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Use & Care

Caring for Your Cutlery

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 technique

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. The only exception is when using Shun cleaver blades, which can be chopped with.

Please do not use Shun knives on bones, joints, or frozen foods. Shun knives are designed for precision slicing rather than crushing down through hard materials.

When your kitchen tasks call for cutting through hard foods, such as winter squash or produce with thicker, tougher rinds, like pineapple or watermelon, we recommend using the Shun Classic Western Cook’s Knife. This knife has been sharpened to a slightly wider angle, 22° on each side, to take on these heavier, harder foods. When cutting hard foods like these, you may find that the knife sticks in the food on occasion. If this happens, don’t twist the knife to the side to free it; that could damage the blade. Instead, lift the knife straight up and continue cutting. A handy tip for cutting hard vegetables, such as squash, is to heat the vegetable in the microwave briefly to soften it slightly before cutting. 

Cutting surface

The cutting surface you use makes a big difference in keeping your knives sharp. A good cutting board will help retain a sharp edge substantially longer. Medium-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 Chef's knife slicing carrotsShun Chef's knife slicing carrots

Washing & drying

It is important to protect your investment by hand washing your knives with gentle dish soap. Do not use soaps with citrus extracts or bleach; they can promote rust. Hold the knife flat against the back wall of the sink. Gently wash the exposed side with warm, soapy water. Turn the knife over and repeat. Rinse and towel dry immediately. Do not leave your knife sitting in a sink full of soapy water. It is hard on metals to be submerged in water for prolonged periods, and it’s a danger when you reach in.

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.

After handwashing your Shun knives, dry them immediately using a soft and absorbent dishtowel. Leaving water or any dampness on your knives can cause rusting. A thorough drying will help maintain your knives properly. Allowing them to air dry for a little while before storing helps, too.

Storage

It is best to store your Shun cutlery in a wooden block, in-drawer knife tray, sheath, or knife case. Do not store your knives unsheathed in a drawer.

Washing Shun SantokuWashing Shun Santoku

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.

Detail Shun Dual Core YanagibaDetail Shun Dual Core Yanagiba