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Shun vs. Wüsthof: We Decide Between German and Japanese Engineering

Having a set of dependable knives is essential when you want to hone your cooking skills.  Knives serve as an extension of your arm.  When you cook, you’ll be using your knives on a daily basis, so it makes sense to invest in them wisely.  There are a number of great options when looking for the right knife manufacturer for any kitchen knife set or set of Chef’s knives.

Two of our favorites happen to be the Japanese knife maker Shun, and German manufacturer Wüsthof.  Let’s break down the differences between the two, and which manufacturer we like best.

For you to know if that’s the right knife for you, here are some points to consider before making a purchase.


Weight. Knives come in many shapes and sizes as well as variations in weight. Heavy blades can cut thick, tough food due to its weight while a lighter one may provide versatility and better maneuverability.

Balance. This is quite a vague feature. Knives must be well-balanced on both the blade and handle, as it provides much better handiness. To determine the balance of a knife,

With the right balance, weight, and size, the knife must feel like it extends naturally from your hand. You will know right away but be sure to test it first.

Shun Knife Lines and Features

Manufactured by Kai Group in Seki City, Shun is one of the notable names in the Japanese knife industry. Kai also owns Zero Tolerance and Kershaw, two known Japanese knife brands. What makes this brand appealing is the massive amount of work, by hand, to create each knife to achieve extreme quality.

Shun offers many different lines, and each line features different innovative technology and material, with a unique level of finish.

Sora Line. This is the affordable line that features less elaborate finishing and synthetic handles. It uses Kai’s proprietary Composite Blade Technology by combining Japanese 420J stainless steel upper and VG10 three-layer sanmai cutting edge. The two materials are laser cut and sandwiched together through braze welding.

This line features a modern ‘hamon’ line, which is a nice wavy pattern base based on a traditional Japanese sword.


  • Proprietary composite blade technology
  • Modern ‘hamon’ design
  • Razor-sharp 16-degrees Sanmai edge
  • 420J Stainless steel upper
  • Features traditional style handle with Shun logo

Kanso Line. This line is admired for its simplicity and authentic Japanese design. This is Shun’stagayasan’ and has a full tang construction.


  • Japanese AUS10A blade steel
  • Razor-sharp 16-degree cutting edge
  • Full tang construction
  • Tagayasan wood handle

Classic Line. This is the original Shuns, which is the first Japanese knife line made available to a broader customer base in North America.  It’s not your run of the mill electric knife. Instead of offering the usual heavy, thicker blades, the Shun Classics are lighter and crafted from cutting-edge steel. It is made using proprietary VG-MAX cutting core – an advanced stainless steel that forms the core of the blade to the cutting edge.

It also features stainless Damascus cladding, which are micro-layers of steel on each side to support the core, help food release from the blade and resist corrosion and staining. It has a full composite tang to ensure the Classics are perfectly balanced and lightweight. The PakkaWood handles provide a comfortable grip. Pakkawood


  • Proprietary VG-MAX cutting core
  • Stainless Damascus cladding
  • Razor-sharp 16-degree cutting edge
  • Full composite tang
  • PakkaWood D-shaped handle

Classic Pro Line. This series shares the same features from their Classic line except that it features an etched blade design, which is similar to etching custom knives to identify the maker. Also, all knives in this line are single-beveled, with hollow-ground back, which yields a profoundly sharp edge. However, this requires regular sharpening. The Classic Pro can be sharpened or shaped using the Uraoshi method, which is a process using finer grit whetstones.

It is still made from VG-MAX cutting core, with full composite tang and PakkaWood handle.


  • Proprietary VG-MAX cutting core
  • Stainless Damascus cladding
  • Etched blade design
  • Hollow-ground back
  • Razor-sharp 16-degree cutting edge
  • Full composite tang
  • PakkaWood D-shaped handle

Shun also has Premier and Blue Line, which features ‘Blue’ carbon steel. Over time, this blade turns into a blue-grey patina. Shun claims that once the patina has developed, it helps protect the edge.

Shun Quality, Materials, Care & More

The Classic Line’s blade is made from VG-10.  There’s added chromium too for corrosion and stain resistance. More tungsten to improve steel quality so the edge can be very sharp. More cobalt and molybdenum to enhance strength and vanadium to improve impact resistance. Kanso’s AUS10A is high-carbon steel made with high strength, wear and corrosion resistance and hardness.

Most Shun handles are made from PakkaWood, a handle material made from hardwood with added resin. The resin claims to make the handle durable and moisture-resistant. Buffing and sanding reveal a nice gloss finish on Pakkawood.  Kanso’s tagayasanTagayasan handles are specifically angled for a more comfortable grip.  Sora line has a polymer handle, but the grip is about the same with Pakkawood.

Shun knives are easy to maintain, especially the VG-10 and VG-Max in Sora, Classic, Classic Pro and Premier lines. Some kitchen knives with exotic, advanced steels can be a pain to maintain, but VG10 and VG-Max steels are great for everyday use.

The cladding of Premiere is hand-hammered, so food is less likely to stick compared to the Damascus cladding. This makes it even easier to clean.

Wusthof Knife Lines and Features

Manufactured in Solingen, Germany, Wusthof knives are valued tools of many distinguished chefs and home cooks. Since 1814, this company has set the standard for producing forged knives. It bears the famous Trident logo, which is the symbol of function, form and uncompromising quality.

Wusthof offers several lines, each having different features.

Classic Ikon. This line is a 7-piece set of knives. The design is quite similar to the Classic except for its ergonomic handle with triple-riveted, full tang handle design. The handle certainly makes all the difference once you use them on a daily basis. Numerous chefs prefer this Classic Ikon line simply because of its comfortable grip.


  • Precision forged from a single piece of steel
  • Innovative handle design for control and comfort
  • Triple-riveted, full tang construction
  • Well balanced
  • Features a distinct second bolster
  • Easy to sharpen

Classic. This is Wusthof’s traditional knife line with more than 80 items and five different handle sizes. This is by far the most comprehensive selection of precision-forged knives. The handles are triple-riveted and made from synthetic material. All items are made from high-carbon stainless steel for optimum durability.


  • Over 80 items in the line
  • Five different handle sizes
  • Triple-riveted for durability and strength
  • High-quality handles

Ikon. This line was released after the Classic, and numerous chefs swear to the performance of this knife. Made from the same stainless steel as the Classic, you’ll notice that both are equally reliable and durable. But what sets Ikon apart from other Wusthof lines is the ergonomic handle.

IkonIkon are a bit easier to sharpen.


  • Real wooden handle to enhance the aesthetic appearance of the knife
  • Ergonomic design

Grand Prix IIWusthof along with Classic. Its main difference with Classic is the ergonomically designed handle. It is a perfectly balanced knife with full tang construction and a distinct Trident logo at the end portion. The handles are easy to care and slip-resistant. This line has over 35 items in four different handle sizes.


  • Excellent ergonomics
  • Perfect balance
  • Full tang construction
  • Stainless Trident logo
  • Slip-resistant handle

Culinar. This series features elegant and timeless design pieces, with satin finished handles of 18/10 stainless steel. It has a full tang construction and precision forged from a single piece of high carbon stainless steel.


  • Elegant, timeless design
  • Full tang construction
  • Satin Finished Handles

Shun Quality, Materials, Care & More

Each Wusthof knife is forged from a piece of chromium-molybdenum-vanadium (X 50 Cr Mo V 15) steel, with vanadium and molybdenum included to help improve their strength, resistance, and hardness to corrosion and wear.

Each knife is forged from a piece of steel – the handle and the blade in one piece; hence they are all full-tang and some come with their own knife block. The knives are hardened at about 58 HRC (Hardness Rockwell C

Wusthof’s patented sharpening technology called the PEtec.  It’s important to remember that all Wusthof forged lines share the same manufacturing process, but they differ into a variety of styles distinguished by their balance and feel and their handles. For instance, the Ikon chef knife comes with a gorgeous genuine African Blackwood handle while the traditional Classic is armed with a polypropylene handle that still feels like stained wood.

Also, the Classic and Ikon series are triple-riveted while the Grand Prix II does not have, but with a Trident logo on it. On the other hand, the Culinar series comes with a sleek, contemporary design with a handle made from polished steel.

The secret to maintaining your knives sharpness is t by keeping the blade’s edge aligned. Wusthof recommends to regularly re-align your blade using their honing steel to keep the blade’s edge straight. When washing the knives, it is recommended to hand-wash it with warm, sudsy water. It is not advised to put inside the dishwasher as the blade can damage the coating of the dishwasher rack or basket. Food remains such as spices, juices or sauces may damage the edge.