Mastering the Art of Sharpening Shun Knives

How to Sharpen Shun Knives: A Comprehensive Guide

Known for their exceptional quality and craftsmanship, Shun knives are highly sought after by professional chefs and cooking enthusiasts alike. These Japanese blades are designed to last a lifetime, but over time, even the best knives can become dull. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to effectively sharpen your Shun knives to ensure they remain sharp for years to come.

Understanding Shun Knives

Shun knives are deeply rooted in the tradition of Japanese knifemaking, incorporating centuries-old practices to create blades of the highest quality. Constructed with premium materials and meticulously crafted, these knives offer a distinct advantage over other types of blades. While Shun knives are known for their ability to retain their edge, they can become dull with regular use.

Why Sharpen Shun Knives?

Regardless of the quality of the blade, all knives are subject to wear and tear with repeated use. Factors such as improper storage or use on particularly hard food can contribute to a knife losing its sharpness. Regular sharpening of your Shun knives is necessary to restore their original edge and optimize their performance.

Sharpening Shun knives at home

Sharpening your Shun knives at home is a relatively simple process that can be accomplished with a few essential tools. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you sharpen your knives effectively:

What you’ll need

To sharpen your Shun knives, gather the following tools:

  1. A quality sharpening stone: Make sure the width of the stone is at least as wide as the knife to ensure full contact and avoid awkward angles.
  2. A dry towel: Use this to wipe down the blade during the sharpening process.
  3. A few newspapers: These will be used to remove any remaining burr from the blade.

The sharpening process

Follow these steps to sharpen your Shun knives at home:

  1. Soak the whetstone in water for a few minutes to hydrate it. This will improve the contact between the blade and the stone and reduce friction.
  2. Place the whetstone on a flat surface and make sure it doesn’t move during the sharpening process.
  3. Divide the knife into three sections: heel, center and tip. Sharpen one side of the blade at a time.
  4. Position the blade at a 16- or 20-degree angle. You can use your little finger to set the angle by sliding it along the back of the blade until the back of the blade touches your finger. Remove your finger when the angle is set.
  5. Grasp the handle near the heel of the knife and place your index finger on the spine for better support. Use your thumb to gently push down on the blade.
  6. With the angle and position correct, move the heel of the blade across the whetstone in a sawing motion. Apply light pressure and repeat the back and forth motion.
  7. After a few strokes, you will notice a burr forming on the edge of the blade, indicating that it is sharpening effectively. Move the blade down to the center section and repeat the sharpening process.
  8. Once you have sharpened the heel and mid-section, proceed to sharpen the tip. Adjust the angle of the handle as necessary to achieve the desired angle for effective tip sharpening.
  9. When one side of the blade is sharpened, wipe the blade with a towel to remove any excess burr.
  10. Flip the knife over and repeat the angling strategy on the other side of the blade. Follow the same steps as above to sharpen the opposite side.
  11. When the blade is sharpened, rinse it and dry it with a towel. To remove any remaining burr, gently run the blade over a few newspapers at a slight angle.
  12. Inspect the edge of the blade by gently rolling your finger over it. If you see a burr, repeat the newspaper step. If the knife is sharp, wash it and store it properly.

Caring for your sharpened Shun knife

Maintaining the sharpness of your Shun knife is essential for its long-term performance. Here are some tips to help you care for your sharpened knife:

  1. When not in use, keep the blade wrapped or stored in a knife sheath or wooden knife holder. This will protect the blade from nicks and dings and ensure safe storage.
  2. Avoid storing the knife loosely in a drawer as this can be dangerous and cause the blade to wear quickly from contact with other cutlery.
  3. Sharpen the knife only when necessary, as over-sharpening can cause the blade to chip. Test the sharpness of the knife by slicing food to determine if the knife maintains its optimal cutting performance.
  4. Carefully clean the knife after each use. Hand wash with mild soap and warm water, then dry thoroughly to prevent moisture build-up that can cause rusting.
  5. Avoid using the knife on hard surfaces such as glass or ceramic, as this can dull the blade quickly. Choose a wooden or plastic cutting board to keep the knife sharp.
  6. To maintain the edge between sharpenings, sharpen the knife regularly with a sharpening rod. This process helps realign the blade and keeps it sharp longer.
  7. If you’re unsure about sharpening your Shun knife at home or prefer professional assistance, consider taking it to a reputable knife sharpening service. They can ensure a precise and consistent sharpening result.


Sharpening your Shun knives is an essential skill to ensure their longevity and optimal performance. By following the step-by-step instructions in this article, you can confidently sharpen your knives at home, restoring their original sharpness and maintaining them for years to come. Remember to handle the knives with care, practice proper knife care, and enjoy the pleasure of working with a finely sharpened Shun knife in your culinary endeavors.


How often should I sharpen my Shun knives?

The frequency of sharpening depends on how often you use your knives. As a general guideline, it is recommended to sharpen your Shun knives every 6-12 months or whenever you notice a decrease in cutting performance.

Can I use an electric sharpener on my Shun knives?

It is not recommended to use a power sharpener on Shun knives. These knives are best sharpened using a whetstone, as this allows for more precise control over the sharpening process and minimizes the risk of damaging the blade.

How can I tell if my Shun knife is sharp enough?

You can test the sharpness of your Shun knife by gently cutting through a piece of paper or a soft tomato. If the knife glides through with minimal resistance and makes clean cuts, it is considered sharp. If it struggles or tears the paper or tomato, it may need sharpening.

Can I sharpen my Shun knives without any experience?

Yes, you can sharpen your Shun knives at home, even if you have no previous experience. By following the step-by-step instructions and practicing proper technique, you can achieve excellent results. However, if you feel unsure or prefer professional assistance, you can seek the help of a reputable knife sharpening service.

How long does it take to sharpen a Shun knife?

The time required to sharpen a Shun knife can vary depending on the condition of the blade and your sharpening skills. On average, it can take 10-20 minutes to properly sharpen a Shun knife. With practice, you may be able to complete the process more quickly.

How do I maintain the sharpness of my Shun knife after sharpening?

To maintain the sharpness of your Shun knife, it is important to handle it with care and practice proper maintenance. Avoid using the knife on hard surfaces, sharpen the blade regularly with a sharpening rod, clean and dry the knife after each use, and store it securely in a knife sheath or holder. These practices will help preserve the sharpness of your Shun knife for a longer period of time.