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Shun Classic Chef Knife Review

Shun Classic Chef Knife is one of the most well known Japanese knife manufacturer in America. It was popularized by Alton Brown in his show good eats. Since then, the company has come out with many different version of their popular knife. However, the classic chef knife still remains as one of the best seller. This review will take a closer look at the design and features of Shun Knives. We will see whether they are worth the price tag that they are asking.

Shun Classic Chef Knife Review Quick Summary

Shun Classic Chef Knife
BolsterHalf Bolster
Steel34 Damascus with VG-Max
Blade Angle16 Degree
Rockwell HardnessUnspecified
Place of ManufacturerJapan
ThoughtsA pretty well designed knife. The thin profile and tall blade makes it easy to sharpen. I could not find the hardness rating but its pretty hard. I would not use it to cut hard items or it will chip. You should also hand wash and dry immediately after use. It can rust if you are not careful.
Reviewed CookwareShun Classic 8” Chef’s Knife with VG-MAX Cutting Core and Ebony PakkaWood Handle

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History of Shun Knives

Shun is a brand under the Company Kai. Kai was founded by Saijiro Endo over 800 years ago. While that may seem like a long time, this is actually very common for Japanese Company. Currently, Kai has three major brand under them. Kershaw, Zero Tolerance, Kai Cutlery and Shun Knives. Although they are most known for Shun, their history of knife making is one of the oldest around.

Shun Classic Chef Knife Design

This section will discuss the design and features of Shun Classic Chef Knife. We will go over handle and blade design.


The handle is made of a PakkaWood material. Which is a composite of wood and plastic. It has a unique wood like appearance that has none of the downside of Wood. It is resistant to shrinking, rot and discoloration. While some prefer a traditional wood handle, the plastic one are actually superior in terms of durability.

The Shape of the handle is a traditional Japanese D shape handle. While these handles are designed to be used more for the right handed individual, reports are that you can still use it comfortably with your left hand.

The tang is a full composite tang. While there is no information about what this means…I assume that it means full tang. The handle probably covers the length of the blade. A full tang blades are generally more desirable. They are generally more durable than knives who are half tang. I am not too sure how the blade is held together since I do not see any rivets, I am assuming its glued together.


Unlike traditional Japanese knives, the blade shape is very much like a western style of knife. It has quite a bit of a belly that encourages a rocking motion. To fully utilize the knife, you need to roll it across the board to get a clean cut. Japanese chef knife usually have a flat profile that lets you tap chop it. Whether this is good or not depends on your cutting style.

The blade is grinded to a 16 degree angle on either side. This is actually not that steep for a Japanese knife. Some german manufacturer like wusthof actually have a steeper degree than this. Interesting that they would choose only 16 degree. Nevertheless, the steeper you go, the sharper it can cut. However, to compensate for this, you usually need to increase the hardness of the blade.

Interesting enough, I could not find any official information about the hardness of the blade. But the general idea is that the harder the blade, the better the edge retention. The drawback is that they are generally more prone to chipping. The reverse is true. The softer it is, the more ductile and durable the blade is. Generally for Japanese knife, you get a hardness of around 58 plus. Which is fairly hard but not hard to the point of being brittle. Having said that, I would not use this knife for chopping bones. Just softer items like vegetables. There are numerous reports about chipping.


The blade uses a VG-MAX steel. Which is supposed to be their own blend of steel. However, I have heard reports that these are basically vg-10 steel. At the exterior there are 34 layers of steel to give it that damascus look. There are some claims that this helps prevent food from sticking. My experience has said otherwise. Really, its just there for looks. I personally like how subtle the cladding is. But I hate how prominent the Japanese Kanji is.

In terms of bolster, it uses a half bolster design. These half bolster are the best. They let you sharpen the full length of the blade. A full bolster will get in the way, leaving a nub. In the past, a full bolster usually means that its a forged knife, however, stamp knives can come with a bolster.

In terms of thickness, the blade is relatively thin. Thin blades are great for slicing things. Usually european knives are thick encouraging wedging instead of slicing. The blade height is also pretty tall. Tall blades makes cutting easier when you use the claw method.

Shun Classic Chef Knife Thoughts

Overall, this is a pretty good knife. What I dont like is how I cannot find any information about the hardness. Based on user experience I am guessing its at least 58 plus. What this means is that the blade will be brittle and difficult to sharpen. However, it will retain the edge a lot better. Luckily, shun has a lifetime sharpening service so you do not have to worry about that. Just be aware that this knife is limited for more delicate task. I would not use it to cut hard items.

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