Shun & Kai Cutlery Care
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 on a daily basis.
Cutting Surface & Cutting Technique
The cutting surface you use makes a big difference in keeping your knives sharp. A good cutting board will help retain a sharp edge for substantially longer. Soft woods, such as hinoki, are preferred. Tile, ceramic, synthetic, marble, granite, or any kind of glass cutting boards are not recommended and can be very hard on your knives.
Shun cutlery is designed to be used in a smooth, slicing motion—never in an up-and-down “chopping” manner. 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 Shun, it’s best to slow down and enjoy the effortless precision and cutting ability of your new knife.
Knives are intended to be used for cutting purposes only – not for stabbing or piercing. Use your Shun knives on meats and vegetables only, not on bones or very thick-skinned vegetables. For this heavier kitchen work, try the Shun Classic Meat Cleaver (DM0767), or Shun Classic 8” Western Chef’s Knife (DM0766), 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.
Cleaning and Storage
As with any lifetime investment, it’s important to take the best care possible in order to prolong the life of your knife. Shun recommends 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 stainless 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.
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.
Note: Handwashing is also the best way to care for the wood handles of your Shun knives. Although the wood has been stabilized, it is natural wood and, like all wood, will tend to shrink in very arid environments and swell in very humid environments. The handle color may change slightly over time due to oils in the hand as well as the natural color change of wood from oxidation and/or exposure to light. This is not a defect, but a natural part of the process.
Honing and Sharpening
In order to maximize the life of the blade, regular honing with a Shun 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 or to our Tualatin, Oregon center for free sharpening.
Your Shun or Kai knife comes with free lifetime sharpening. Just send the knife to our Tualatin, Oregon facility. We’ll sharpen it for free and return it to you. (If you live in the area, you may drop by our Warranty Department and we'll sharpen up to two knives for you while you wait. More than that and we'll get them to you the next day.)
Single-Bevel Blade Care
The Shun Classic Pro Line and Dual Core Yanagiba are single-beveled blades. In addition to the general care above, you can give your single-beveled blade some additional TLC to enhance its razor-like qualities.
Like those of most manufacturers, Shun single-beveled 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 center; 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.