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Dec 7, 2009 09:23 PM

8" Chef's knife - $30 Henckel or $130 Shun?

I'm looking to replace my stamped Farberware 8" chef's knife. Although it seems sharp & is reasonably comfortable & balanced, I get the impression (from hanging around here, no doubt) that just about anything's going to be a step up.

Today I found a J.A. Henckel 4-star clearanced for $30. A week ago I would've bought it without thinking twice. Unfortunately, I held a Shun in my hand yesterday. The balance & comfort were unlike any other knife I've tried.

Obviously, either knife's going to be big improvement over the cheap Chinese stamped chef's I've been using for the past 20 yrs.

Should I grab the 4-star & be happy that I saved $100? Or should I hold out for the Shun?


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  1. i've used Henckels and Wusthofs for years, but ever since i snagged a Shun Santoku for half price at Sur La Table on Black Friday, i can't imagine ever wanting to hold another knife! i'm in love with this thing.

    FYI, it's still on sale...

    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      goodhealthgourmet, this is sorta the feeling I had in the store, holding the Shun. The design of the handle & the overall weight & balance made me wonder if western-style blades & handles are more for brute-force-style cutting. (Y'know, the heavy blade is good for withstanding blows against armour, while the little "hook" at the at the end of the grip is good for keeping your hand from sliding off when you're covered in blood/grease. Neither feature is as useful for delicate maneuvering around a cutting board.) (Not that "mowing thru garlic & herbs" has much poetry to it!)

      What makes it preferrable, for you, over the blades you've used for years?

    2. Since you like the Shun better than the Henckel, you are the only person who can decide if it is worth the $100.00 more.

      3 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        Well, I don't actually know how I feel about the Henckel. I just know that the design of the 4-star (blade/handle shape) is similar to the cheap knife I've got, & so I'm guessing the use will feel similar (but better, right?). The Shun felt different. Just holding it, it "felt agile" compared to the Farberware knife.

        1. re: Eiron

          I love my Shun. It prompted me to give my Wusthoff away. Then again, I don't own a Hattori - yet.

          1. re: Eiron

            I wouldn't put Faberware knife in the same category as Henckel 4-Star. Henckel knives, including the 4-star, are some of the best German made. Most professional chefs used them for years before Japanese knives became popular. I've used Henckel for years in restaurant kitchens but I prefer their Classic series. Choosing a knife is a personal preference. For me, I use a German made 10 inch chef knife for all my heavy work such as chopping, dicing, etc. I have a couple of Japanese knives for fine slicing.


          You can thank me/hate me later.
          The knives here are better than pretty much anything else you can find, and many of them are reasonably priced. If you are shopping for a great knife that you will want to last forever, go here. The Shun's are decent, but can't hold a candle to the equally priced Hattori's.

          31 Replies
          1. re: Jemon

            now why'd you have to go and do that? i had *almost* forgotten that i was lusting after those Hattori knives. they're just so beautiful...

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              See? I knew someone would hate me for that!

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Same steel as a Shun (at least the HD series).

                  1. re: Paulustrious


                    But I am told that Hattori knows how to temper the steel better even they are both VG-10 cutting edge. What do you think? Or is this just anti-Shun campaign?

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I have no idea, CK. I would think that a larger company such as Shun would get the best edge they could for their price point.

                      If I were the OP (and had the budget) I would get both. Then in a few months he would know what direction to go.

                      Jemon`s Hittori recommendation(s) are on this page...


                      Pretty looking knives. Same(ish) price as the Shuns. And if both of you believe they are better then I am in no position to gainsay that.

                      1. re: Paulustrious


                        I don't know. I would also think a large company like Shun would also have the best technology and best QC available to it. On the other hand, Hattori is selling on the "personal touch" factor. I know Hattori HD use the same VG-10 steel as Shun Classic and they both are harden to the same HRC. So, if Hattori HD edge is not tougher than a Shun edge, then there is no reason to get it since it is slightly more expensive, has no warranty and no knife sharpening service. I do not really know. I do not own a Hattori. Just a rumor I heard.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I'm speaking from experience. A friend of mine owns the Shun, it was a wedding gift. He *hates* it compared to my Hattori gyuto, and I would agree. I know what the numbers say, but the Shun (his at least) won't hold an edge very well. It dulls like a really cheap Walmart knife. I really wanted one before he got his, too...I'm no Shun hater. Then i found out about the site I posted, got a gyuto, and also a Suien Chinese cleaver, which is actually my personal favorite knife.

                          1. re: Jemon


                            I also heard that Hattori knives are better than Shun despite they are made from the same steel grade and harden to the same level. Since Rockwell hardness only reveals about the indentation resistance, I can guess there is a difference in the the carbides in these two brands and possible more. In addition, the ability for a knife to hold an edge depends on the function of a knife. So you can have two knives (Shun and Hattori) with the same hardness and they do not have the same edge nolding ability, which depends on toughness and wear resistance and others.

                            I have a Shun bread knife and it has been pretty good, but of course it is a bread knife and it is not meant to be abused like a Chef's knife. I really don't think a Shun knife will get dull like a cheap Walmart knife. In my experience, there is a huge gap between a Shun Classic knife and a 420 Stainless steel Walmart knife.

                            1. re: Jemon

                              Sorry but I'm going to go ahead and chalk your friend's experience as user error.

                              He's probably treating a japanese steel knife like a german one. One has to understand that the two styles are different and should be treated as so, even if the Shun is sort of a hybrid.

                              The Shuns are not bad knives, they're just probably a bit more expensive than you need.

                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Chemicalkinetics: "I would also think a large company like Shun would also have the best technology and best QC available to it."

                              Actually, Shun is not a company. Shun is a line of products of Kai Corporation, which makes over 10,000 different products, knives constituting but a small fraction of that number. Kai Corporation is not very "large" as multinational companies go -- its registered capital is just about US$5 million, a sum that would constitute a very low annual salary for an NBA basketball player; and sales (gross revenue) of the entire Kai Corporation were about US$467 million last year.

                            3. re: Paulustrious

                              "... get both" - as in both the Shun AND the Hattori??

                              Hey, let's remember that I've been using a stamped Chinese knife for 20 yrs. :-) As much as I'd like to have both, it ain't gonna happen in this decade!

                              1. re: Eiron

                                I was referring to your original post - the Shun and Henckel.

                                I forgot the advice my old sales boss gave me: "Always make sure the other person understands what you think you said."

                                1. re: Paulustrious

                                  Duh! (Sorry, sometimes I wonder if I even show up to these events!) OK, thanks. That sounds like a do-able plan, actually. I could get the 4-star (if it's still there tonight), then put a santoku on my wish list.

                                2. re: Eiron


                                  If you have not make up your mind to get a Shun knife, then I would suggest you to get the $30 Henckels Chef's knife. Here is why.

                                  Get the Henckels Four Star because it is inexpensive and it is more than functional. It is considered a very good knife by many. If you fall in love with it, then that's that.

                                  If you think you can do better than the Henckels, then you can start testing a Santuko

                                  a) and if you like a Santuko more, then you can get the Shun Santuko for $80, and you will spend only $110 total.

                                  b) if you dislike a Santuko and want a Shun French Chef's, then you can wait for its price to drop. According to the price history of the Shun 8" Chef's knife, it was $100 in the beginning of Nov. When it hits $100 again, you can grab it and you will spend $130 for getting two knives.

                                  Price history (click the green icon):

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    It won't come down to $100 any time soon. The lowest you should find is $120 with free shipping...
                                    Abe's of Maine was not a legit seller of the knives - they are no longer selling Shun knives because of rule-breaking...

                                    1. re: Lolamonkey

                                      Hi lolamonkey,

                                      Yes, I know about Abe's, but I think the author of the original post can still wait for a price drop and if not, he can shop at eBay, like this Shun Santuko for $90:


                                      He can always bid and that can be much cheaper.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        FWIW, I found my 8" Shun classic chefs knife at TJMaxx for under $100.
                                        I've only seen it there once and snapped it up.
                                        It's hit or miss, but they do occasionally get them.
                                        I've found the paring knife, utility, U2, bread, 7" santoku and 8" chefs there by stopping in and looking around on shipment days.
                                        They do go fast when they ever do come in.

                                        I should also add, I picked up a couple of the Henckles 4star, 5star and ProS there and like them as well.

                                        I like the other posters suggestion of grabbing the $30 4star and getting the other when you can find a good deal on it.

                                        1. re: grnidkjun


                                          Thanks. I have only seen Shun knives in TJ Maxx once and maybe twice. Unfortunately, the one I saw was the U2 knife, which I do not need.

                                          By the way, can you comment on your Shun Chefs knife and Shun Santoku knife experience for the author of this original post? Maybe compare them to your Henckels knives, so he can get a better idea.

                                          On a personal note: You said you go to TJ Maxx around shipment days. How do you know when that will be?

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            I asked when I went to my local TJM when their shipment days were. :)
                                            T/T here.

                                            I looked at and they have the Shun 7" Santoku for $79.99 right now.
                                            I have this one.. picked up for a similar price at TJM.

                                            OK.. I have the following chef knives:
                                            8" Shun Classic
                                            10" Shun Classic
                                            8" Henckels Pro S (same blade as 4 star - different handle
                                            )10" Henckels 4 Star

                                            Where I like them all, I tend to reach for the Shuns when doing slicing of things like Onions, Peppers, Sausage, Garlic, trimming meat.
                                            Things where I feel I need a little more maneuverability.

                                            I reach for the Henckels when tackling items with thicker skins.
                                            Melons or more of a "chopping" task.

                                            They just feel heavier and the thickness of the blade seems to create more of a wedge.

                                            Could the Shuns do the same thing.. I'm sure.. it's just a personal feeling.. no scientific explanation here.

                                            1. re: grnidkjun


                                              Thanks. Hopefully, my TJM and HomeGoods have regular shipment days because I would only want to ask them once and not to ask them every month. I am shy about this sort of things.

                                              Yes, that Shun 7" Santoku for $80 is a very good deal and with a 20% off coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond, it will be more like $68 (including 7% sale tax). As I suggested to on a different post, the Shun 7" Santoku is a good deal now and the Wusthof 5" Ikon Santoku at $60 is also not bad.


                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      I got a granton edge Shun Classic 8" Chef's for $80 at the beginning of July from Amazon, and then found a non-granton at Williams-Sonoma for 50+shipping at the same time.

                                      1. re: Coconuts


                                        Great catches. Do you like your knives thus far?

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          I only bought the granton edge, but I do absolutely love it! I have several other good chef's knives, so even as great of a deal as the other one was, I left it for someone who needed it more than I did.

                      2. re: Jemon

                        Jemon, after reading thru the Hattori info on the JCK site, I'm still left wondering one thing: Why do you consider these better than the Shun?

                        And why Hattori over any of the other twelve manufacturers listed on the JCK site?

                        Same question for the others wanting a Hattori....

                        1. re: Eiron

                          I guess there are a few reasons for this, and most of them are pretty subjective.

                          Some of us knife nuts are put off by the german shape of the shuns - lots of belly (curve). This allows for easier rock chopping, but at the same time hinders slicing, effectively shortens the knife, and also makes you raise the knife to an awkward angle to do any delicate work with the tip. And with sharp, thin Japanese edges, rock chopping is considered bad for the edge in comparison to push or pull cutting.

                          Hattoris are typically thinner than a shun, leading to decreased resistance and increased performance. Hattoris also usually have asymmetrical edges, which thins the knife behind the edge and further improves performance (albeit very slightly).

                          Some people hate on shun's handles. I sorta like em. To each his own. Same goes with the faux damascus cladding.

                          I've heard multiple reports that hattori tempers his vg-10 better than shun does theirs. This is certainly possible - there can be a great deal of variation in the temper of a steel. The most common complaint is that shuns don't hold an edge as long as a hattori. The thing is, shuns are sold to people who are less prone to babying their knives, and their shape almost demands rock-chopping. So it only makes sense that they wouldn't hold an edge as long - they are more subject to abuse. Personally, I have sharpened a hattori and many shuns. I did not notice a significant difference in the steels. But I did not use a Hattori long enough to speak to its edge holding.

                          Also - don't discount the "hattoris are cooler" factor. I know, totally subjective. But they are. I think that's as much of a factor as anything else.

                          I'm actually a little surprised to see them getting so much love on this board. There are a lot of good Japanese knife-makers. I personally would have picked a knife from several of those other makers on JCK before I picked a Hattori.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            I really (REALLY) liked the feel of the Shun handles. I'm always looking to improve the ergonomics in anything I design, & those handles immediately "made sense" to me. I tend to slice cut rather than rock chop, so it sounds like this style of knife (Asian, in general) is the way I want to go. And yes, I do like the Damascus look.

                            I understand the cool factor. But there needs to be more behind it if I'm going to pay 2x for a 170mm santoku. So what other makers would you suggest considering?


                            1. re: Eiron

                              We can talk you into any knife line based on metallurgy and performance, but one of the biggest factors is handfeel - you have to choose a knife that feels like an extension of your hand. If the Shun FELT better, then go with that. But I recommend that you go to a store and put the Henckels (or Hattori if you can find someone with one) in your hand too...make it a fair comparison...

                              1. re: Lolamonkey

                                This is a good suggestion. I plan on being near that kitchen shop again this weekend, so I'll make it a point to stop in & re-hold all of the knives. They're one of the two most comprehensive kitchen shops in this area but don't carry Hattori (only Shun & Miyabi). I'll call the other place & ask what they stock.

                            2. re: cowboyardee

                              So, which of those other makers would you pick out of curiosity?

                              1. re: chuff

                                I already have a Hiromoto (Aogami Super) and I can attest that it is fantastic. And, I think, a better value than a hattori (HD or JCK forum). I would love to get one of their clad white steel knifes, listed under specials.

                                While we're looking under specials, they have a Sanestu ZDP-189 santoku listed for under $170! Holy Crap! I'm not a huge santoku guy, but its freakin ZDP-189. Sanestu is well-reputed, btw.

                                Still under specials, I'd love to try the JCK original Gekku line. They look like a really great value.

                                Moving on, I would also have picked a Glestain - reputed to have grantons that actually work. Or a ryusen (blazen) - fantastic edge holding. Or even a massamoto - great knives, slightly less inflated prices.

                                Keep in mind, I've got nothing against hattoris, despite how it sounds. They're great knives, and if you buy one, you're almost certain to be happy with it. The fact that it would be a bit down my wishlist (unless we're talking a KD model) just speaks to how many great Japanese knifemakers we have to choose from right now.

                        2. Hi Eiron,

                          They are both great knife. You can often find great deal for Henckels in stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Obviously, $100 is a lot and ultimately it is your decision. I only want to point out a few things (just to confuse you really) which makes Shun a potential good choice.

                          Let admits these first, the Shun knives are lighter and heck a lot more attractive.

                          Shun Classic cutting edges are made from VG-10 stainless steel and are much harder than most Henckels. Shun knives are hardened to ~HRC 61 compared to typical Henckels ~56-57HRC. This means the Shun edge doesn't roll as easy and holds its edge better. In fact, you probably do not want to use a typical steel to hone a Shun knife. Because they are made from harder steels, Shun knives take on a more acute angle (sharper) at 15 degree instead of the 20 degree on Henckels, so Shun knives are sharper.

                          Finally, Shun backs their knives with a lifetime free knife sharpening service. You need to pay for the shipping fee to send the knives over to Shun, but they will sharpen them for free and send them back to you for free. This is something to also consider.


                          There are also arguments to be made for Henckels, but I think I will just confuse you more, so I will let others to confuse you on that. Jemon is correct. There are many other great knives on that website. They are not as well known, but they are highly respected.

                          In addition to what Goodhealthgourment said, I also want to point out that both normal and indented Shun Santoku are on sale. That of course only matters if you like Santoku over French's chef.


                          If you have one of those 20% off thing from Bed Bath and Beyond.... then....

                          43 Replies
                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Thanks! The $100 doesn't mean as much as it used to. I mean, yes, it's a lot of money, but if I'm going to use this knife for the next 10 to 20 yrs, then I don't look at the extra money as just a purchase cost. I think I'm finally tired of using cheap crap simply because it's cheap. Henckel's got a great reputation, so if it's an equal knife (which, I'm gathering, it's not) then why spend the extra?

                            I've never used a santoku, so I'm a little hesitant to buy it as my first knife. How different is it to use compared to the standard chef's knife?

                            I don't know Hattori, so I don't know the differences between the products and/or manufacturing philosophies. (Heck, I didn't even know Shun two days ago!) I understand the idea of "person-made" vs "factory-made," but what about the ergonomic differences?

                            1. re: Eiron


                              They (Shun vs Henckels) are just different. Many like the sharper, lighter and nimber Shun knives. Others swear by the heavier German Henckels knives.

                              As for a Santoku, you just have to try it to see if you like it. It would be best if you can borrow one from your friends. Ovbiously, a Santoku has a much flatter edge profile, so you won't use as much rocking motion as opposed to slide push-cut motion. Another difference is that Santokus typically are shorter and lighter than a French chef's, so it lacks the meat cleaver ability. It makes that up by being a slightly better slicer -- I think. I have used both styles before, but now I am a Chinese chef's knife user.

                              You bring up a good point about ergonomic. One difference between Japanese style knives and German style knives is that Japanese knives tend to focus on being lighter, and sharper. It is more ergonomic in the sense that it feels more like an extension of your hand. The German knives have much thicker blades. To compensate the blade weight, high quality German knives balance the weight by putting extra steel either around the bolster area or the knife handle or both. As such, the entire knife is heavier. Many believe the extra weight aid the cutting when you push the knife downward. Norman Weinstein (if I remember correct) does not think much of Japanese knives and sort of believe they are hyped up.


                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Cut with a sharp J steel and I just can't possibly think you'd believe they are not superior. The softer german steel may be more appropriate for a lot of people (easier to use, less care, less worry about chipping etc) but after cutting with j steel you begin to notice that german knives don't cut. They wedge apart the food almost ... ;)

                                At first I also was set on a Hattori HD but after reading a lot on knifeforums I tended away. It seems the natural progression (that I followed) was German Steel, Shun, Hattori HD, then the many other knife brands. The more unique and off the beaten path the better. But I need a Nakiri and am broke from Christmas and soon a 5d Mark II, and oh yeah I have an offer on a house right now. So I'm looking at some of these Kanetsune VG10 knives that have the hammered and damascus look (I'm a sucker for form and function).


                                Really good prices on those suckers. Also check out some Tanakas on ebay (from metalmasterjp and 330mate_com and 6733tak).

                                1. re: deeznuts


                                  Wow, nice prices. Considering you are selling your multiple houses, I don't think a knife can put a dent on the money you get.


                                  Look at particular this Santoku from deeznuts's link: VG-10 harden to HRC60-61, laminated wood handle, very beautiful Damascus pattern (if you are into it). All for $65. A regular Four Star Henckels would cost much more than this. This, of course, only matters if you like to have a Santoku. Go and borrow a Santoku from your friends now and test drive one.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    Thanks Chemicalkinetics, you've been very patient! Please keep the friendly advice coming. I took your (& Paulustrious') advice & picked up the 8" Henckel Four Star for $30. I'm going to put both a santoku & a utility knife on my wish list. I just need to decide which brand offers the nicest combination of looks, performance & value. I'm hoping I'll get one as Christmas gift; that'll save me having to immediately buy a 2nd knife right now.

                                    Gads, all of this kitchen stuff is going to be another expensive hobby! I thought $750-worth of espresso eqpt was a lot of money to make a 1 oz drink, & then I bought my first All-Clad copper core pan (I'm hoping to pick up my 2nd piece this weekend). Now, with all of these different knives, I can see that this will approach my hand-made bicycle for cost!

                                    "Go and borrow a Santoku from your friends now and test drive one." - ROFLMAO - My friends have plain ol' knives. Know what I mean? Like, "Hey! I found a complete set of knives at BoxStor for $69! They're the best knives ever!" If they paid $100 for a knife (& they wouldn't), they'd want it to cut the food by itself. The scary thing is, I can see myself spending $300 each for several different shapes/sizes. Give me another month & I'll think $800/knife is "normal"!

                                    1. re: Eiron

                                      Greg (Eiron),

                                      Thanks. I read the exchange above and noticed that you push cut more often than rock chopping. This means a flatter edge profile knives, like Santoku or Usuba, may suit you more.

                                      :D I don't mean you should borrow an expensive $200-300 Santoku. There are those $10-15 Santoku around, so maybe your friends have one., like these ones:


                                      Obviously, the edge will not be great for these cheap Santoku, but you are just trying to see if the flatter edge profile makes sense to you. If you cannot get hold of one, then watch some Santoku videos on youtube and see if the cutting motion makes sense to you. It is one thing to spend $100+ to get a knife you use. It is another thing to spend $100+ and get a knife which will be sitting in the draw. Oh yes, you are not just limited to Santoku. A lot of people find a Japanese Gyuto fits them better.

                                      I know some people are slightly against Shun because there are other Japanese knives at slightly lower price. That being said, Shun has better warranty and offer free knife sharpening service.

                                      1. re: Eiron

                                        this is a good thread you guys have been running on this but that's not a real usuba right? I've been drooling over this Shun ..


                                        1. re: jccampb

                                          Hi Jccampb,

                                          You are right. Those were two links to two Santoku, not a Usuba. That is a beautiful Usuba. In fact, I was looking that one too. Of course, some will argue that real Japanese authentic Usuba should be carbon steel with soft wrought iron, like these:


                                          But frankly, I am a stainless steel person, so that's that.

                                          Deeznuts showed me this nice website with some beautiful Japanese knives at low prices. Look at these ones for examples:



                                          1. re: jccampb

                                            No chopping garlic with that knife. A true usuba is single beveled and with the high HRC of 62-64 can be very fragile. Meant for very thin slicing, like for kaiseki cuisine.

                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                              excellent points. There should be a distinction made between japanese steel japanese knives and western knives with japanese steel. The single-bevel knives are probably unlike anything most people have used. Yanagiba, usuba, even deba (there are two debas, the regular one is used for fish, single bevel, the western deba is like a tough chefs knive and is double bevel).

                                              For western style japenese knives, there is gyuto, sujihiki (slicer), petty, western deba (yo-deba - if you see "yo" it's western, "wa" is japanese yeah I know counter-intuitive). Nakiri's and santoku's are double bevel japanese style knives. Santokus are reserved for small women (just kidding - sorta).

                                              Here is a very informative, very detailed and quite possibly very confusing post about japanese knives. If you want to know about a knife, hit Control+F and search for the term.


                                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          You misread my post a little, I'm not selling multiple houses I'm bidding on a house for myself. Despite what media reports have been saying the real estate market in San Diego is so crazy I've been looking for a year and have been outbidded almost all year. So yeah, no extra money, that's why those knives look like such a great value!

                                          But they are quite nice looking knives for the price

                                          1. re: deeznuts


                                            Ghee, I am an idiot. You are buying a house. I thought you meant you are getting multiple offer for a house you are selling. Then I thought you are going to get tons of cash and a knife cannot dent the money you get from selling a house.

                                            By the way, I bought my brother a Santoku from that website you provided. Thank you.

                                        3. re: deeznuts

                                          "At first I also was set on a Hattori HD but after reading a lot on knifeforums I tended away. It seems the natural progression (that I followed) was German Steel, Shun, Hattori HD, then the many other knife brands. The more unique and off the beaten path the better."

                                          OK, so where did you wander off to after Hattori? :-) I'm open to unique & off the beaten path. Oh, & what was the general feeling about Hattori HD on knifeforums?

                                          1. re: Eiron

                                            Well right now I've got a couple Kanetsune's (I got a screaming deal on a 210mm - 8" chefs that looks is VG10 looks like Shun with the damascus, sells for over $100 I got it for $60). A shun chinese cleaver to whet my Chinese cleaver appetite. It was also a screaming deal so I wanted to try it out. The blade is a bit too curved for my taste so I'll probably flatten it out one day. A shun parer (a knifeforum favorite actually). I plan on grabbing that nakiri linked above, it's only $65 and looks awesome.

                                            Also, a sujihiki/slicer is on my list. Probably from ebay from these sellers who get some nice knives for really cheap. Like this:


                                            The Hattori HD were good knives, maybe a bit overpriced but solid, dependable knives that are extremely popular with new buyers because they look so damn good. But they used to be somewhat prone to chipping more than other knives out of the box. A good sharpening took care of that, but Dave Martel of noticed that they had the highest percentage of chipping new (but no more after one session of sharpening).

                                            1. re: deeznuts

                                              I've also been lurking on knifeforums, but I didn't notice any favoritism towards Shun's 3.5" parer. What makes it a favorite with the "in" crowd?

                                              Did you pick up the 8" Kanetsune on J-B? I don't plan on building a collection, but I can see the advantage in buying only one knife from each manufacturer (to see how they compare). At this point, I might just drop the idea of a santoku & focus on a 210mm gyuto & a 135mm petty. Then I might add a 165mm santoku & a 105mm petty later on.

                                              Unless, of course, you convince me that Shun's parer is worth buying now... ;-)

                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                  Great, that's all I need: more options! :-D

                                                  Joking aside, before diving into all of this knife stuff, I went thru all the knives we have & eliminated everything I never used. Now we have fewer than half the knives, but they're all sharp & they all get used.

                                                  OK, that's a lie. I only use three regularly, & maybe another two on occasion. So I'm looking to replace two of the three I use most often (the 3rd one's a bread knife that I don't intend to replace.) (Yet.)

                                                  I had both an 8" chef's & a 10" chef's. I never used the 10". On what occasions have you found a 240mm more useful than a 210mm?

                                                  1. re: Eiron

                                                    When I pick up my 8 inch chef knife it feels so small. Unlike the German chef knife the Japanese knife will not have a bolster. My 8 inch chef is heavier than my 240mm gyuto. The chef knife is thicker and the bolster adds to the weight. Also without the bolster you will chock up on the blade and many people use a pinch grip where the thumb and fingers are on the blade while the handle rests in the hand. This effectively gives you a shorter blade. From slicing meats to cutting onions the extra length is welcomed. As long as it's not to big for your cutting board. It may seem long in the beginning but the knives are so light in weight the extra length will not be a problem.

                                                    1. re: Eiron

                                                      This is a real personal decision and you gotta balance weight, comfortability, and counter space. The 240mm as scubadoo97 says is real popular because japanese knives are usually lighter therefore you can go with a longer knife. I bought a 210mm as I'm a small dude, and even then, now I want a 240mm. I didn't want to say anything earlier, but yeah scrap the santoku if you're not dead set on it.

                                                      Once you use the pinch grip as scuba says, the 210mm is quite short. and as I said, I'm a smaller guy. Of course I want a 300mm sujihiki (tha'ts next) but that's to impress my guests more than anything ...

                                                      The shun parer was popular when I first started on KF. Of course sentiments have changed (first shapton glasstones and king combostones were the shiznits now they like other stones) but its an easily available, aesthetic and not too expensive piece.
                                                      My kanetsune was bought at smokey mountain knife works but it was at a blowout price ($60, the same knife is $167 at j-b). It was a one time thing and I wished I bought all of them. I could have made a killing.

                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        what good is a BB&B coupon on Amazon?

                                        1. re: luniz


                                          Of course, a BB&B coupon is useless for Amazon purchase, but a BB&B coupon is useful for BB&B purchase and this Shun Santoku knife is on sale everywhere. I am just using that the Amazon website as an illustration. I could have put up a few other links from Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table .... but then you can still ask me the same question: What good is a BB&B coupon on "XXX"?

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            OK, this brings up a question similar to my original thread starter:

                                            Is a Shun santoku on sale for $64 a "better buy" than a Hattori HD santoku for $135?

                                            Both use the same VG-10 core & Damascus-style stainless exterior.
                                            The Hattori has more layers, but that's not necessarily a performance advantage in itself.
                                            The Shun has (presumably) better R&D incorporated into their products.

                                            So, am I buying any advantage other than "cool"?

                                            1. re: Eiron


                                              I have a Shun, but I do not have a Hattori, so I cannot say from real experience. Cowboy has both and he is in a better position to answer this, and I think he already said something above on Dec 09.

                                              The general consent is that Hattori is slightly better in edge retention than Shun, despite they use the same core steel and harden it to the same hardness (~61HRC). This may be due to the difference in carbide. I cannot speak from real experience on this.

                                              The advantage in the edge retention is probably very small. On top of that, Shun offers a lifetime warranty on their knives and has free knife sharpening service. With Hattori, you better learn to sharpen your knives on your own.

                                              As such, the Shun Santoku is probably a better deal as a kitchen knife. Even if you like the cool factor, a Santoku may not be the one to do so anyway. A Santoku is an all-purpose knife loved by many, but it is a recent invention/modification that the Japanese took on from the French Chef's knife. If you are into collecting Japanese knives, then you would probably want to collect traditional Japanese knives like a Deba, an Usuba or a Yanagiba.

                                              Keep in my mind, this is just an opinion.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                Yes, I went back & re-read Cowboy's comments. Several times. I also went thru his list of preferred knives (over Hattori) & don't think they're good selections for me. I love the appearance & design of Hattori's KD Series, but can't afford them (even if they were available).

                                                I understand the feelings on comparative edge quality, but, even with my recent acceptance of what a nice knife should cost, I'm not sure the reality matches the rumors. Hattori's HD knives are not made by him, only made by workers to his specs, then inspected & approved/rejected by him. Shun has the same process. As was mentioned earlier, Shun would have the experience & motivation to create the best edge for that price point.

                                                I do plan on (properly) sharpening my own knives, regardless of which brand I buy. I do NOT plan on collecting knives, although I do plan on buying Japanese-style rather than Western-style.

                                                The purpose of choosing the santoku is simply because of what a great value the Shun is while it's on sale right now. A petty & gyuto would make more sense to try in other brands since their price savings are not as large. I could even double my expense on those models if I'm saving a bunch on the santoku, right? :-D

                                                I guess my real question in this thread is, "Is it worth spending less?"

                                                The answer, of course, is, "Sometimes it is, & sometimes it isn't"!


                                                1. re: Eiron

                                                  Eiron (Greg),

                                                  To answer your final question: Yes, it is always worth spending LESS. :) Is it worth spending more? I don't know.

                                                  Cowboy is absolutely correct. Shun santoku edge has a more curved than other santoku than I know of, so if that idea bothers you, then don't get it. $65 (or $80) is a great bargin for a knife you like, but is a lot for a knife you hate. In comparison, the Wusthof Ikon 5" is also on sale. It is at $60 and its edge is very flat, but it is made with a softer steel. I think many people agree that Tojiro produces great knives at very reasonable prices. The only thing you need to aware is that the core cutting edge is carbon steel, not stainless steel, which some people love and some don't. You probably know these already and I am being slightly long-winded, but I figure it is better if I repeat something than omit something.

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Chem, the DP steel is a stainless. It's one of those stainless steels that is more prone to rusting than other stainless steels, but it is certainly not carbon/non-stainless in the way that hitachi white, Aogami SS or 52100 steel is carbon/non-stainless. No patina, only rusts with some real abuse. I wouldn't put one in a dishwasher, but I wouldn't worry about wiping it every few minutes either.

                                                    Tojiro doesn't publish DP's actual makeup, but I'd feel confident that its chromium content is over 13%. I haven't noticed much of a significant difference in rust resistance between the DP's steel and VG-10.

                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                      Thanks. Somehow I got confused. I will read about it when I have time.

                                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      The description of the Tojiro at Korin and elsewhere is wrong. It is not a carbon core like a Hiromoto AS, but a stainless through and through.

                                                      Still a great value, or at least before the price went up.

                                                      1. re: scubadoo97


                                                        Thanks. Cowboy also caught my mistake. Thanks for straighten me out. Somehow I read somewhere (possbility at Korin) that it is carbon steel. I remember specifically I decided not to get a Tojiro because reading something on along that line.

                                                2. re: Eiron

                                                  First off, a disclaimer: I do not own a Hattori. I have merely sharpened one, repeatedly, giving me a chance to dick around with it.

                                                  A shun is, in a way, a better deal at $64 than a Hattori at $135. I do not believe the difference in the steels' temper is all that significant.

                                                  The issue, though, is will you stop there? A shun santoku is something of a flawed knife - mainly in that it's a santoku with quite a curved edge, which fights the intended useage of that knife. This is not necessarily a big damn deal. Many use and love a shun santoku, it's well supported by kershaw, and it's otherwise well made. What you have to ask of yourself is whether you are likely to be happy with a shun santoku as described (still a great knife) or whether you think little things will start getting to you after long enough - if you'll start wondering why your santoku has so much curve and how it would glide through food if it were even thinner, even slicker in its geometry.

                                                  If that wonderer sounds like you, I don't think a shun is all that great of a deal anymore. Because it will wind up being $64 spent just to hold you over until you buy a hattori or god knows what. If you go read those guys over at knifeforums, they talk about this scenario all the time. Many of them discuss their wandering eye for knives as other men discuss their wandering eye for women - as their fatal flaw, all that's between them and happiness with a full bank account.

                                                  All that said, I don't think either knife is as good a deal as a tojiro DP nakiri or santoku, both $70.
                                                  Or for those willing to wipe off their blades and not use a dishwasher, a Hirmoto AS 160mm santoku for about $80.
                                                  But that's just me.

                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                    OK, yeah, now I see what you mean. Going into the store & comparing both Shun's 7" santoku & 8" chef's, they look like they're made from the same blank but the santoku has the tip rounded from the spine by 1" shorter. The edge curvature looks identical. I don't need both a 7" blunted chef's & an 8" full chef's.

                                                    I do like the look of the Damascus-style cladding, so I am willing to pay a bit more for a knife that I enjoy both using & looking at. Mac has a great reputation, but their Damascus-style knives are quite a bit more expensive than a lot of their other lines. I like a lot of what I see on JCK & JB. I just need to decide what I really want...

                                                  2. re: Eiron

                                                    I think at $65 it's quite a deal. One gripe a lot of people have with Shun is that they have too much belly. This is true of most of their knives. Too much curvature. Their chef's knife is curved, their chinese cleaver (which I have) is curved, and as CK mentions, their santoku.

                                                    The curve is conducive to rock chopping but not everyone does that (I push cut more often than not). But the Shuns, what I call hybrid knives, may introduce those used to the german style shape but with japanese steel. So you're used to rock chopping, you get a Shun, you get to rock chop but with a great steel and thin blade. Then you get the bug, you get bitten. Now you're filling out your arsenal with other fancy exotic japenese knives and now must learn to push/pull cut, and slice etc.

                                                    Then you watch videos of chefs using chinese cleavers masterfully and now you want one of those too. Here is the intro to Eat Drink Man Woman

                                                    So yeah, grab that Shun santoku. It's a good knife, don't worry about the curvature ... yet. Then don't ever look on these forums again or you may just have to start buying a whole bunch of other stuff!

                                                    1. re: deeznuts

                                                      I think cowboyaredee and you hit on a very good point. Cowboy hinted it and you say it out loud.

                                                      That is: I will never be happy if I keep on trying to get that ultimate perfect knife and take these forums too seriously. It will be a never ending quest. It will be a thirst that can never be quenched.

                                                      1. re: deeznuts

                                                        LOL, yeah, I've already been bitten! I thought having $1,100-worth of coffee/espresso eqpt was crazy, but I can see where knives (& All-Clad Copper Core pans) can scream past that mark in a hurry!

                                                        Thanks for the link to J-B. I've been going back & forth between their site & JCK. I see knives in my sleep...

                                                        1. re: Eiron

                                                          wait till you read up on sharpening ....

                                                          LOL. If you are set on a santoku ...

                                                          Hammered and damascus on one blade. How can you lose?

                                                          1. re: deeznuts


                                                            That is the one I got for my brother! I just got notification that the product has been delivered to him. I will get to hear from him if it actually looks as good as the picture.

                                                            VG-10, laminated wood handle, a flatter cutting edge than Shun , Damascus on the blade near the cutting edge, and Tsuchime (hammered pattern) on the blade near the spine....


                                                            If you really like a Santoku with a flatter blade and nice Damascus pattern, this one we are discussing is not a bad one.


                                                            or this:


                                                            I won't want to say the Shun one is a bad knife. It has a more curved edge, but many people like it. It is one of the best liked Santoku by the masses, like consumer search, Cook's Illustrated, cookingcache


                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                              Sweet! Oh please report back on that first one. The second one is nice too, with more layers but more importantly the "ho" japanese style handle. Then we get into custom handles and now we're getting out of hand.

                                                              1. re: deeznuts


                                                                I talked to my brother yesterday. He agreed the photo is accurate and the knife does look good, unlike those McDonald hamburger photos which look nothing like what you get. He said the Santoku has actually single bevel (chisel ground), which is not something I expected.

                                                                I didn't care for the extra layers of Damascus on the second knife, but I do like the handle much better. However, I thought a Santoku is not a traditional Japanese knife, so it is not a big deal to get a traditional handle. On top of that, my brother does not even know if he wants to be a Santoku user. This knife is really to give him some experience or rather remind him about Santoku -- as we have both used Santoku before.

                                                                About the second knife, its core cutting metal is Sandvik19C27. What is that? I know VG-10, or familiar with VG-10, but I do not know Sandvik19C27. Is it a better steel than VG-10? That is another major reason why I didn't get the second knife. I am not sure if I am really upgrading from the cheaper to the more expensive one.

                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                  Sandvik to me are a company that makes saws, but it looks like they are also a specialised steel maker...


                                                                  1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                    Thanks Paul. You are great. Still, what do you think of this Sandvik19C27 compared to the more popular VG-10? It states Sandvik19C27 has C 0.95% and Cr 13.5% (possibly more?)
                                                                    VG-10 has C ~1%, Cr ~15%, Mo ~1%, V 0.2%, Co 1.5%, Mn 0.5%

                                                                    As such, Sandvik19C27 seems to be a very simple composition steel and may not be any better VG-10 for kitchen cutlery. I wonder if the more expensive knife (with Sandvik19C27) may be an inferior knife.

                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                      My knowledge of these steels is limited to what I can google. However, the cost of the raw materials is probably a fraction of the blast work, rolling, forging, annealing and fabrication.

                                                                      1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                        I'm with Paul, I defer steel talk to those who know steel. These guys look to be knife makers and they discuss the steel, with one guy asking why more makers don't use what on paper looks to be a great steel.


                                                                        There is good discussion there, and it looks to be a lesser known but good quality steel. There actually seems to be a Kershaw (Shun) rep in there replying to the thread, imagine that.

                                                                        1. re: deeznuts


                                                                          :) I read the same forum a day or two ago. Yeah, it seem it is on par with VG-1 or maybe VG-10. I didn't see the Shun rep part, I will read it again. Thanks.

                                              2. Can't speak for the Shun as I've never used one, but after clicking on Jemon's link I can say that i'm lusting after those Hattori blades now. The mokume gane style swirls on that KD series is just- ahhhhh....
                                                But I will say that I've been very happy with my standard, no-frills Henckels 8" Chef's knife- it got me through all my culinary classes at college, several prep cook jobs, and even though it only sees action in my home kitchen these days, it's still my main knife of choice. We've been through a lot together this past 7 years, and I've used it for everything from slicing tomatoes to chopping through bone. I just sharpen it myself every so often with a small oiled stone I bought at a discount cooking outlet, and true it with a cheap steel that came with a cheap set of knifes my husband bought (which I can't stand). It's never let me down. IMHO, a fancy knife doesn't = a better chef.
                                                (that doesn't mean I'd turn down a Hattori blade if Santa wanted to leave one in my stocking....*g*)