. Then you will be able to float that edge through a tomato with no resistance

                              Here is a vid of the shapening technique I use. I use different stones but finish on a leather hone like in the vid.

                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                I see, I beg your pardon.

                                I'm angling for a dickoron for my birthday; £60 isn't cheap, but I think it could be worth it if I live long enough :D