So Upset w/ Shun Chef's Chipping

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by lchelak, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. lchelak

    lchelak

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    I was estatic when I received my first "real" chef's knife for my birthday this past October. I have always balked at home kitchens with terrible knives, and remember seeing my father test the razor sharp edges of his knives since I was a little girl. 

    So you can imagine my absolute horror and sadness when I picked up my Shun, 8.5" Fuji Chef's knife after cutting a squash (as I've done many times before this autumn season) and found two hole-punched style missing pieces! They're nearly identical in size, about 3 inches apart, and 1/4 inch in diameter! Huge!

    I've cared for this knife like a baby since I've received it! I immediately wash and dry it. It has it's own magnetic strip in my kitchen which I'm always careful to place against it back end first so as not to tap the blade. I've never used it on bone. I have a nice, OXO large plastic chopping board. 

    I don't know what to do :( I've done some basic research and have found that there can be bad batches, improperly tempered steel, etc... but all I know is that I'm out a really sharp knife and I hate squash now. 

    For reference, this is the exact knife purchased. It was from W&S. http://www.williams-sonoma.com/prod...oma&srccode=cii_17588969&cpncode=35-5118816-2

    I absolutely loved the weight and feel of this knife. It fit in my hand perfectly. I'm just so disapointed with these results and am considering going another Japanese knife route. Should I go to W&S and try to return it or refund it? I'm almost certain I should go with a new brand.

    Thank you very much for any help or insight into this. 
     
  2. jbroida

    jbroida

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    actually, most of these problems are caused by user error.  Japanese knives (even shun, which many knife enthusiasts dont really consider "real" japanese knives) are thinner and harder than their western counterparts.  This means better cutting performance and better edge retention, but it also means the edge is more brittle (especially the shun knives as they picked steels that are more on the brittle side for some reason).  So, the same technique you used with your previous knives will often cause damage to these knives.  Twisting is bad, excessive pressure is bad, etc.  Especially with hard items like squash, any kind of twisting can be a real problem.

    This can be fixed through sharpening (and angle adjustments and/or the use of a microbevel) to help toughen up the edge.
     
  3. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    I'd be upset too.  Suggest you take it back and play dumb: "It broke.  That's not what I expected from a fine product sold by a company as reputable as W&S.  Gee... I'm disappointed.  What can you do for me?"  Whatever you do, don't blame them or blame bad steel or tell them that you chopped on a squash.  I bought a Shun from W&S (mailorder) and the blade looked bent.  I took it back and they replaced it with identical product with no quesitons asked.

    But let me tell you this... I don't break down hard squash with any Shun except maybe my Nikiri... they are too light for that.  I prefer using a heavy German blade for that kind of chore.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2012
  4. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    p.s.  I hope you trashed the squash.  Biting down or swollowing a piece of that fine Japanese steel could be fatal.
     
  5. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Jon's right.  In addition...

    Quality control is something Shun does very well.  Nevertheless, sometimes a bad knife gets through and your knife may have been one of those.

    Your knife is made with a high tech "metallurgical powder" alloy called SG2, which is held between softer layers of stainless steel.  SG2 is a very strong steel, but not terribly tough.  As a result it's somewhat but not hugely chip prone.  SG2 is one of Shun's primary alloys, the other is VG-10.  If it's any comfort to you, Shun's VG-10 knives tend to be even more chippy than their SG2s.  

    Chipping isn't necessarily a product of hitting something hard, but can be caused by cutting through tough, fibrous foods as well. 

    Whether SG2 or VG-10, Shun knives with "OOTB" (out of the box aka directly from the factory) edges tend to be more chip prone than those which have been sharpened by the customer.  Finer edges tend to be less chippy than toothy. Strong alloys which aren't particularly tough (like SG2 and VG-10) break more easily if they're frequently steeled, especially if they're steeled aggressively, and/or steeled on an aggressive hone. 

    Your best bet is probably exchanging your Shun knife for something betterBut "better" is a relative term and you seem to like a lot about that knife.  You may want to try another Shun Fuji before giving up.   

    In terms of "better" than the Shun Fuji:

    The Fuji is a very expensive knife, and there are a great number of really good choices for the same or significantly less money.  Let's talk about what would suit you to a "T." 

    Bottom Line:

    It's very important to remember that sharpening is pretty much everything.  All knives get dull, and any dull knife -- no matter how good otherwise, how expensive, how comfortable, how attractive -- is a dull knife.

    BDL

    PS.  Jon sells knives through his store, Japanese Knife Imports (JKI) -- and as he's someone who cares so much about putting the right knife in someone's hand and knows so much about knives I can only imagine him squirming as he thought about you and the Fuji.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2012
  6. jbroida

    jbroida

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    actually, thinner lighter knives cut hard foods better (much better) than thicker heavier blades... they just require you to have better technique
     
  7. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Sure.. Could be bad technique on my part, or it could be just my preference.  :)

    By the way, do you have a walk-in showroom?  I'm just up the road from you and would like to meet you if you are there around lunchtime on weekdays.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2012
  8. knifesavers

    knifesavers

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    Showroom is a bit understated.  Jon has a Japanese knife porn parlor. :)

    Be careful parking around there the ticket writers are quick.

    Jim
     
  9. Iceman

    Iceman

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    I've never lost an argument w/ a squash.   Pansys. 

     
  10. jbroida

    jbroida

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    lol... clearly i have the wrong approach here ;)
     
  11. franzb69

    franzb69

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    might also be due to the chopping / cutting surfaced that's used. the best kind for knives are end grain wood boards. softer on knives than plastic boards. might help.
     
  12. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    A good board is an important part of knife maintenance, and a good end-grain board is the best of the best. 

    But some squash are notoriously difficult, and the description of this particular damage doesn't indicate impact with the board.  It seems more likely that  something -- in this case, the hard and fibrous squash skin and/or the fibers of the squash interior -- "grabbed" microscopic teeth along the edge and held strongly enough to rip them off the edge while the knife was "sawed" back and forth and/or torqued. 

    Almost everyone who encounters something tough tends to saw; and almost everyone who hasn't developed a good grip and/or forgets to let sharpness take the place of power torques. 

    BDL
     
  13. duckfat

    duckfat

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    As long as you have perfect technique. Short of that thinner, harder knives on items like hard squash are problematic for many. Personally I think the whole notion of thinner is better is  flawed for hard items like squash. One inadvertent slip of the wrist from even the most skilled user can mean a lot of time on the stones. There's a lot of wiggle room in the knife world between thin and hard or thick and heavy. I keep my lasers away from squash. I just don't see the need. Besides cleavers laugh at squash.....Mwahahaha.

    Plastic boards just make me cringe.

    Dave
     
  14. jbroida

    jbroida

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    i dont know about that... my technique is far from perfect now that i am no longer cooking professionally and i still use a thinned out suisin inox honyaki on hard foods because it makes my life easier
     
  15. rick alan

    rick alan

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    While we're on the subject of "good" boards, what does that constitute? My significant other is very particular about appearences and so far has only permited me to buy one of those "checkerboard" pattern walnut and oak/maple/cherry,anything-else boards. Do they qualify as good, and what is the best wood(s)?  I saw a teakwood board that was only 0.8" thick that would be nice and light, but I fear it wood easily split, wood that actually be the case?  I definitely want to get rid of the pebble-finish poly board as I hear pinging noises when my knife twists just every so slightly on it. 
     
  16. duckfat

    duckfat

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     I think this whole notion of thinner is "better" really came at the peak of the laser craze. That trend  seems to be dwindling rapidly as many have realized those thin blades are not always practical nor are they they easiest to maintain for many.  A user with a hard "chopping" board  is very likely going to benefit from a thicker, heavier blade IMO. Thin blades require solid technique in a professional setting or at home.

    Dave
     
  17. duckfat

    duckfat

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    Wood. Maple is the universal standard. End grain is best. I'd avoid teak. A good board should be 2"-3" thick. The pebble finish poly bords (especially the hard clear ones) should be tossed. Probably any wood board would be better than that.

    Dave
     
  18. jbroida

    jbroida

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    i agree with you for the most part...  but on harder and/or taller items its really just physics more than anything else
     
  19. duckfat

    duckfat

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    I agree jon and probably a good measure of personal preference factors in here as well. This topic had me thinking about a photo I have buried here some place of the loading dock of a local restaurant buried under about 5 tons of Blue Hubbards. Just looking at that pile is enough to make me cringe...LOL

    Dave
     
  20. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Being short(er) in stature I often have a problem with physics given the standard height of counters, plus the height of cutting board, plus the height of the item being hacked.  Leverage is hard to gain sometimes and i'm too proud to use a step-stool.