Shun DM-0712 Classic 197mm(7¾") Chinese Chef's
Japanese Kitchen Knife Review

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Shun Chinese Chef's Knife 197mm(7¾")


- The test use was conducted in my kitchen, for several days. The edge was sharpened to approximately 15°-16° per side. As described in the sharpening section, the final finish was 0.25µm, which gives very high mirror polish edge. Needless to say, that type of the edge is hair splitting sharp, let alone trivial shaving :). Considering that I was testing vegetable cleaver, 90% of the cutting was done with the vegetables. Although, speaking strictly, Chinese vegetable cleavers, or chukabochos are far more than just veggie knives. Actually, that is the reason Shun labeled their chukabocho as Chinese Chefs knife. It is the equivalent of chefs knife for many Asian and some western cooks too. I'm sort of trying to get to that level, but for now I am having hard time wrapping my head around the fine techniques to use the knife of that size and geometry for peeling and other delicate tasks. Anyway, there is plenty of cutting to do besides small items, and I had no problems keeping myself busy with that. Overall, there were two major cutting sessions, each about hour and half long. Plus, several shorter sessions during those two weeks I was messing with this Shun vegetable cleaver. Overall, over 20 different types of vegetables were cut during those days. Well, the salad I make is a mix of all that. Can't say it's the most tasty thing in the world, hate the taste of half of the vegetables in it to be honest, but it is loaded with vitamins and very importantly, it does provide excellent knife exercise and testing grounds for any kitchen knife. I'll tell you the secret, minced veggies don't taste nearly as bad as the whole things ;)

The harshest of those, carrots and broccoli stems. Carrots were cut into chiffonade, and as for the broccoli, after shredding soft, green tops the stems were first sliced into ~1mm thick slices and then those slices were minced using rocking motion. Both of those tasks require precision, and a very sharp edge. Otherwise you will get mashed veggies, not clean, crisp cuts. By the way, for the same reason, thin edges are far more desirable than 40° western edges. Thin slices you know... Anyway, during those tests or tasks I was mainly using forward/down slicing cutting motion, known as Utsu in Japan. The light weight and thin edge of the Shun cleaver do help with that. However, I didn't feel very comfortable with its handle. For comparison I've picked up Takeda chukabocho, which is more comparable with Shun cleaver, than the longer and heavier Moritaka chukabocho. On its own Shun did perform well, but compared to Takeda cleaver, it was no match. For one, Takeda chukabocho has thinner edge, and the blade is even thinner than the Shun, then the handle is better. Well, again, bear in mind Takeda is twice the price. As for the Moritaka cleaver, since I was into comparisons, I did try few cuts with it too. It is heavier than either Shun or Takeda chukabochos, and it took me some time to learn proper grip so I wouldn't get tired. But that extra weight combined with very thin edge make a fantastic cutter. Plus the longer blade, overall I was faster and more confident with Moritaka too compared to Shun. Well, ok, this one[Moritaka vegetable cleaver] is also twice the price, custom, handmade chukabocho. It has to perform better.

Another interesting test was shredding collard green leaves. Well, to be more precise, it was chiffonade. Standard procedure would be cutting the stem from the leaf, which on average are over 7" long, then rolling several leaves into a super size cigar, and after that cutting the chiffonade. With the interval of 1mm, preferably. I describe that in details, because part one does requite more or less maneuverable and robust knife to cut the stems from the leaves, since they go almost all the way through it. You need two almost parallel cuts, alongside the stem to make and then one perpendicular, or if the knife is nimble enough, two cuts merge at the single point. Sounds kindda simple, but with dull or heavy knife that isn't very easy. If the hand isn't steady, or the edge isn't sharp you will go to the sides, cut into the stem, knife will get stuck in there, etc. All that slows you down. Good, sharp knife makes it all in swift, precise movements, no loss of time. Shun did perform very well on that part, it is light, and was very sharp, even after all that ordeal with carrots and broccoli. Although, I did feel I had to apply more effort while doing that compared to Moritaka or Takeda cleavers. I diligently did the same tests right after Shun cleaver testing with collard greens. Shredding the rolled leaves was easier. I was able to maintain consistent 1mm thick cutting interval the whole time, and cutting using the forward/down motion was pretty much effortless. I'd give it[Shun chukabocho] B+ on that one.

Well, I won't bore you by describing cutting process of all the 20+ types of veggies in those two big sessions. Shun cleaver did perform well and I was quite satisfied with its performance. Although, again, smallish handle did got in a way few times and I wished it was more like octagonal handles on Takeda or Moritaka vegetable cleavers. Well, it's a Shun and other people may like that handle better. Anyway, generally, the Chinese chefs knife was also used for mincing large amounts of Italian parsley. It was an ok performer for that, but Moritaka cleaver was vastly superior for that work. Slicing red radish into translucent pieces however, was easier with Shun cleaver, thanks to its lighter weight :) And that was about the only time it has an advantage over Moritaka cleaver, thanks to quite considerable difference in their weights. More of a problem was slicing 5-6 asparagus stems together into ~2mm thick slices. That's a pretty tough job, especially closer to the ends, things tend to be sticky. Thinner and sharper edges are really important, and in this case both Takeda and Moritaka cleavers were way ahead, thanks to their convex, and thinner edges. Especially Moritaka cleaver, which was clearly benefiting from greater weight and a thinner edge. Slicing tomatoes was fun. As the edge was, it could still slice though the tomato under its own weight. It's still a good test for the knife sharpness. One more test was cutting bell pepper. That can be either easy, or not so easy, depends from which side you go. The skin is quite tough and slippery, so unless the knife is really sharp, cutting from the outside isn't fun. I mean once you removed the ends of the item and you have it split into 2-3 pieces. Mincing those pieces form the inner side is easy, but since I was testing knife performance I went with the skin side. Shun still had enough bite and sharpness left in it to go through the skin pretty much effortlessly. That is a good result, whether or not other knives outperform it. Well, that pretty much sums up all the cutting adventures. Now about edge holding during all that.

Overall, Shun Chukabocho is a really good performer in terms of edgeholding. No, it's not on par with Aogami Super or Aogami I, or ZDP-189 steel knives I have in my kitchen block. However, for VG-10 factory knife it is a really solid performer. First 1.5 hour long session it survived without any considerable loss of sharpness. In the end I didn't have any rolls on the belly, wherever it became in contact with the board during rocking motion cuts. Next few dsys I didnt' have anything major for it, so I just used borosilicate rod to steel it before each use. Before last long session, which was also 1.5 hour long, I did strop the blade on 0.25µm diamond loaded leather strop and then on the leather strop. At 61HRC leather strop is still very good option, perhaps better than steeling rod. After the second session, the degradation was similar, i.e. pretty much non existent, so I stropped the blade on the 0.5µm and then on 0.25µ diamond loaded strops, finished up with the plain leather strop and packed the blade to return it to its owner. In the end, I've used the knife for its designed tasks, and it did perform reasonably well, especially considering its price. I am not saying it is a cheap one, 175$ is not cheap by any means, but it's not 400$ either :) For veggie and soft materials the edge holding was good, and let's not forget the edge was significantly thinner than on the western knives(32° vs. 40°). On the other hand, go up and look at the micrographs attached to the general section. That is what happens when you misuse and abuse the knife. It will not hold any edge if you chop bones with it, or have it banging around other knives and forks in the kitchen sink or a dishwasher. Remember that when deciding for your new knife, or at least don't blame on the maker and knife if you neglect it ;)


- So summarize, in my view DM-0712 Classic Chinese Chefs knife is a good one. It is medium(that's a bit of a stretch, but ok) size Chinese vegetable cleaver, made from a good, well known and tested stainless steel, which is hardened almost to the max, 60-61HRC, with 62HRC being the maximum for VG-10. Protective layer, a.k.a. Jigane is made from the damascus stainless steel, in other words folded steel, which provides both, good protection for the VG-10 core (Hagane) and is visually pretty attractive. The only complaint from my side are the smaller handle, which is highly personal, so if you like Shuns, there is nothing wrong with that knife, go for it. I am sure you can find better bargain than 175$ if you look for it. And as usual, word of caution for those who are not familiar with Japanese knives, they are much harder than the average western kitchen knife, so dropping them, tossing in the sink, and other abusive behavior will not be tolerated by those hard steel blades. Simply put, you are risking breaking the blade. I do know several cases where people broke the tips on various Shuns, simply by dropping them on the floor. In the end, it is a good buy, I don't consider most of the Shun knives to be the best price/performance ratio, but this cleaver is certainly one of the best in that regard.


  • Blade - 197.00mm(7.76")
  • Thickness - 2.42mm
  • Width - 83.88mm
  • OAL - 315.00mm(12.4")
  • Steel - VG-10 steel at 60-61HRC
  • Handle - Pakkawood
  • Weight - 318.20g(10.76oz)
  • Acquired - 10/2009 Price - 175.00$

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Last updated - 05/19/19