Wusthof vs Shun Knives: Which is Best in 2021?

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We’ve all used cheap knives that can barely pierce through the skin of a tomato. I know I have in my search for the cheapest kitchen tools possible.

But once you invest in high-quality knives, it’s hard to go back. You save so much time and effort using a product that can cut through almost anything without much effort. Sure, they’re a bit pricey, but with proper care, a premium kitchen knife set can last you a lifetime.

In this article, I’ll compare the Wusthof vs Shun knife sets. These brands both offer sets with durable knives that have superior cutting performance.

If you’re aching to take your kitchen tools to the next level as soon as possible, I prefer the Wusthof Classic 7-Piece Slim Knife Block Set Review better. Keep reading to find out why it beats Shun.

Things To Consider Before Buying a Premium Kitchen Knife Set

A high-quality set of kitchen knives have superior cutting performance and will last for a long time. It contains knives of different sizes so you can customize your choice of knife to what you’re cooking.

However, it can get a little expensive, and if you don’t take care of it properly,  you may compromise its durability. For novice home chefs, an all-purpose chef s knife might be a better investment.

Forged vs Stamped

This relates to the way your knife is manufactured. Both methods have their pros and cons.

Forged

A forged knife has been heated and hammered out of a single steel rod; this makes the steel stronger, and the knife can keep an edge for longer. It’s also more balanced in your hand since there’s metal running from the tip of the blade through the handle and gives you a bolster for support.

However, this blade is less flexible, which might be a disadvantage for delicate cutting. But the hardness of the steel makes it easier to sharpen as the blades won’t twist as much.

Stamped

As for stamped knives, these are cut out from a flat piece of steel; they’re not as durable and sharp as their forged counterparts nor as balanced.

However, they tend to be lighter, and these flexible knives are more appropriate for delicate tasks such as filleting.

https://youtu.be/oQbFqfGksg4

Tang

Tang refers to the way the knife’s blade is fastened to the handle. Full tang means that these two components are welded into one, creating a durable design. There’s less risk of the blade loosening from the handle.

The alternative is push tang, meaning that the blade is pushed into the handle and secured with adhesive, which is cheaper but not as long-lasting.

Cladding

High-quality Japanese knives typically have a high-carbon core that’s clad in stainless steel to protect against rust, but the edge of the blade isn’t to maintain its sharpness. This does make the thin edge susceptible to rust.

Knives without cladding usually don’t have as sharp edges as clad knives as they don’t have as high carbon content or as thin edges.

Other Things To Consider

  • Length: A knife set should ideally have blades of different sizes but should include an all-purpose blade between 8-9 inches (20-23 centimeters.)
  • Sharpness: Knives with a cutting angle between 9.5-16 degrees will cut through almost anything.
  • Single or double bevel: A single bevel knife only has an angle on a single side of the blade and allows for precise slicing. The double bevel has angles on both sides of the blade and is more versatile.
  • Handle: Typically, a Japanese-style handle is more blade-heavy with a light handle, while a Western-style one is more ergonomic and bulkier.

Wusthof Classic 7-Piece Slim Knife Block Set Review

Wusthof is a well-renowned brand that produces all its knives in Germany. However, the block in this set is made in China.

This seven-piece set includes an 8-inch (20-centimeter) all-purpose chef s knife, an 8-inch (20-centimeter) bread knife, a 6-inch (15-centimeter) Kiritsuke prep knife, a 5-inch (13-centimeter) serrated utility knife, and a 3.5-inch (9-centimeters) paring knife. The Wusthof set also comes with an ultra-slim wooden knife block and a pair of kitchen sears.

It’s worth mentioning that you can buy the Wusthof Classic 8 Inch Chef’s Knife by itself; this knife is very versatile and is a more affordable alternative to purchasing the whole set. You can cut anything from raw chicken to cherry tomatoes with the Wusthof Classic chef s knife.

The knives are all made with full tang for increased durability and forged from high-carbon stainless steel. Note that these are non-clad knives.

The Wusthof knives are double bevel with a 14-degree angle on both sides. Users love their sharpness and state that anything the blades touch magically turns into butter. The full tang also gives them a balanced weight, and according to customers, they feel great in your hand.

Even though the Wusthof knives don’t rust or break easily, there are some slight design defects in this set. First, the wooden block isn’t as long-lasting or flawlessly designed as the rest of the collection. It reportedly chips easily and even comes out of the box looking poorly made.

Also, the Wusthof label isn’t etched on the knife but is a simple red sticker that’s likely to fall off after some time.

Finally, you can also get a stamped knife set from Wusthof for a lower price. The Wusthof Gourmet Twelve Piece Block Set gives you seven knives that are more lightweight than the Wusthof Classics but perhaps not as durable or high-performing.

Pros

  • Durable.
  • Made in Germany.
  • Full tang.
  • Razor-sharp.
  • Ergonomic and balanced.
  • Double bevel.

Cons

  • Wood block is not as high-quality.
  • Wusthof label is a sticker.

Shun Classic 10-Piece Knife Block Set Review

Now, let’s move onto our Shun knives review. The Shun set is handcrafted in Japan, while the honing tool is made in China.

This ten-piece set comes with a 9-inch (23-centimeter) hollow edge slicing knife, an 8-inch (20-centimeter) all-purpose chef s knife, a 7-inch (18-centimeter) Santoku knife, a 6-inch (15-centimeter) utility knife, a 5-inch (13-centimeter) hollow edge Nakiri knife, a 4.5-inch (11.5-centimeter) Honesuki knife, and a 3.5-inch (9-centimeters) paring knife. Also included are a bamboo knife block and kitchen sears.

The Shun kitchen knives have a VG-MAX high-carbon stainless steel core with 34 layers of stainless Damascus cladding. VG-MAX is known for its superior edge retention, and paired with a 16-degree angle on both sides of the blade; these knives have superb cutting performance.

Users agree and state that these are some of the sharpest knives they’ve ever used—if not the sharpest. The Shun knives are also beautiful and have a unique design due to the Damascus clad creating a flowing pattern.

Another popular feature is that the Shun knives are full-tang, so the blade won’t come apart from the Pakkawood handle.

The clad helps make the Shun blade more corrosion-resistant and tough. But as per the nature of Japanese knives, the edge isn’t covered by cladding, maintaining its sharpness and thinness; this does make the edges prone to rusting and chipping, as reported by customers.

Users also report that the Shun knives tend to bend and aren’t appropriate for cutting harder items. Some even state that they came already bent out of the box.

Pros

  • Incredibly sharp.
  • Shun knives are made in Japan.
  • Damascus cladding.
  • Double bevel.
  • Unique style.

Cons

  • The thin edges rust and chip rather easily.
  • Knives are soft and prone to bending.

Shun vs Wusthof: What’s the Difference?

Wusthof vs Shun Knives: Which is Best in 2021?

Now, let’s compare the Shun vs Wusthof knives side-by-side.

Common Features

What’s common between the two sets is that their knives are both full tang and made from durable metal. These are features that make the steel incredibly durable and prevent the blade from separating from the handle.

Not to mention that the knives in both sets are made of high-carbon stainless steel, which increases their sharpness and edge retention. Users feel like both Shun and Wusthof knives are razor-sharp and can cut through almost anything.

Both Shun and Wusthof are double bevel knives that are very versatile in the kitchen. They can help you cut and slice most things, and they’re easier to use than single bevel ones.

Differences

The biggest difference with these sets is that the Wusthof set is made in Germany, while Shun knives are made in Japan, impacting craftsmanship.

German—or Western in general—chef’s knives have a bulkier handle and are heavy; they’re made without cladding and have a thicker, slightly less sharp edge. Instead, they’re forged from a single piece of steel, which makes them incredibly durable. All of the above is true for the Wusthof knives.

Japanese knives, including the Shun chef knife, are more blade-heavy and have a thinner, sharper edge; this can be seen in its impressive 16-degree angle.

a japanese knife set in stainless steel on top of dark wood

To protect the material from rust and reaction, Japanese knives and the ones from Shun have stainless steel cladding. But to maintain its superb cutting performance, the edge doesn’t; this means that this part of the blade is susceptible to chipping and rusting.

Note that the handling of the Shun knives is made in China, so they could potentially be of lower quality.

Other differences regarding Shun vs Wusthof include the number of items in the sets. The Shun comes with seven knives, while Wusthof only contains five. But the Shun set is also more expensive than Wusthof.

Alternatives: Wusthof vs Henckels vs Shun

Are both the Shun and Wusthof premium sets over your budget? Let’s have a look at some more affordable alternatives.

Henckels International Kitchen Knife Set With Block

This is another “German” knife set (that’s actually made in China.) It’s a 15-piece set that offers a similar set of knives to the Wusthof (including an all-purpose chef s knife.) These are stamped from stainless steel and come with a full tang. The handles are made of plastic, and the whole set is labeled dishwasher-safe.

Users like the lightweight feel of these knives and the affordable price; they also like that there aren’t any signs of breakage at the handle. They’re also reportedly easy to maneuver.

What’s not as popular is that they’re not the sharpest set of knives; they hold up fine with frequent sharpening, but they can’t compete with Wusthof in this aspect. Also, the wooden block doesn’t seem to fit the knives properly.

  • Lightweight.
  • Budget-friendly.
  • Full tang.
  • Not super sharp.
  • Wooden block isn’t designed well.

Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Forged 12-Piece Japanese Steel Knife Set

Here’s a cheaper “Japanese” knife set, manufactured in China but with Japanese stainless steel. It’s available in 4, 8, 12, or 19 pieces. These are forged knives with full tang that are well-balanced and have slightly longer handles that users feel are comfortable to grip.

This set is way cheaper than the Shun set and gives you a larger variety of kitchen knives at the same time. Note that they should only be hand washed.

These knives are reportedly rather dull when coming out of the box, especially when compared to Shun; they also rust easily despite being made of stainless steel. Quality control also seems to be lacking when it comes to this set, and users report that some knives are missing logos while the bamboo wood block has signs of glue residue.

  • Very affordable.
  • Many knives of different lengths.
  • Long, well-balanced handles.
  • Full tang.
  • Not nearly as sharp as Shun.
  • Tends to rust.

Conclusion: Wusthof vs Shun

a stainless steel knife with a black handle and a sharpening tool on a wooden cutting board

Now it’s time for the drumroll. Which is the ultimate premium kitchen knife set, Shun or Wusthof?

It really depends on if you prefer a durable, heavy-duty, ergonomic German knife set such as the Wusthof or want finer, sharper, and blade-heavy Japanese kitchen knives that come with the Shun.

But for the home cook, Wusthof Classic 7-Piece Slim Knife Block Set is the winner in my eyes. These knives perform well no matter what you’re cutting, and the forged steel is incredibly durable.

Even though the Shun knives are crazy sharp, Wusthof blades come very close in cutting performance without the risks that come with a thin edge—being more susceptible to rust and chipping.

If you have more cooking experience and want to explore sharp Japanese blades, go for the Shun set. These aren’t the best beginner knives since they need proper care, but if you learn the cutting technique, however, you can experience a lifetime of superiorly sharp knives.