How to Sharpen a Shun Knife

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Certain knives need to be sharpened in a certain way or else you risk wearing them down or damaging them. At the very worst, you might end up with a knife you can accidentally break or snap apart into two because you’ve been sharpening them wrong. At best, you can end up with a not-so-sharp knife that works only partway as efficiently as when you first bought it.

Let this article teach you how to sharpen a shun knife as well as know what this brand of knife brings to the table. Before anything else, let’s learn what a Shun knife is in the first place.

What Is a Shun Knife?

What Is a Shun Knife

The Shun knife is part of the Shun Cutlery line and brand made by the KAI or Kai Group, which in turn has its headquarters located in Tokyo, Japan. As for the United States of America, the Shun brand is made available by Kai USA, which is headquartered in Tualatin, Oregon. It’s one of many other knife brands that Kai offers such as the Zero Tolerance Knives and the Kershaw Knives. The KAI Group traces its origins all the way back to 1908. This was when its founder—Saijiro Endo—established the company in Japan’s Seki City.

The KAI Group produced various cutlery types and brands throughout the 20th Century. They specifically forged and sold commercially kitchen cutlery, razors, and folding knives, just to name a few. Fast forward to 2002, and KAI introduced to the Western Market the Shun cutlery brand and the Shun knife that’s the subject of this article for today. All of the Kai Group’s Shun knives are manufactured in Seki City, the city where it all started, then distributed across 30 countries, including America or the U.S.A.


How Do You Sharpen a Shun Knife?

How to Sharpen a Shun Knife

There’s a special way to go about sharpening your Shun knife. You should specifically do the following instructions.

1. Honing the Knife with the Honing Steel

First off, place the tip of your knife on your chopping board while holding the honing steel in a vertical position. Afterwards, start at the steel’s heel and the topmost portion then draw the knife down for honing. Run it along the heel of the knife to the tip. Repeat this at the top of the honing steel with your knife before running the blade in downward motions at about a 16° angle.

2. Make Sure to Do Alternate Sides

Many first time knife sharpeners tend to only sharpen one side of the knife and end up neglecting the other side. Don’t do this. Instead, make sure you repeat the steel honing technique on alternate sides if you have a double-beveled blade in order to hone its entire length. After you’ve honed the knife properly then that’s when you can use warm water in order to wash off the steel bits before drying them thoroughly afterwards to prevent rusting.

3. Which Whetstone Grit Is Best?

The best grit for your whetstone when it comes to sharpening the Shun knife is around 300 grit or so. This removes the material quickly and can even be used for chip or imperfection repair. You can also go with a medium grit whetstone that has 1,000 to 1,500 grit. They’re good for sharpening dull knives that aren’t severely chipped or cracked by their edge. You can polish your blade to a mirror finish by using a very fine whetstone of about 4,000 to 6,000 grit.

4. Soaking The Whetstone

Soak the whetstone for about 10 minutes before use. Thereafter, place the stone on a surface that’s slip-free or has a good grip so that when you’re sharpening your blade on it, it won’t slip and ruin your efforts when push comes to shove. You can prevent slippage by putting a towel underneath it as well as any other water-absorbent material. As you go about grinding your knife, don’t forget to keep the stone slightly wet at all times. Dribble some water on the whetstone from time to time.

5. Sharpening The Ground Side

When sharpening a single-bevel Shun blade like Kai Wasabi, you need to place the whetstone ground-side first. Check to ensure you’re using the angle recommended for sharpening, which is usually 16°. Grind the knife at the angle, moving the blade with light pressure towards and away from your body. Keep going at it with the grinding and sharpening until you can feel a fine burr form along the knife.

6. Sharpening The Hollow-Ground Side

After you’ve sharpened the ground side of the knife, turn the knife over and repeat the sharpening and grinding process at the correct angle on the hollow-ground side. As for burr removal that formed due to sharpening, place a newspaper or scratch paper on the flat surface and hold the knife at a similar angle used for whetstone sharpening. From there, swipe the blade sideways across the paper. After the burr is gone, you should end up with a smooth edge along your blade.

7. Sharpening with a Whetstone or Sharpener

Aside from the honing steel, you can use a whetstone to sharpen these blades. It’s in fact recommended that you use a whetstone since it’s more dependable and beginner-friendly. Otherwise, get what’s known as the Kai Electric Sharpener. This sharpener is also intuitive for inexperienced users because it’s precision-engineered to sharpen the 16° blade angle of the Shun knife. Some owners have difficulty sharpening or honing at that specific angle.


Did you enjoy our tutorial? Please comment below your thoughts and feedback. With that in mind, sharpening your Shun knife couldn’t be easier with a honing knife, whetstone, and sharpener as long as you follow the instructions contained in this article. Also remember that the 16° blade angle refers to only one kind of Shun knife.

Other types might have other blade angles. Check the manual for more details. When all else fails, you can always send the knife to a pro sharpener. After sharpening your Shun knife carefully, don’t forget to wash, dry, and store your knife at a safe location.

Read more:

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