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Old 05-20-2010, 10:25 PM   #1
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Shun Premier

Anyone have experience with a Shun Premier series Chef's knife or Santoku? I'm about to buy my first good knife. (I'm sure there are a lot of these threads, but I can't find anything on the forum about this line). I'll admit I am drawn to the look of these knives. And I am not at all going to buy one because it looks cool, but I am leaning toward it as an option. Ultimately I'm drawn to old technology. French or German plain old carbon steel really sucks me in. I like to take care of my tools. I don't mind keeping cast iron (which I use nearly exclusively) or maintaining my carbon steel woks. I guess I'm wondering if the Premier knives from Shun are all about looks.

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Old 05-21-2010, 11:12 AM   #2
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I don't have any experience with the Premier series but last christmas we got 3 knives in the classic line and they have been immensley disappointing. All 3 blades have developed chips making them unusable. The retailer where I bought them says that they were 'abused' but they haven't been. I have never damaged a knife in my life and am very careful with them. I'm sticking with my old henckles.
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Old 05-22-2010, 02:32 AM   #3
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Chips aren't really a big deal, unless they're absolutely enormous. They'll sharpen right out. Even good sized chips will be gone after a few sharpenings. In the case of very bad ones I generally work the chips out on a belt grinder, then sharpen 'em up by hand. I've fixed some dreadful damage that way.

That said, I'll agree that Shuns chip more easily than a Wusthof, just comes with the territory with a thinner edge that's a lot harder. Just for kicks you ought to post a picture of the damage.
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Old 05-22-2010, 02:33 AM   #4
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To the OP- I haven't yet handled one of the new Shuns, but the steel seems to be the same. The differences between those and the Classics appear to just be cosmetic.
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Old 05-22-2010, 06:19 AM   #5
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Replying to the OP, just to talk a bit more about carbon steel.

Compared to any Stainless steel, Carbon steel will
- Take a sharper edge
- Be easier to resharpen/hone
- Is more ductile and is therefore less likely to chip, snap or dent if dropped (it bends then flexes back into position.

This all comes down to the fact the when you introduce chrome into a steel alloy it forms much larger crystals than an alloy without chrome.

The downside.
- You will need to put a lot more maintenance into it. If you don't dry it immediately after use and oil it up when put into storage it will rust. Rust will form in less than 24 hours if you put it away damp.
- The corners on the spine of the knife are actually sharp and can draw blood. I learned that one the hard way.
- You should be using a smooth steel, not a grooved steel for honing. You get a better result but it takes more effort. I use a pre ww2 F Dick steel, but if you could get your hands on an old English pipe steel that would be even better. If you want to go modern you could go glass or ceramic, but I haven't used those so can't comment specifically on their suitability for CS knives.

I wouldn't get a CS knife unless
(a) it was going to be used very regularly; and
(b) you know how to sharpen it yourself.
If you're not using it on a daily basis you could end up with a very nasty surprise if you get careless with it, and if you're not sharpening it yourself you're not getting the full benefit of truly scary sharpness.

On the positive side you can get very good CS knives for about half the price of a good J-knife. Lion, 'K', or Elephant Sabatier are all good brands (There's about 8 companies that can use the 'Sabatier' name). Robert Herder is a good name for German CS knives, but postage from Germany is a killer.
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:34 AM   #6
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some very good input, thanks everyone. I'm still drawn to carbon steel. It will be used daily, and well taken care of. Also, I may not know how to sharpen it myself but the store I'm buying from offers free sharpening for life. (a good deal I figured). And I know I'll learn how to do it myself anyhow. I hate people doing things for me that I know I'm capable of with a good bit of practice.
But the shun knives. . . They are made of damascus high carbon stainless steel. And they seem to have a great following. They are said to hold an edge as long as any.

Any other opinions out there?
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardly Core View Post
some very good input, thanks everyone. I'm still drawn to carbon steel. It will be used daily, and well taken care of. Also, I may not know how to sharpen it myself but the store I'm buying from offers free sharpening for life. (a good deal I figured). And I know I'll learn how to do it myself anyhow. I hate people doing things for me that I know I'm capable of with a good bit of practice.
But the shun knives. . . They are made of damascus high carbon stainless steel. And they seem to have a great following. They are said to hold an edge as long as any.

Any other opinions out there?
I would be careful of a free sharpening service on a good knife. Good sharpening takes talent, practice, and time.
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:39 PM   #8
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Fair enough. I know the guy personally though, and I know he is good at and proud of what he does.
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Old 05-26-2010, 11:20 PM   #9
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One thing I'd suggest if you go with a Euro carbon is to find a brand that doesn't have a bolster. That's the super thick part that runs from the heel of the blade up to the choil. A full bolster will make it impossible to sharpen the edge all the way to the heel. Eventually you'll get a little hollow spot just in front of the bolster where the edge won't touch the cutting board anymore. Very annoying. Skillful sharpening, taking off just the minimal amount, will prolong the inevitable but if you don't reduce the bolster you'll get that spot eventually. At least if you sharpen on stones.

I'm not 100% in agreement that carbon always takes a better edge than all modern stainless steels. I think the difference is a bit overblown. Sure, the chrom/moly stuff that most Euro knives use isn't as good as decent carbon, but I've found that many modern tool steels and alloys will take a very good edge indeed. Many will hold that edge better than carbon, especially if you cut acid stuff like pineapple and tomatoes.
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Old 05-27-2010, 05:29 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Hardly Core View Post
some very good input, thanks everyone. I'm still drawn to carbon steel. It will be used daily, and well taken care of. Also, I may not know how to sharpen it myself but the store I'm buying from offers free sharpening for life. (a good deal I figured). And I know I'll learn how to do it myself anyhow. I hate people doing things for me that I know I'm capable of with a good bit of practice.
But the shun knives. . . They are made of damascus high carbon stainless steel. And they seem to have a great following. They are said to hold an edge as long as any.

Any other opinions out there?
Shuns aren't made from Damascus Steel, they are made from VG-10 steel and then clad with Damascus steel, which as far as I can tell is mainly for cosmetic purposes. Still is excellent knife steel and is no way a criticism of the Shun, it's just the damascus steel is there to look pretty while the VG-10 steel does the hard work.

There's no such thing as knife steel that is good at everything. So by making a knife out of harder steel, the following benefits are gained.
- The knife can be thinner
- The knife will retain its edge for longer
But it comes with the following costs
- The knife is more brittle and more susceptible to chips, especially the tip.
- It takes longer and requires more effort to hone/sharpen the edge.

Comparing the a VG-10 J-Knife (eg Shun) to a Carbon Steel knife.
The CS knife will require more regular sharpening and much more maintenance. Both will take incredibly sharp edges, and the J-Knife will hold its edge for longer. The CS knife will be more resilient to drops and accidents.
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