The Joy of a Sharp Knife


It’s Worth the Investment…

I’m no blade-geek, but I have used a fair number of knife sets in my lifetime. Our knives at home when I was a kid, my first set (yikes!) in college, various ‘miracle’ knives (sucker!), my first set of Hinkels—but nothing comes close to the feel, precision, and pure joy that I experience with these Shun knives. And I’ll likely never need to replace them—ever.

These knives feel balanced and comfortable in my hands—allowing flexibility and confidence that I find so important when handling sharp blades. I use my 8” Chef’s Knife for almost everything—and its balance and handle shape is such that I can even perform tight and precise cutting with ease (there are about five or six ways I hold this knife—and they all feel fantastic). This being said, feel is a matter of personal preference—so I strongly suggest trying them out before you buy anything. Above, I’m about to thinly slice some onions, mushrooms, and avocados for tonight’s chicken barbecue—using (l-r) the 4” Paring Knife, the Flexible Fillet Knife, and the Classic 8” Chef’s Knife.

The Edge…

To create such an extraordinarily sharp blade, these knives combine layered steel construction and edging with a very thin (16°) edge-angle. Alton Brown (one of my favorite T.V. Chefs) has an introductory video on Shun Knives that explains this and many other aspects of these knives—but regardless of the technical aspects of its construction, it truly feels sharper than any other knife I’ve used. In the photo below, you can see the VG-10 edge steel supported by the 410 steel with its distinctive wood-grain pattern (you can also tell which knives I use most—the logo on the paring knife is clear, while the logos on the fillet and chef’s knife have practically faded away). This shiny edge—durable and sharp—makes cutting a tomato a thing of beauty, and dicing onions faster (and more consistent) than using a food processor. It might sound odd—but these knives are fun to use—and in my opinion, good, sharp knives are essential, and well worth the investment.


Honing and Sharpening…

Every few days, I’ll use the Honing Steel to keep the knife edge aligned, and thus, sharp. Contrary to popular thought, a honing steel doesn’t sharpen an edge, it merely straightens it—but a straight and aligned edge is essential to its sharpness. Although I’ve had these knives for years, I haven’t trusted them to anyone to sharpen—not yet. Unless you really know what you’re doing, I suggest getting your knives professionally sharpened, and in the case of Shun knives, by someone who knows how to sharpen Japanese knives. I’m thinking of taking mine to Yoshihiro Cutlery in Los Angeles (even though they don’t sell Shun’s) to have them sharpened, however if you’re brave, you can buy sharpening stones and do it yourself.

Food, Cooking, PersonalAnthony George