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May 25, 2011 07:48 AM

Shun Knive help

I have have a classic 8" chef's knife and it has some tiny nicks in the edge that arent terrible but I can feel them when I hone the edge.

I recently bought a sharpening stone but I am not sure if I should keep grinding the edge until I sharpen as deeply at the nick.

Any ideas?

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  1. The answer, unfortunately, is 'it depends.' For starters, if you're not yet skilled at using the whetstone, I wouldn't pay much attention to the nicks. You don't necessarily have the skill yet to reprofile or repair a knife without causing more damage than you're fixing (making sure the edge stays even and straight is probably more important than getting out those nicks). Just work on getting a nice sharp edge. The nicks will go away eventually anyway with enough sharpening.

    Another factor is how big the nick is. A little rough spot on the edge that could maybe fit a grain of sand inside of it? Or a big chip you can see from 10 feet away. The former is easy to take out and will likely happen in the course of normal sharpening - don't pay any extra attention to the part of the blade with the nick in it, but keep sharpening the entire blade until the nick is gone. But the latter - there are times where I deliberately don't fully sharpen out a large chip on a knife that someone brings me because after talking with the knife's owner I don't feel that removing that much metal (and shortening the life of the knife) is worth taking out that chip, considering how the knife is used.

    Which brings up another factor - what you use the knife for. If you use it to cut a lot of sushi for some reason, a nick in the edge is more problematic than if you just use it as a general, all-purpose chef knife. Is it still cutting well? Does the nick bother you in use?

    Also, where are you in terms of learning to sharpen and how motivated are you? The flipside of my first paragraph is that you don't learn to sharpen nearly so well unless you try things. If you can already create a nice sharp edge, then learning to repair damage and reprofile is the next step. The first major reprofiling job I ever did was hugely instructive for me. Any damage you do to your knife can be fixed later once you're more skilled. But you may do damage to your knife in the short run. And a Shun is not cheap - not an ideal practice knife for that reason.

    Also, now that I've gotten thoroughly ahead of myself, it occurs to me to ask - what type of sharpening stone did you get? What grit? With some finer stones, I wouldn't consider sharpening out chips - it would take forever.

    17 Replies
    1. re: cowboyardee

      Not sure what grit of stone that I got only that it has two different grits, one on either side. I have used it only a few times but I did notice a significant difference in sharpness after I have started using it.

      The nicks dont really bother me but its more and issue if I cut something delicate like sushi...but I dont do that much so I guess its not the end of the world. The nick is about as large as two grains of sand but i definitely feel it.

      I guess I will just try to keep it sharp. (working on my technique on the whetstone.)

      1. re: FoodExpression

        Just out of curiosity, oilstone (carborundum stone) or waterstone?

        You start having some success with the whetstone creating a nice sharp edge, then give those nicks a second look. But for now, just learning to get down the basics of sharpening is enough to focus on.

        For nicks that small, by the time you're successfully creating sharp edges the nicks will be sharpened out. There may be new ones by then. They're not hard to deal with. Update the thread at that point and i'll give you what help I can over the internet.

        1. re: cowboyardee

          I have a waterstone and I seem to be doing okay..ive only sharpened the knife twice so I havent gotten as far as the nicks yet. I mean..the knife feels like its getting sharper but it doesnt feel like its razor sharp. I do about 10 passes on each side held at about a 20 deg angle on the waterstone....then 7, then 5, then 2......Not sure if i am doing it correctly but it def feels a little more sharp than before.

          1. re: FoodExpression

            A 20-degree angle is perfect for western knives, but probably too obtuse for a Shun. Try coloring the edge with a magic marker, then finding the angle that removes the ink from the entire bevel.

              1. re: FoodExpression

                Like everyone said. 20o is too obtuse for Shun. Shun factory edge is 16o. Just beware that you will have to spend some time to bring the edge back to 15-16o. Make sure you get to feel a burr.


                  1. re: FoodExpression

                    You can de-burr by "stropping" on leather,newsprint,balsa wood or on a high grit stone or running the blade through cork or hard felt.

                    1. re: FoodExpression

                      The burr is to ensure you have sharpening the edge so that two side met. Otherwise, you may simply be sharpening on the sides and thining the blade. This is usually a bigger problem when you go from a higher angle to a lower angle (in this case, 20o to 15o).

                      Like Pete said, you will eventually have to deburr. To some extend you deburr when you go to higher grit stones. The burr becomes smaller. For final deburr, you can strop on a leather belt, wood or just your highest grit stone....

                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I agree that building a burr and detecting it along the entire edge is the best way for a beginner to monitor his progress (at least on the coarse stone).

                      But I have to add for the OP - you'll only build a big easily noticeable burr if you keep sharpening on one side of the knife until you feel it, rather than switching back and forth ever few strokes. Switching flips the burr to the other side and also abrades some of it away.

                      Once you've built a nice burr on one side, apply the same number of strokes to the other side. Then deburr and move to the finer stone. Being off by a few strokes is no huge deal, BTW, if you lost count. Eventually you won't really have to count strokes or build a huge burr, but that will all come with experience and feel.

                  2. re: alanbarnes


                    Try decreasing your angle to 10-15 deg and increase your # of passes to 50-60 per side.

                    Some great sharpening youtube videos from JKI


                    1. re: petek

                      I hadn't seen that series yet. Looks pretty decent. Jon Broida doesn't give much instruction or help for sharpening motions besides his own. But on the other hand, his style is a nice, well controlled, reproducible motion that should work well for a lot of people, and he walks you through it quite well. He definitely looks like a good sharpener.

                      His trick for sharpening tips is something I hadn't even seen before. I'll have to give that a try sometime and see how it works for me.

                      For the OP, I suggest looking at these. You can also supplement with this series of videos:
                      The second one down is especially useful because it demonstrates the magic marker trick, and the series Pete linked to doesn't give much assistance for finding the correct angle in the first place.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        I keep forgetting about CKTG's sharpening videos,very informative.J Brodia's vids are a little more specific,tip sharpening,single bevel knives,micro bevels etc.Not bad for free though.Then there's always Dave Martell's videos,which I find too technical and long winded for my skill set.

                        1. re: petek

                          I haven't seen Dave's full sharpening video. Just the 10 minute clips they have on youtube. They do seem a bit esoteric, but I think that's a function of filming a bit of a 4 hour, in person, group sharpening lesson and putting it on the internet. They're interesting, but not of much use for someone looking to learn to sharpen their first knife.

                          When I started sharpening, none of these videos were available. I think it would have made things a lot easier to have them. I tried a lot of tricks initially to try to get my angle consistent (one of my favorites was propping the stone up at about a 15 deg angle and then holding the knife as perfectly horizontal as I could to sharpen - smart in theory but problematic in practice).

                          1. re: petek

                            Yes, Jon's videos (only watched two) are pretty good. His method for tips is interesting. Instead of moving the blade more perpendicular to the stone, he asks to align the blade parallel with the stone for tips.

                        2. re: petek

                          I followed these videos and my knives are now pretty sharp. I can completely understand now that there is an entire culture surrounding the treatment and sharpening of knives.

                          I am by no means a great knife sharpener but I am sure after a few months of practice my knives will get better and better.

                          Thanks so much for the helpful videos!

                          1. re: FoodExpression

                            "I followed these videos and my knives are now pretty sharp. I can completely understand now that there is an entire culture surrounding the treatment and sharpening of knives. "

                            Thank you for your feedbacks. It is nice to know that we are able to help. More importantly, you are able to keep your knives in their top conditions. Yes, when a knife is properly sharpened, it will almost always be sharper than out of the factory (out of the box). I still remember the day I found out that my inexpensive Dexter-Russell knives can get much sharper than the factory edge. I was surprised. I am sure you are a good knife sharpener. Please drop by often and we can exchange ideas and tips.

              2. Let's back up a step here. Shun uses pretty hard steel for all of their knives, and sharpen to pretty accute angles. So the edge is inherently more brittle than what you'll find with a European blade. Cutting into bone, twisting the knife even slightly when it's in contact with the cutting board, and various other things that will simply dull a Wusthof will chip a Japanese blade. So you may want to revisit your knife technique to prevent this problem from happening in the future.

                The reason that people like Japanese knives in spite of their brittleness is that hard steel takes and holds an edge better. A softer steel blade will tend to roll over, and need to be straightened out by honing. Hard steel doesn't do that. So you may want to reconsider honing your Shun. In fact, making a mistake while you're honing is a really easy way to chip that blade (the hone's a lot harder than, say, a piece of broccoli).

                If you are accomplished at hand-sharpening, and if feel comfortable that you can maintain the blade angle set by the factory on your knife, then tiny nicks will disappear with time. Removing larger chips will require putting a new edge on the blade, which is a much bigger job.

                I'd be remiss if I didn't plug my favorite sharpening device here: the EdgePro Apex. For those of us who have limited patience, dexterity, and attention to detail, it's the easiest way to put a world-class edge on a knife.

                8 Replies
                  1. re: petek

                    It's a better edge than I've ever gotten from a professional sharpner (but then again, I haven't had work done by any of the hand-sharpening masters). My kitchen knives are sharp enough to shave with, their various bevels are absolutely consistent, and it's a snap to put a mirror finish on an edge.

                    If you have any adjectives you think would be more accurate, I'm wide open to suggestions.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      How about "scary sharp"or "hair poppin' sharp" or"wicked sharp"

                      I'm just messing' with ya..:D

                      1. re: petek

                        So sharp that vegetables slice themselves in fear at the mere sight of the blade. So sharp that I shed blood just walking into the room.

                        Seriously, when things are at their best I can hold a sheet of copy paper by one corner and slice thin strips off the opposite edge. That's sharp.

                        Unfortunately it doesn't last forever. It's way past time to break out the waterstones and tune up everything in the kitchen.

                      2. re: alanbarnes

                        You must have an Edge Pro!!!

                        Edit-Missed the stone part D'oh

                    2. re: alanbarnes

                      That may be the most intimidating looking piece of kitchen equipment i have ever seen.

                      1. re: FoodExpression

                        Exactly. For $300. you could buy yourself another knife(or 2) and a higher grit stone.

                    3. It is not unsual to have a little tiny nick on a Shun knives. This is a fairly common complainet for the factory edge. The good news is that you can resharpen the edge and the new resulting edge should be a bit more stable. As for the sharpening techniques, cowboy knows just about as much as anybody on this board, so you are getting good advises here.

                      1. Shun offers free sharpening (or at least they did last year when I sent mine to them, and they did a good job on some well used knives with some nicks). Why not just send yours to them? They even pay the return shipping.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Zeldog

                          Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Shun either is ending that service or has already ended that service.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            Like you said, the service has been terminated. From Shun's website:

                            "What's the best way to sharpen my knives?
                            As of April 1st, 2011, Shun Cutlery is offering the highest quality knife sharpening and restoration services through our partnership with Perfect Edge Sharpening. Prices for sharpening and restoration services have been negotiated at a substantially reduced cost for Shun knife owners...."


                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics


                              Looks like they offer a 25% discount on their regular sharpening prices, but that probably doesn't make up for the cost of paying for shipping both ways. And then there's the not having your knives for a week or so issue.

                              If anyone is looking for a professional sharpening for a Shun, I'd suggest they check out professional sharpeners in their area. Any pro who sharpens kitchen knives has most likely seen plenty of Shuns by now.

                        2. As others with greater expertise have already said, simply sharpening your knife on a waterstone might well get rid of the nicks.

                          One of my knives (a Masahiro paring knife) got a 1-mm nick in it during the big earthquake here in Japan a couple of months ago (fortunately the only knife that was damaged). I was just going to order a new one, but then I said "what the heck" and decided to try sharpening it out. I didn't really have high expectations, but I figured I might as well try since I was going to replace it anyway.

                          After two or three short sessions on a 400-grit waterstone, I was amazed to see that the nick was completely gone. And after further sharpening on a 1000-grit stone and a bit of stropping, I had a beautiful, smooth, super-sharp edge again.

                          Give it a shot!