One aspect of caring for your knives is maintaining the edge and, when needed, sharpening the blade. But it’s also important to be aware of how you’re using your knives daily.
The cutting surface you use makes a big difference in keeping your knives sharp.
Appropriate Cutting Surface - A good cutting board will help retain a sharp edge for substantially longer. Soft woods, such as hinoki, maple, oak are preferred or polyethylene plastic.
Inappropriate Cutting Surface - Tile, ceramic, synthetic, marble, granite, or any kind of glass cutting boards are not recommended and can be very hard on your knives.
Without the proper cutting technique, chips can develop in your blade. Most kitchen knives are designed to be used in a smooth, slicing motion—not in an up-and-down “chopping” manner. The proper cutting motion is a “locomotive” motion, imagine cutting wood with a handsaw, then slice through your food with a similar motion, intentionally pushing the knife forward and down as you slice, then pulling it back toward your body.
Always pay attention to where your fingers are in relation to the knife. Your skill and experience level should determine the speed at which you cut. When first slicing with a new knife, it’s best to slow down and enjoy the effortless precision and cutting ability of your knife.
Knives are intended to be used for cutting purposes only – not for stabbing or piercing. Do not use knives other than cleavers on bones, joints, or frozen foods. Most knives are designed for precision slicing rather than crushing down through hard materials. Use thinner knives on meats and vegetables only, not on bones or very thick-skinned vegetables. For this heavier kitchen work, use cleavers and heavier chef knives, which are designed to handle more aggressive work in the kitchen, such as breaking down chicken and preparing thick-skinned vegetables like butternut squash or melons.
As with any lifetime investment, it’s important to take the best care possible in order to prolong the life of your knife. DO NOT put your knife in the dishwasher. We recommend that you protect your investment by handwashing your blades with gentle dish soap. Don’t use soaps with citrus extracts or bleach; they can promote corrosion. Do not use scouring pads, steel, or gritty cleanser when cleaning the blades. Rinse and towel dry immediately. Let the knives air dry for a few minutes before returning them to storage. Never leave your knife sitting in a sink full of soapy water. It does metals no good to be submerged in water for prolonged periods of time, and it’s a danger to you when you reach in.
Micro-corrosion, which can result in tiny chips or missing pieces in your knife’s cutting edge, can occur because moisture is left on the cutting edge. Moisture weakens the steel and promotes micro-corrosion. If moisture is left on the cutting edge repeatedly, even normal use in the kitchen can result in small chips in the weakened sections of the edge. To guard against this, wash your knife immediately after use and dry it very thoroughly with an absorbent cloth or towel. Please take extra care to safely dry the sharp cutting edge of your Shun, keeping your fingers away from the edge.
Note: Handwashing is the best way to care for the wood handles of your knives. Although the wood has been stabilised, it is natural wood and, like all wood, will tend to shrink in very arid environments and swell in very humid environments. The handle colour may change slightly over time due to oils in the hand as well as the natural colour change of wood from oxidation and/or exposure to light. This is not a defect, but a natural part of the process.
After you have washed and dried your knives, store them in a block, knife case, in-drawer tray, or sheath. We do not recommend storing the knives unsheathed in a drawer, as this can be a potential hazard to the blades as well as your fingers.
HONING AND SHARPENING
In order to maximise the life of a blade, regular honing with a steel will be necessary. Weekly honing will extend the time between sharpening significantly. When the time comes to sharpen these premium blades, we recommend using a whetstone, the Kai electric sharpener (specifically designed to sharpen Shun’s 16° blade angle), or sending the knives to a professional sharpener.
Shun, Kai and Wusthof knives come with free lifetime sharpening. Contact us for more details.
SINGLE-BEVEL BLADE CARE
The Shun Classic Pro Line and Dual Core Yanagiba are single-bevelled blades. In addition to the general care above, you can give your single-bevelled blade some additional TLC to enhance its razor-like qualities.
Like those of most manufacturers, Shun single-bevel blades have a micro-bevel on the blade back. This enables you to use the blade right out of the box—and to be able to touch up the edge using a smooth hone or 6000-grit whetstone.
However, for chefs who want the most exquisite of single-bevel edges, both Shun Classic Pro and Dual Core Yanagiba can be further sharpened and shaped using a method known as uraoshi. The uraoshi process can be done by the knife owner using a series of progressively finer-grit whetstones or by a professional sharpening service.
Uraoshi flattens the back of the blade along the edge and the spine. The slight hollow in the blade back, which helps food release from the blade, remains in the blade's centre; only the edges are completely flattened. Since there's no angle to maintain, this makes sharpening easier; you simply pull the blade flat across the whetstone. It reduces sharpening effort, too, since you're only concerned with the edges and not the entire back of the blade. Further, it strengthens the edge.
That said, uraoshi sharpening is a learned skill and Shun recommends having a professional sharpener do this for you unless you are a skilled sharpener yourself. It is not required in order to use your knife, but it is a professional enhancement.
A sharpening steel is a steel rod with a handle consisting of or having a layer of an abrasive such as ceramic or diamond. Sharpening is the process of removing material on a knife to create a brand new edge. We can differentiate these by 2 types: those that can sharpen by removing material from the blade of the knife and those that can only set the edge.
How to use- Grip the knife in your dominant hand, sharp edge down, in one hand, and the steel in the other. Cross them, placing the knife blade against the steel at a 20-degree angle. Pull the knife along the entire length of the steel. Repeat 3 to 5 times on both sides of the knife.
- Diamond- Diamond sharpening steels are a steel which is coated in an abrasive made of tiny diamonds embedded in the surface. Because it is made from diamonds, this abrasive surface is able to “eat” or file away a large amount of steel from the blade with every stroke. The only downside to diamond steels is that they are more likely to wear out faster than other types.
- Ceramic and Titanium- To keep things simple, both ceramic and titanium would be placed at an intermediate level in regards to quality. Filing away smaller amounts than a diamond steel.
Honing steels are usually made with a grooved steel that neither sharpen nor set
the edge, but are used to straighten and realign the knife edge after several uses.
How to use- Simply hold the knife in your dominant hand, lay it nearly flat against the steel at about 22 degrees, then draw it across the steel 10 times on each side. The steel won't restore an edge to a dull knife, but it will help you keep an edge longer on a well-maintained knife.
This is the best method by far. Not only will it give you the best edge, it also
removes the least amount of material. With a fine enough grit, your knife should be able to take hairs off your arm when you've finished. The higher the grit the finer the stone.
- 240/400 grit- Use for knives that have damaged or blunt edges.
- 1000 grit- This is the main sharpening grit used to re-sharpen and remove burrs.
- 3000 grit- Use for fine sharpening and removal of burrs - smoothens the knife edge.
- 5000 grit- Use for the removal of burrs and polishing the knife edge.
- 8000 grit- Use for polishing the knife edge, can remove most burrs.
Sharpeners usually come in 3 types, these can be a water, steel or stone based
sharpener, or combo sharpener. They are a very quick and popular method of sharpening knives.
How to use- Pull the knife through the course slot of the sharpener, from the heel to the tip, using even pressure, three to six times (pull through more times for more dull or damaged knives).