I got this Shun from the same friend that gave 200mm(8") Shun Classic Chef's Knife for sharpening. Once again, it was my curiosity and a chance to get more experience with different knives. Plus, it was really interesting how did utility knife held up in common household use. I already had quite good understanding what could happen to VG-10 steel in non-knife people's kitchen. However, different knives behave differently and get used differently too. So, either way it was a valuable experience :) That is for someone like me into knives. Otherwise, not much fun fixing up someone else's screwed up blades.
General- Just like Shun Chef's knife, I've held this blade when the owner got it. Nice packaging, fit and finish pretty much perfect. Very nice thin edge, well sharpened. Back then I still thought utility knives were a good idea in the kitchen, mainly based on combat/hunting/outdoor style knife experience. All that despite the fact that I couldn't use various utility knives that well inthe kitchen. Still, this one looked good and had a thin blade... Must be good. It is a good cutter per-se, but as for the usefulness in the kitchen, that's highly questionable. Nevertheless, every single mass maker produces utility knives for the kitchen. So, if you like them, you won't have to look for them too long.
Blade- Shun Classic utility knife has 152mm(6") long, slick blade. Like I said above, it does look appealing. width at the heel is 35mm. The blade is dual tapered, and at the heel it's just about 2mm thick. Somehow, all of the Shuns I've had were 2mm thick though. I figure that has something to do with production costs and efficiency. I guess it's easier and more cost effective to make all knives form the standard sheet of metal. Well, as long as that doesn't affect knife performance I have nothing against that. However, I can't say Shun knives are cheap at any rate though.
Now, in 2009, 3 years later I've got this knife to examine and play with. That is if you consider resharpening damaged edge fun. One interesting thing I have noticed pretty much
immediately, was the fact that the utility knife had a lot less damage to the edge compared to the poor Shun Chef's Knife. If you want to have precise numbers, then I've counted 38
more or less significant chips, nicks and dents on the Chef's knife, while the utility knife suffered only 2 chips. Although, both of the chips were quite sizeable. Both of them
are depicted together on the photo at the beginning of this paragraph. The point is that those two knives were in the same household and used by the same people. In the end, if we
go by sheer chipping amount, then Chef's knife was used approximately 19 times more often than the utility knife. Obviously that isn't a precise number, but given the fact that
both knives made of identical steel, VG-10 to be precise, hardened to the same 60-61HRC, then the nmuber of chips, or the extent of the damage inflicted by the same users correlates
to the overall knife use pretty good.
As for the damaged places themselves, they look pretty interesting under 150x magnification :) For the curious folks, back side of both chips shown on the second and third photos are here - chip #1 backside and chip #2 backside. Frankly, I don't have good understanding as to what happened to cause that type of chipping. Perhaps a direct hit on the bone, or something even less suitable for the delicate edge. Second chip is more interesting, because the front side shows extensive damage above the edge, on the blade. Apparently the knife was froced into something pretty stiff and hard. I doubt a blade like that could go through the bone. May be it was can lid?
Handle- The handle on this Shun Classic Utility knife is exactly the same type as on Classic Chef's knife. Therefore, most of the comments apply about the make and such. In short, it is a D shaped, Pakkawood handle, which is very dark, black and dense wood. Stainless steel pommel is attached at the end. The only difference is the thickness or a diameter of the handle. I didn't measure those with the caliper, but roughly, utility knife handle diameter was 60%-70% of the chef's knife handle. I personally liked it more than chef's knife handle. However, that's good for the small and narrow knife like it is. Clearly for the gyuto or even fugubiki that would be a very small handle. Well, what's important, in my opinion, this handle fits the utility knife very well. I mean handle/blade proportions. So, even though the utility knife isn't my favorite for kitchen use, as a knife it's well designed and executed.
Sharpening- I've discussed sharpening procedures for the VG-10 steel in 200mm(8") Shun Chef's Knife review. It's fairly easy to sharpen especially compared to ultra hard and ultra wear resistant alloys like CPM-10V, CPM S125V, CPM-110V, ZDP-189. The equipment was identical used in sharpening of the Shun Chef's knife too: Beston(Bester) 500 Grit Whetstone, Bester 700 grit whetstone, 2000-3000 grit Aoto Natural Whetstone, Kitayama 8000-12000 synthetic whetstone, then stropping on the 0.5µm and 0.25µm diamond crystal loaded strops followed by stropping on plain leather strop. As before that resulted in a nice, mirror polished edge. Overall time was much less too, considering that the utility knife is shorter :)
Usage- Like I said above, I don't find much of the use for the utility knives in the kitchen, but I diligently tried to use it for my usual cutting tasks. Well, for vegetable chopping and mincing it is clearly a bad choice. Too short and too narrow to be something useful. Gyuto knives win in that area any time, if you are curious about those check out Gyuto reviews. After short time I gave up. Next part was peeling. Which went much better compared to veggie chopping, but for comparison I've picked up first Tojiro Flash 100mm(4") paring knife, then 85mm Watanabe Small Knife. Tojiro has similar blade geometry, it's just shorter, while Watanabe small knife is even shorter, 85mm but wider. Both knives felt more comfortable and nimble for the work I was doing, that is peeling apples and avocados. Finally I've tried to make red radish brunoise and again, smaller paring knvies worked better. So, feel free to look at the Paring Knife Reviews :). Unfortunately, I am no big fan of sandwiches, so I didn't have them to cut in half, which is where utility knives excel supposedly. In my opinion that is a very specialized area to buy a separate knife for it, even for a knife nut like me. I've sliced some paper just for the sake of it and then gave a the knife few passes on the 0.25µm diamond crystal loaded strop and that was it.
Conclusions- Well made knife, but very limited use. At least to me with my kitchen knife arsenal. If you think you can put that utility knife to a good use, so be it, it's a well made knife and a good cutter too. Just not very versatile despite its multipurpose-like name ;)
- Blade - 152.00mm(5.98")
- Thickness - 2.00mm
- Width - 35.00mm
- OAL - 282.00mm(11.1")
- Steel - VG-10 60-61HRC
- Handle - Pakkawood
- Acquired - 06/2006 Price - 75.00$
- Watanabe Small Paring Knife Review
- Global GSF-15 Paring Knife Review
- Watanabe 270mm Honyaki Gyuto Knife Review
- Sanetsu 270mm ZDP-189 Gyuto Knife Review
- Aritsugu 270mm A-Type Gyuto Knife Review
- Tadatsuna White Steel Kamagata Usuba Knife Review
- Tojiro Flash Paring Knife Review
- Watanabe Small Nakiri Knife Review
- Watanabe Honesuki Knife Review
Last updated - 09/01/11