Which brand is better and why?

by | Feb 11, 2021 | cutlery and knife | 0 comments

Seki are said to be the perfect place for blacksmiths as they have all the necessary ‘ingredients’: the right soil and wood for forging, a nearby water source for cooling and the perfect raw materials for steel. To

almost 800 years, this is a trip to the city for flawless katanas.

In the 1870s, when samurai were banned and their weapons were banned, artisans instead moved from making swords to household kitchen knives.

But that has not stopped them from creating lasting, incredibly sharp and beautiful knives.

The tradition is alive to this day.

And two brands that live up to this are Shun and Yaxell.

The question now is: what is better? Read on to find out …

Shun: The right mix of tradition and technology


Saijiro Endo only made pocket knives and small razors in 1908 for the locals in Seki.

Then he started manufacturing Gyuto and Santoku as his company grew in the following years.

In the competitive cutlery industry, he could not have imagined that his humble brand would be world-renowned – or a real rival to more established European brands – a century later.

Creating the knife

Faithful to Seki’s traditional fair smith

Shun manufactures their products by hand until today.

But they do not disregard innovation and automation and figured out a way to include this in their 100-step process to ensure consistency.

And because steel is the heart and soul of the magazine, they worked hard to formulate the best.

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For strength and flexibility, they use AUS10A and AUS8A.

For durability and longevity for sharpness, they go for VG10, VG2 and Shun’s very own VG Max.

For their top variants, two or more of these steels are layered for forging, hence the Damascus design is on the face of the blade.

Essential features

Most Shun knives have the typical Japanese knife structure – thin spine, slightly curved belly, extremely sharp edge, pointed tip, short bolster that does not reach the heel, and a full or partial pliers.

The difference in the variants is mainly in the design of the handle.

Sora, their entry-level series, is made of a thermoplastic material.

The handle flares from bolster to ass.

Their more expensive series – Premier and Kanso – is made from fortified Tagayasan and PakkaWood.

These have the more traditional Japanese cylindrical or octagonal handle.


  • Uses well-formulated VG Max steel
  • Has different handle designs
  • Offers good customer service – especially with free sanding
  • The starting level variant is affordable


  • Aside from their entry-level variant, Shun is quite expensive
  • Some even say that this brand is too expensive

Best selling variant: Classic blond chef’s knife

This is similar to the classic coke knife made with VG Max steel core, so you do not have to worry about chipping and accidental breaking.

The biggest difference is in the handle.

While the regular Classic uses dark PakkaWood, it has a light wood color, hence the term ‘blonde’.

Yaxell: Going beyond what is expected

Unlike more popular brands, not much information about the company’s history has been released except for its founding in 1932.

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But that hardly matters because their end product speaks highly for them.

Their knives have won numerous awards around the world.

One of its most famous variants, for example, has been rated as the top knife in Germany – home to the best European wings, no less – for two consecutive years (2016 and 2017).

Creating the knife

Yaxell still adheres to the traditional method of knife making.

However, they use different steel alloys depending on the series.

Their input variants, for example, have a VG10 core that is clamped by stainless steel on both sides.

On the other hand, their top of the line has a core made of the unusually hard SG2 microcarbide powder steel.

This is then layered with 80 sheets of hard and soft stainless steel on both sides.

Yes, you read that right: their blade has 161 layers of steel.

Essential features

Yaxell has the conventional shape of a Japanese leaf.

The spine is thin and straight, the abdomen is only slightly curved, the buttocks are thick but do not reach the heel, and the forceps are full and extend out of the ass.

The handle is a cross between the cylindrical a la tsuka shape and the larger European ones.

It is also riveted (two or three, depending on the variant).

But this is not a problem when the handle is made of Canvas – Micarta (wood mixed with linen).

With several layers of steel used for forging, you will be amazed at the curls and waves on the surface of the blade – it really is like no other.

All their knives are completely handmade – from forging the blade to carving the logos.

No wonder you want to spend a whole penny with one of these.

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  • High quality materials are used
  • 3 to 161 layers of steel forged, resulting in a beautiful Damascus pattern
  • Completely handmade
  • It will last you a lifetime


  • Most handle designs are common
  • It’s so expensive that their entry-level variant is almost $ 100 each

Best selling variant: RAN Chef’s 8 ”

With a VG10 core and 34 layers of high carbon stainless steel on both sides, this is the height of form and function.

This Yaxell variant, which is a versatile kitchen knife, won the best knife award, especially in Germany for two years (2009 and 2012).

In summary

There is no doubt that Shun manufactures decent knives.

They have been hailed by connoisseurs as soon as they introduced their products to the US and in Europe.

But it is difficult to compete with a blade that is handmade from forging to polishing.

And that’s Yaxell’s edge in this knife fight.

If you are willing to spend as much as $ 500 on a piece of ingenious Japanese cutlery, order a 161-layer Gou or an equally beautiful Ran from Yaxell now.

But if you just want a versatile tool in the kitchen that can last your years and not break the bank – Shun is the best option for you.

Last updated on February 13, 2021 by Andy Wang

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