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Shun's VG10 microchipping

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Threethreethree, Jun 2, 2014.

  1. Threethreethree


    May 30, 2013
    Hi there,

    I bought a Tim Malzer edition santoku few months ago, the factory edge was quite obtuse... So i used it until it lost its edge and decided to go heavy on reprofiling using SIC sandpaper, given i own a whole lot of VG10 knives and always go for 30 degrees inclusive without issues, i thought it would be a good idea to do that on my Shun... Wrong, it microchipped like crazy even doing light dicing and cutting bread, and let me say i'm downright anal about my knives and inspect the edge each time i use them, so i'm SURE the damage happened when cutting and not by improper handling/storage.
    The cutting board i use is a bamboo one which works amazingly well with my other knives without mangling them ( both kitchen and pocket knives ).
    So i bit the bullet and went back to a more obtuse edge using Spyderco's Profile, i would guess about 35 degrees which is 1 degree more than what Shun recommends.
    Guess what... it still microchipped a lot when cutting bread...
    So i just slapped a 40 deg bevel with the 204 without even trying to remove the chips and i'll see what happens if it still chips, at this point i kinda hope for burnt steel that will grind away but i dont know, i feel bad as i knew they had a reputation of being prone to microchip but i thought it was because people who used them were ham fisted.
    Something isnt right when my old Spydie santoku in mbs 26 can hold a finer edge ( i went to 25 degrees on that one without mangling nor gross failure ) for longer without microchipping than a 220 euros VG10 knife.

    Well i had to vent =/
  2. Moxy

    Moxy Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 30, 2011
    Thats disappointing to hear. I recently bought a Shun Classic 7in Santoku and I haven't noticed any chipping. Rolling, yes, plenty of it. Especially when cutting on a mahogany endgrain board, which is probably a bit too hard on the edge. But I've always been able to hone the edge true again. 30degs inclusive.
  3. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007
    Shun VG-10 is a poor example of VG-10 but you were cutting bread, big no no. Dicing or chopping also stresses the edge and when thin you just can't treat a edge that way unless the heat treat and geometry is top notch.
  4. pjwoolw

    pjwoolw Sharpening guy

    Nov 12, 2012
    Shun Vg-10 is tough to find a durable angle. 30 inclusive, or there a bouts the edge doesn't hold up well. 34 to 36 inclusive, again there a bouts, seems to hold up allot better. At least in my experience. Seems the more your get back into the blade with sharpening the better it holds up. Or I should say as well as it can.
  5. Threethreethree


    May 30, 2013
    When i say dicing i should have said 'deliberate draw cut',clearly not chopping and banging on the board. So to me there was NO abuse, just piss poor weak steel.
    And about the bread...this is homemade bread using a panasonic machine, meaning the crust isnt hard like french bread, still doesnt qualify as abuse...i have hard time believing you actually think i went hard on that knife because i obviously didnt.
    Come on i know they are thin knives, im not expecting to smash lobsters with it yet i feel deceived when i see edge mangling after 4 onions sliced and that this edge is in fact way thicker than a 60 euros Spydie santoku, that Spydie santoku did all what the shun did without any roll, chips.
    Now i know the blade is thicker on my police 3, and that the heat treat is softer yet when i pushed it to 25 degrees inclusive it didnt get mangled...

    I dont feel robbed if i at least gain edge retention or if the steel allows me to drop the angle to squeeze more cutting power for the same maintenance regimen but in this case i feel deceived badly.

    I just feel i paid for a beautiful knife, not a GOOD knife used to cut things.
  6. Ryanol


    Aug 24, 2011
    That's a bummer I have shun pros from 1996 and while they are prone to chipping its from going through chicken bones and whatnot when butchering from whole. If I were you I'd take advantage of the warranty.
  7. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007
    That about sums it up.

    I wasn't calling you out for your uses just stating what I saw a potential problems in use.

    You should look into Tojiro.
  8. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    Are you sure they were chips, as in fractures?

    I dont see how bread would be a no no for any but the very thinnest knives, and even then, it still sounds a little ridiculous.

    2nd the Tojiro knives.
  9. Threethreethree


    May 30, 2013
    Yeah i looked after Tojiro knives before choosing the Shun, i just picked the Shun because i liked the design and the handle much more and i really didnt think they could botch VG10 like that, basically i wanted VG10 because i just love Spydie's VG10, i kinda knew i wouldnt have a knife which is roughly 3 times better than my old Spydie santoku, yet i expected something slightly better in terms of performance while at the same time pleasing to the eyes...
    Anyway, i'll try to use it as it is and allow again 1 or 2 sharpening sessions, hoping to deplete that hypothetical burnt steel, if i still get chips, bread or not i'll send it in warranty.

    Also, sorry to get defensive Jason but i just felt somewhat butthurt.

    Edit: Some are definately chips half moon shaped, other are rather unclear, looks dented but witout burrs to be felt on the sides, kinda strange in fact...
  10. kwackster


    Dec 23, 2005
    +1 on Tojiro.
    Probably the most used Japanese brand in my region with restaurant Chefs who want something better at edge holding than their mainstay brands Wusthof and Zwilling J.A.Henckels standard lines.
    Tojiro's VG10 also holds a better edge for longer compared to the same steel in Shuns.

    Many seem to like this 240mm gyuto model from their DP series (which i also use as a loaner):

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014
  11. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007
    You can actually roll the edge of a chefs knife on a bread with a harder crust.
  12. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    How thin and what angle do you need for that to happen? Are you sure it isnt cutting bread on a glass cutting board?
  13. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007
    It does not matter the thickness or angle it's the cutting mechanics. It's akin to using a sword to saw a board instead of a chainsaw.
  14. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    Have you done this yourself or heard about it from someone else? Any particular steel known for this?
  15. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007
    I've done it myself and have more than enough experience with customers (such as bread makers) to have a solid first hand user input on the subject ;)
  16. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    Obviously I'm having a hard time imagining this happening. How do you eat bread that will roll a steel knife edge regardless of edge thickness or angle?
  17. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007
    Go buy some good bread from a baker and test it out. It's cuttng mechanics, I don't know how else to explain it.
  18. pnsxyr


    Aug 29, 2013
    KAI generally makes really good products that I love, but the VG-10 used on Shuns are really notorious for chipping and I consider many of them to be really poor examples of how good VG-10 can be. While thinner kitchen knives at higher hardness obviously lack the durability of other knives, the VG-10 Shuns are notorious for sustaining damage from light usage. Rather than addressing the issue, Shun posted a message on their website that more or less said the knives chip only from improper usage or sharpening. I have kitchen knives in everything from low carbon stainless to 52100 to White & Blue "paper" steels to S35VN to VG-10 from other makers. I have never used a kitchen knife with a blade a delicate as the VG-10 Shuns I had, and I rarely get rid of kitchen knives but those I did. But at the pricing of most Shuns, you can often find knives in White #2 so I sold them and put the money towards a Konosuke in White #2 (worlds better of a knife).

    Bamboo also beats on edges...and the VG-10 Shuns will fare especially poorly. Ideally, a thicker maple block will give the best preservation of the edge. There are other woods used too, although maple is generally the top pick. I personally like the look of teak and cherry, which are much harder on blades than maple. Both were absolutely brutal on my VG-10 Shuns.
  19. piscesjustinp


    Aug 29, 2014
    I wanted to look up what kind of steel my Shun KE-5900 was using because it has chips all over the blade now. I have owned it for about 3 years and was using it a good amount but with care, before the edge gave out. It is do for a good sharpening before I attempt to use it on steaks again! that is for sure.

    Its confusing to me because from what I found on VG-10 is that is is considered a "super steal". Are you guys saying that its just bad VG-10, like it was not heat treated properly?

    Like the previous poster said, I got it because it is a beautiful knife. I wanted it for juicy steaks and filleting fish so I figured the long skinny blade would work well, if I could just keep it sharp somehow.

    Do you guys think I should give up on it?
  20. I think that's most of the issue with the Shuns, based on the comments seen here. I don't have any Shun knives, but VG-10's performance varies widely in accordance with different makers' heat treat methods. Spyderco's VG-10 tends to run somewhat 'soft' and is almost impossible to chip (it'll burr, roll or dent under the same sort of edge trauma), and the VG-10 knives I have from A.G. Russell are somewhat harder than Spyderco and seem to be very durable, with less tendency to roll, even when very thin; I've been impressed with those. Sounds like the Shun knives have been taken a bit too hard (if actually fracturing) or too soft (if it's actually rolling or denting, instead of chipping/fracturing), or there's some other factor in heat treat or quench that's degrading the toughness of them.

    Last edited: Sep 23, 2014

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