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Shun Knives | Kitchen Cutlery by Kershaw

In just five short years, Shun knives have gone from nonexistent to top dog among high-end kitchen knives. Their ascendancy has been nothing short of breathtaking and has been met with serial defections from industry household names Henckels and Wusthof.

Their prominence is well deserved. While Global first introduced many Western restaurant workers to high-performing Japanese knives, Shun brought the concept to the mainstream. Shun proved a lot of doubters wrong when it showed that the West was ready for premium knives that were razor sharp and lightweight. Shun knives were more expensive than their predecessors and in need of more preventative maintenance but once amateur chef’s got their hands on them, they never went back. See our article The Rise and Fall of the Great Knife-Makers for more details on this transformation.

Kershaw and Shun

Shun knives are made by Kai Cutlery, a large and well respected Japanese blade-making firm. Kai purchased Kershaw Cutlery in 1978 and formed Kai USA to manufacture and distribute American-made knives. When it became clear that there was a market for high end kitchen knives using age-old Japanese knife-making techniques, Kai was perfectly positioned to lead the charge.

Their Shun Knives were first introduced in 2003 and have since become the knives of choice at such retailers as Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table and Crate and Barrel.

Shun Classic Knives

Shun KnivesAimed squarely at the enthusiast home chef, Shun Classic Knives are the most popular of the Shun lines.

They use a Japanese steel called VG-10, which is much harder and sharper than most European steels. Many people agree that the sharpness, coupled with a lightweight feel and a traditional Western handle makes for an excellent combination.

These knives are not intended to be put in the dishwasher, or to be left soaking in water. The thin, sharp blades can easily be dulled or stained by such use.

The handles are made of pakka wood, a resin-infused hardwood, and given a teardrop shape that allows them to fit comfortably in the hand.

Some will argue that Shun Classic knives are expensive. And it’s true that, with an eight inch Chef’s knife starting in the $100 range, these knives are not for the spendthrift. But Kai felt that premium materials and premium performance demand a premium price. And these knives certainly deliver on that.

Shun Elite Knives

The Shun Elite series is Kai’s second most popular kitchen line. At first glance, they may seem similar to the Classic knives. But there are some important distinctions here. The most important is the steel. Elite knives are made of SG-2, a premium “powdered” alloy.

Powdered steels are created through a unique process that allows uniform distribution of elements throughout the material. This creates a steel that can be made extremely hard and, therefore, sharp.

The handles are pakka wood, similar to the Classic knives. Care and maintenance is similar as well.

Shun Ken Onion Knives

Ken Onion by Shun 8-Inch Chef's KnifeKen Onion is probably the most well-known knife designer alive today. Ken invented “Speed Safe”, a ground-breaking automatic knife-opening mechanism. Ken designed several ground-breaking knives for Kershaw, including the Chive, the Leek and the Blackout.

Ken Onion had no prior experience designing kitchen knives, but agreed to take on the task nonetheless. This inexperience was actually beneficial to Ken as it caused him to question some of the basic assumptions behind kitchen knife design.

His resulting Shun Ken Onion line features a damascus-patterned VG-10 blade, pakka wood handles and, most distinctively, an ergonomic shape designed to limit arm fatigue during long chopping sessions.

Not all are fans of the knives unique shape. Some complain that the ergonomic design works well only for some hand sizes. But many industry professionals swear by them, and they’ve developed quite a significant following.

Shun Steel, Pro 2 and Others

The Shun brand also includes a few lesser-known lines. Shun Steel knives feature a stainless steel handle. Shun Pro knives feature a single-bevel that allows for a narrower edge angle and, therefore, a sharper blade. Shun Pro II features a patterned handle, a slightly thicker blade as well as Shun’s sharpest blade.

Kai also offers budget knives, distributed under the Kershaw Wasabi name.

Where to Buy

Shun knives can be found at many major retailers, including Amazon.com. We’ve written several in-depth reviews of individual Shun items that you might want to check out before purchasing. Those are listed below.


Shun Bread Knife, Serrated 9 Inch

KAI Premier Tim Malzer TM Kitchen Cutlery from Blade Magazine

Shun Bread Knife, Serrated 9 Inch | KAI Premier Tim Malzer TM Kitchen Cutlery from Blade Magazine

From the KAI Shun Premier Tim Malzer line of fine knives, this 9-Inch Shun Premier Bread Knife is the only one of the six knives in the series which sports a serrated edge. Built for slicing delicate breads and pastries and for sawing through hard crusts, the Premier ...





Shun Utility Slicing Knife by Tim Malzer

Premier Award Winning Kitchen Cutlery w/ Pakkawood Handle

Shun Utility Slicing Knife by Tim Malzer | Premier Award Winning Kitchen Cutlery w/ Pakkawood Handle

The Shun Premier 6-1/2-Inch Utility Knife from Shun's Tim Malzer series will find plenty of use in your kitchen with a blade long enough to serve as slicer, prep knife, and sandwich cutter. The hand-hammered Damask steel and re-designed walnut Pakkawood handle made the Premier product line Blade Magazine's ...





Shun Premier Santoku, Damascus Tsuchime Finish

KAI Forged Kitchen Knife 7 Inch

Shun Premier Santoku, Damascus Tsuchime Finish | KAI Forged Kitchen Knife 7 Inch

Now one of the most popular kitchen knife styles in America as well as Japan, the Japanese santoku stepped up several notches in quality with the distinctively beautiful Premier series from KAI Shun Cutlery. From the line that won the Blade Magazine 2010 Kitchen Knife of the Year Award, the ...





Shun Premier Bamboo Knife Block Set

Sharpening Steel, Kitchen Shears, Essential 7 Piece

Shun Premier Bamboo Knife Block Set | Sharpening Steel, Kitchen Shears, Essential 7 Piece

The Shun Premier Essential 7-Piece Block Set includes four of the most popular kitchen knife styles plus a matching sharpening steel, kitchen shears, and a fine bamboo storage block. The awarding-winning Premier series of knives was named Kitchen Knife of the Year for 2010 by Blade Magazine. The ...





Shun Premier Paring Knife

Kitchen Cutlery Award Winner, Hand Forged 4 Inch

Shun Premier Paring Knife | Kitchen Cutlery Award Winner, Hand Forged 4 Inch

If you like hand-forged knives, the Shun Premier 4-Inch Paring Knife will catch your eye and work better than most custom forged knives. Still using the best of Shun's high-tech methods, the Premier series added a hand-hammered tsuchime finish to the blade and won Blade Magazine's award for 2010 Kitchen ...





Shun Higo Nokami Steak Knife, Folding

Japanese Executive Cutlery, Locking Blade w/ Pakkawood

Shun Higo Nokami Steak Knife, Folding | Japanese Executive Cutlery, Locking Blade w/ Pakkawood

The Higo Nokami knife originated in Japan about 150 years ago and probably was the first pocket folder of Japanese design. This elegant knife became popular with Japanese businessmen, who used it for cutting fruit or cheese. Today's Higo Nokami from Shun brings many of the features of ...





Shun Pro Asian Chef’s Knife Set of 3

Laurent Gras Signature, Kitchen Cutlery Gift Collection

Shun Pro Asian Chef’s Knife Set of 3 | Laurent Gras Signature, Kitchen Cutlery Gift Collection

This set of three professional quality Asian chef's knives from the Shun Pro series comes in a velvet-lined wooden presentation case. Each knife bears the etched signature of Chicago Chef Laurent Gras.

The three knives are modern versions of traditional Asian knives but manufactured in 2.5-mm-thick SG-10 ...





Shun Ultimate Steak Knife Box Set of 4

Classic Serrated Damascus Steel w/ Pakkawood Handle

Shun Ultimate Steak Knife Box Set of 4 | Classic Serrated Damascus Steel w/ Pakkawood Handle

With many of the same good features as the DMS 400 plain-edged steak knives from Shun Cutlery, this Classic DMSO420 Steak Knife Set adds serrated blades for even better edge-holding.

Shun's Classic knives transfer easily to the dining table without needing any improvements in appearance. The black ...





Shun Classic Steak Knife Set of 4

Damascus Steel With Gift Storage Box DMS400

Shun Classic Steak Knife Set of 4 | Damascus Steel With Gift Storage Box DMS400

These beautiful knives will draw nearly as much attention as a good steak. The DMS400 Classic 4-Knife Set from Shun Cutlery brings the fine Damascus-like steel and ebony-black pakkawood of Shun kitchen knives to the dinner table.

Shun doesn't need to dress up knives for public use, since ...





Shun Honing Sharpening Steel

Premier 9 Inch w/ Walnut Pakkawood Handle

Shun Honing Sharpening Steel | Premier 9 Inch w/ Walnut Pakkawood Handle

The Shun Premier 9 Inch Honing Steel matches the appearance and quality of the Shun Premier line chosen as Blade Magazine's Kitchen Knife of the Year for 2010. If used carefully, this hone maintains the razor edges of the plain-edged Premier knives, but a good set of waterstones will have ...





Shun Premier Slicing Kitchen Knife, Pakkawood Handle

Best in Blade Magazine By Tim Malzer, 9-1/2 Inch

Shun Premier Slicing Kitchen Knife, Pakkawood Handle | Best in Blade Magazine By Tim Malzer, 9-1/2 Inch

The perfect knife for precision slicing of meat, fruit, and vegetables, the Shun Premier 9-1/2-Inch Slicing Knife fits the practical work of the kitchen and the showmanship of service. The combination of high-tech steel and hand craftsmanship won the Premier series the 2010 Kitchen Knife of the Year Award from ...





Shun Chef’s Knife Of The Year 2010 by Blade Magazine

KAI Premier Damascus 8 Inch TM

Shun Chef’s Knife Of The Year 2010 by Blade Magazine | KAI Premier Damascus 8 Inch TM

From the series voted 2010's Kitchen Knife of the Year by Blade Magazine, the Shun Premier 8 Inch Chef's Knife applies the philosophy of Germany's most popular TV Chef, Tim Malzer, to the best in Japanese cutlery. The Premier TM line from KAI Shun Cutlery brings the ...





Shun Classic Asian Knife Set of 2

Granton Santoku & Paring, VG-10 Cutlery w/ Pakkawood

Shun Classic Asian Knife Set of 2 | Granton Santoku & Paring, VG-10 Cutlery w/ Pakkawood

Adding these two knives to your kitchen lineup could greatly improve the quality of your day. The santoku and paring knife from Shun Cutlery will handle most of the vegetable slicing and prep work you do.

Based in Seki City, Japan, where the best samurai swords were once ...





Shun Electric Kitchen Knife Sharpener, Black AP0119

Asian Cutlery Ceramic 16 Degree Bevel Hone

Shun Electric Kitchen Knife Sharpener, Black AP0119 | Asian Cutlery Ceramic 16 Degree Bevel Hone

A blend of good ideas and disappointing realities, the Shun APO119 Electric Knife Sharpener seems more suited to cheap cutlery than the beautiful and expensive Damascus-type blades of Shun Cutlery. In fact, you'll definitely want to practice on cheaper knives first because as with any old style grinder, there's a ...





Shun Elite Kitchen Knife Block Set of 9

Forged Cutlery w/ Pakkawood Handles In Bamboo Storage

Shun Elite Kitchen Knife Block Set of 9 | Forged Cutlery w/ Pakkawood Handles In Bamboo Storage

The Shun Elite 9-piece block set is a top-quality selection of professional knives which really are beautifully designed. Stylish black pakkawood handles embellished with a samurai crest add to the set's style, but you'll want more than just good looks if you're buying at the top ...





Shun KAI Kershaw Chef’s Kitchen Knife

Forged VG-10 Damascus Stainless Steel, Classic 6 Inch

Shun KAI Kershaw Chef’s Kitchen Knife | Forged VG-10 Damascus Stainless Steel, Classic 6 Inch

With the six-inch Shun/KAI Chef's Knife, expect the slick performance of a santoku but the familiar style of the standard chef's knife. Not just for light slicing, this high quality prep knife from Shun's Classic series has the strength for other work as well.

Forged with 33 layers of high ...





Shun Bamboo Knife Block for Asian Cutlery

Laminated Non Skid 11

Shun Bamboo Knife Block for Asian Cutlery | Laminated Non Skid 11

Designed specifically for Shun's high quality Asian cutlery, the 11-slot bamboo knife block from Shun also accepts a wide range of other brands. With slots wide enough for chef's knives and spaces for a sharpening steel and kitchen shears, the block offers convenient storage for most of the knives ...





Shun Kitchen Knife Block Set, Damascus Steel

Bamboo Classic VG-10 6 Piece

Shun Kitchen Knife Block Set, Damascus Steel | Bamboo Classic VG-10 6 Piece

Shun Cutlery's Classic six-piece knife block set gives home chefs the best foundation knives for kitchen prep plus a full-sized bamboo knife block with plenty of room for expansion. Add the best knives in your current assortment to the block and replace them with even better ones as time ...





Shun Paring Knife, Full Tang VG-10

Damascus Stainless Steel 4 Inch

Shun Paring Knife, Full Tang VG-10 | Damascus Stainless Steel 4 Inch

This four-inch Shun Paring Knife is the all-steel version of one of the best paring knives available today. While the D-shaped handle may seem a little slick to some, it completely eliminates worries about crevices where bacteria could hide and gives the knife an unmistakably clean look. The four-inch blade ...





Shun Damascus Steel Bamboo Knife Block Set

Forged Chef’s Classic 8 Piece

Shun Damascus Steel Bamboo Knife Block Set | Forged Chef’s Classic 8 Piece

This eight-piece bamboo block set from Shun offers knives from the Shun Classic series, with the focus on chef's knives rather than santoku. If you prefer the traditional European cook's knife style but also want the superior steel and cutting ability of Shun's Damascus blades, this set was designed ...





Shun Kitchen Presentation Paring Knife

Fruit Carving Birds Beak 2 1/2 Inch

Shun Kitchen Presentation Paring Knife | Fruit Carving Birds Beak 2 1/2 Inch

The Birds Beak Paring Knife from Shun handles difficult tasks many chefs don't find essential. If your cooking includes sculpted fruits and vegetables, exotics like Bride's Tears potatoes, or even the common ginger root, you'll find the Shun Birds Beak Paring Knife very handy.

Peelers are built for straight and ...





Shun Carving Knife & Meat Fork Serving Set, Damascus Steel

Classic 2 Piece in Gift Box

Shun Carving Knife & Meat Fork Serving Set, Damascus Steel | Classic 2 Piece in Gift Box

Shun Cutlery's Classic Carving Set brings that company's famous VG-10 Damascus style stainless steel to the dinner service. The look is the same as that of Shun's other chef's knives, with an elegant and simple ebony-style pakkawood handle and a forged stainless steel blade.

Both knife and fork provide ...





Shun Classic Knives Boxed Gift Set

3 Piece Damascus VG-10 Steel | DMS300

Shun Classic Knives Boxed Gift Set | 3 Piece Damascus VG-10 Steel | DMS300

The three Damascus-type VG-10 steel blades in this Shun Classic Gift Box Set may cause you to put aside the knives you've owned and loved for years. Other companies make good knives, but these good knives have a difference you can feel at work. The 8-inch chef's knife, ...





Shun Classic Bamboo Knife Block Set

Asian Damascus Steel Cutlery 7 Piece

Shun Classic Bamboo Knife Block Set | Asian Damascus Steel Cutlery 7 Piece

The four knives in this Shun Classic 7-Piece Bamboo Block Asian Knife set all feature the Damascus style steel that gives Shun's VG-10 blades their superior edge-holding ability and strength. A central VG-10 layer forms the cutting edge and is hardened to Rockwell 61 -- excellent for sharpness, but ...





Shun Utility Knife

Offset Damascus VG-10 | Ken Onion

Shun Utility Knife | Offset Damascus VG-10 | Ken Onion

If you can get past the non-traditional aesthetic, there's actually a lot to like about this Ken Onion design from Shun.

The handle is appreciably beefy for a small knife, a touch which I find particularly appealing as most smaller Japanese knives have handles which feel undersized in my hands. The modified ...





Best Carving Knife

Shun Damascus VG-10 Stainless Steel 8 Inch

Best Carving Knife | Shun Damascus VG-10 Stainless Steel 8 Inch

In my experience, I've found little use for the traditional "carving knife". In my view it's a specialty knife. I generally prefer to use knives which are a bit more utilitarian.

Traditionally, the carving knife is most often seen around the holidays when turkeys, hams, and roasts grace most tables, and is ...





Kai USA Shun Classic Vegetable Cleaver

VG-10 Damascus Stainless Steel

Kai USA Shun Classic Vegetable Cleaver | VG-10 Damascus Stainless Steel

Not to be confused with the butcher's cleaver well known in European kitchens, this Vegetable Cleaver from Shun's Classic series is the Asian general purpose equivalent of the western cook's knife. With the superior edge and Damascus stainless steel of the Classic line, this knife is one of ...





Shun Pro Deba Slicing Knife

Japanese Cutlery | VG-10 Damascus 6 1/2 Inch

Shun Pro Deba Slicing Knife | Japanese Cutlery | VG-10 Damascus 6 1/2 Inch

Primarily used for de-boning and slicing raw or cooked meat, fish, and poultry, the Shun Pro Deba knife with a 6 1/2" plain edge is one of the fundamental blades of the Japanese kitchen, dating back to the Edo period in the city of Sakai. Once famous for fine ...





Shun Ken Onion Japanese Chef’s Knife

VG-10 Damascus Full Tang

Shun Ken Onion Japanese Chef’s Knife | VG-10 Damascus Full Tang

Made to Shun's exacting standards with the same materials as their Classic series, this 4 3/8" Chef's Knife follows a design by famous American knife maker Ken Onion. This beautiful knife makes a practical addition to any cutlery set, with features suitable for collectors.

The curved full tang handle ...





Kai USA Shun Classic Boning Filet Knife

Japanese VG-10 Damascus 6 Inch

Kai USA Shun Classic Boning Filet Knife | Japanese VG-10 Damascus 6 Inch

A part of the Shun Classic series, this boning knife is forged in Shun's famous Damascus stainless steel, but with a profile slim enough to give this blade the slight flexibility you need for boning and filleting meat, poultry, and seafood.

The build is the same one used for ...





Shun Pro Nakiri Chef’s Knife

Japanese Full Tang Kitchen Cutlery

Shun Pro Nakiri Chef’s Knife | Japanese Full Tang Kitchen Cutlery

Japanese blades of all kinds, from swords to carpentry tools, are so refined that to many Westerners the subtle features go unnoticed. The Nakiri vegetable knife is a fine example of a craft so skilled it may cause you to rethink the basics and become a better chef.

At first ...





Shun Classic U2 (Ultimate Utility) Damascus Knife

Sandwich Spatula Blade

Shun Classic U2 (Ultimate Utility) Damascus Knife | Sandwich Spatula Blade

Seki, Japan, where the Shun Classic Ultimate Utility (U2) is manufactured, has a long history as a center of Samurai sword production. Many of the old techniques that produced these legendary military blades have now been transferred to high quality cutlery such as the U2.

For the best katana, sword makers used ...





Best Knife Block: Shun Bamboo 22-Slot Cutlery Holder / Storage

Best Knife Block: Shun Bamboo 22-Slot Cutlery Holder / Storage

Since Shun knives are so well known for their quality and traditional craftsmanship, you shouldn't expect anything less from their storage block -- a product designed to store them carefully and keep them sharp for their next use. Fortunately, that's what it does.

Your entire cutlery collection will fit in this ...





Shun Classic Utility Knife

Japanese Slicing Knife

Shun Classic Utility Knife | Japanese Slicing Knife

If you were to refer to this in the proper Japanese terminology, this would be called a petty, which evolved from the term "petit gyutou" or "little cow sword".

Regardless of how you refer to this little knife, it's an excellent knife. Typical of knives from Shun, it is a blend ...





Best Paring Knife Review

Shun Classic 3 Inch

Best Paring Knife Review | Shun Classic 3 Inch

If you're going to spend decent money on a knife, make sure it's one that you'll use frequently, feels comfortable in your hand and is made of premium materials.

This Shun Classic Paring knife earns our recommendation as the "Best Paring Knife" by fulfilling those three criteria.

For starters, any paring ...





Best Santoku Knife: Kershaw Shun Classic

Hollow Ground or Plain Edge

Best Santoku Knife: Kershaw Shun Classic | Hollow Ground or Plain Edge

We named Shun Classic Knives our best $500 kitchen knives a while back, and for good reason.

Shun took kitchen cutlery to the next level when they introduced their Classic series a few years back. The Classics feature a VG-10 Japanese "super steel" that is incredibly hard and, as a result, ...





Shun Combination Whetstone

Japanese Waterstone for Sharpening | 300 and 1000 Grit

Shun Combination Whetstone | Japanese Waterstone for Sharpening | 300 and 1000 Grit

Many amateur chef's are intimidated by knife sharpening. While unafraid to tackle a dinner party for twelve, they've been told that knife sharpening should be done by a professional.

And yet, sharpening doesn't have to be scary. It requires some time, some practice, and some attention to detail but, as a devout cook, ...





Shun Classic Chinese Chef’s Knife

Cleaver For Meat or Veggies | 7-3/4-Inch Damascus Blade

Shun Classic Chinese Chef’s Knife | Cleaver For Meat or Veggies | 7-3/4-Inch Damascus Blade

For many Chinese chef's, this type is not just an essential knife, but rather the single most essential knife in the kitchen.

Some will quibble and say that this is a Chef's knife and technically not a cleaver, but what's in a name? If you can use it to hack through ...





Shun Classic Knives

7-Piece Knife Block Set | Best $500 Kitchen Knives

Shun Classic Knives | 7-Piece Knife Block Set | Best $500 Kitchen Knives

Shun knives are by no means budget knives. Some consider them synonymous with "expensive". But limit yourself to a small set of essential knives and you'll actually find them worth every penny.

Why? Because Shun has also become synonymous with "quality". All three of the major US cutlery retailers -- Williams Sonoma, Sur La ...





Ken Onion Chef’s Knife

8-Inch Shun Kitchen Knife Review

Ken Onion Chef’s Knife | 8-Inch Shun Kitchen Knife Review

You may know that Shun and Kershaw brands are both owned by the same company. You may also know that Ken Onion is one of the most successful designer of Kershaw knives, winning numerous industry awards throughout his career.

So what happens when a premium kitchen knife maker asks a ...





Shun Elite Santoku Knife Review

7 Inch Japanese Stainless Steel Blade

Shun Elite Santoku Knife Review | 7 Inch Japanese Stainless Steel Blade

This is the top of the line for Shun.

Their Shun Classic Knives are excellent, lower-priced knives.

What this knife has over the Classic knife is the steel. It's a powdered SG-2 steel, which is pretty much the highest-end steel you're going to find in a kitchen knife.

The Shun Elites are handcrafted in ...





Shun Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

High-Carbon Steel Damascus Blade | Cutlery Review

Shun Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife | High-Carbon Steel Damascus Blade | Cutlery Review

The Shun Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife is a great example of the high-end ultra-sharp Japanese knives that are now all the rage.

It is made from premium VG-10 steel -- a high-carbon, molybdenum and vanadium blend which is known for its extreme sharpness. The blade is hardened to a Rockwell hardness of ...





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