How To Sharpen Shun Knives

Shun knives are high quality Japanese knives. Sharp, light, and easy to use for quick and delicate preparation techniques.

Where Are Shun Knives Made?

Shun knives are produced in one of Japan’s traditional samurai sword-making centres, in the city of Seki.

In America Shun knives are made by Kai USA Ltd. This is a US-based company which is part of the Japanese-run Kai Group.

How Are Shun Knives Made?

The Shun Classic range is crafted using 36 layers of Damascus steel on a hard VG-MAX steel core.

The blade is ground and bead-blasted to get an exquisitely sharp edge and great flowing pattern.

The Pakkawood D-shaped handles are similar to the traditional Japanese style. The composite material is strong and largely waterproof.

Some ranges of Shun knives are made using a hard steel core protected by a softer steel jacket, which also allows the blade to be sharpened to a high degree.

The Kasumi and San Mai styles use this method. The Honyaki style forges the blade from a single piece of steel.

Minimising Unnecessary Wear On Your Shun Knife’s Blade

After use, clean under running water and dry with a soft cloth.

Never put your Shun knife in a dishwasher.

Never cut on glass or granite cutting boards.

Ensure the blade doesn’t strike hard materials.

Knives with natural wood handles mustn’t remain in water too long.

Oil the handle with neutral vegetable oil.

Store such that its edge isn’t in contact with other metallic objects.


Honing realigns microscopic shards of metal that are knocked off-centre through use. Honing extends the period between sharpening.

How To Hone Your Shun Knife

Hold a honing steel vertically, with tip on a chopping board.

At the top of the steel, draw the knife down the steel, from the knife heel to the tip.

Run your knife in downward motions at about a 16° angle.

Do alternate sides for a double-bevelled blade.

Wash with warm water and dry.

For more information on how to hone a blade, click here.



Sharpening a knife involves removing some of its substance so only sharpen your Shun knife when necessary.

Kai, the manufacturer of the Shun knife range, recommends sharpening Shun knives in one of three ways:

Using a whetstone.

Using a tabletop sharpener.

Sending the knife away to be sharpened professionally.

Sharpening A Shun Knife Using A Whetstone

Shun Combination Whetstone is recommended.

Coarse grit whetstones remove material quickly. They are best for repairing chips or imperfections.

Medium grit whetstones will sharpen most knives with slightly blunt blades.

Fine to very fine whetstones finish and polish a blade to a fine finish.

Soak the whetstone in water for about 10 minutes before using it.

Place the whetstone on a slip free surface.

Place a towel under the whetstone to prevent slipping and absorb excess water.

Ensure the stone is slightly wet during the grinding process by dribbling water on the surface.

Double Bevelled Blades: Shun Classic And Premier

Grind the knife with a 15° angle to the whetstone.

Move the blade with light pressure toward and away from your body.

Repeat proportionally on all parts of the blade until you can feel a fine burr.

Single Bevel Blades: Kai Wasabi

Put the ground side on the whetstone at the recommended angle.

With the knife at a 45° angle to the whetstone, commence grinding.

Move the blade with light pressure away from and toward your body.

Repeat till you feel a fine burr.

Once the ground side is done, turn the knife and repeat the process on the hollow-ground side but less often (1/10 will do).

To remove the burr, place a piece of newspaper on a flat surface.

Hold the knife at a similar angle to that used on the whetstone.

Swipe the blade sideways left and right across the newspaper till you have a smooth edge along the blade.

Wash, dry, and safely store your knife.

For more information on how to hone a blade, click here.

Sharpening A Shun Knife Using A Tabletop Sharpener

The Kai electric sharpener is specifically designed with Shun’s 16° blade angle in mind.

Some Shun knives are single bevelled and therefore should not be sharpened using a table top sharpener.

Place the tabletop sharpener on a flat surface.

Insert the edge of the blade into the sharpener at the end nearest the handle. If the sharpener has two or more stages, or levels of coarseness use the roughest stage first.

Evenly pull the knife towards you. Applying enough pressure to feel the grinding effect on the blade. Don’t push down too hard.

Run the full length of the blade through the sharpener, right to the tip.

Repeat four or five times, only pulling the knife through. Don’t push. Lift the blade out after each stroke and place back into the starting position for the next pull.

For sharpeners with two or more stages, repeat the process through the finer grades in order to polish and refine the edge.

Once the process is complete, wipe the blade clean of any metallic filings.

The process for an electric tabletop sharpener is the same as above but less pressure is necessary because the motor does the work.

Getting Your Shun Knife Professionally Sharpened

You can get Shun and Kai sharpening and warranty service so that Shun will sharpen your Shun knife for free.

Shun sharpens your Shun knife on their Japanese Hiramae, which is similar to the large, horizontal sharpening wheel which was used to put the original edge on your knife in Japan.

Complete Shun’s Warranty Form.

If you live in the Tualatin, Oregon area, you can bring up to two Shun knives in person for sharpening as you wait.

You can send your Shun knife to other professional knife sharpeners if you wish.


A well-sharpened Shun knife will work faster, give better control, create less damage to food and is safer, because you need less pressure and less pressure used means less knife slippage.

George Alexander
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