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, 6-inch utility knife, and 3-1/2-inch paring knife could take over your kitchen.
Not too many years ago, layered damascus steel was the stuff of legends, and few craftsmen actually attempted that process. Shun brought modern techniques to the art and transferred some of the legendary quality of fine samurai swords to chef’s cutlery. Though it’s not exactly the same technique, Shun’s manufacturing system yields many of the same strengths. Sixteen layers of high tensile strength tool steel form each side of the blade, sandwiching a thin central core of hard VG-10 steel. Without the tool steel support, the edge would shatter, but the combination yields a thin edge that cuts with very little resistance and seems to fall through the work. The knives seldom need sharpening in ordinary, everyday use.
Shun’s knives do require some changes in technique. The knives won’t fare well if used on glass cutting boards or if used to chop bones and other hard objects. Edges of VG-10 tend to chip rather than fold. The steel is also too hard for resetting with a honing steel. Shun offers several grades of sharpening stones designed for maintaining the knives.
Pakkawood handles look simplistic, but the flattened sides of the round grips orient fingers correctly with the blades and allow the fine control needed for shaving thin, perfect slices of vegetables and meats. Handles of pakkawood resist chemicals and heat — the layers of real hardwood bonded with resin have the look of dark wood grain without the problems of real wood.