7 Best Damascus Knife Sets


Damascus steel is truly beautiful. It’s one of the main reasons it’s so renowned and desired.

But damascus isn’t just forged for its beauty, these traditionally Japanese steels are also extremely strong and offer some flexibility, preventing them from shattering whilst being able to retain an extremely sharp edge.

Once used for master weaponry forging, nowadays damascus steel is more likely to be found in the kitchen of a knife enthusiast, someone looking for a practical tool that looks beautiful.

In this article I’m going to list my personal seven recommendations for damascus steel knife sets.

I’m going to offer you a range of sets and different prices and designs, but one thing is common throughout, they all use genuine Japanese steel and are forged in the true damascus fashion, unlike many ‘fake’ damascus sets you’ll find that have merely been stamped to form the classic flowing water appearance.

But to get right to the point, here’s my personal recommendation for a damascus steel knife set.

My best recommendation would be the Shun Premier 7-Piece Essential Block Set. It includes all the essential knives you’ll need at a reasonable price for the quality you get. Shun are a very well-known Japanese knife manufacturer and uses their own specially formulated Japanese steel, VG-MAX.

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Take a look at the Shun Premier 7-Piece Essential Block Set on Amazon here (opens new tab).

But now, let’s just straight into the content and look at all seven of my recommendations.

7 Best Damascus Knife Sets

Here’s the summary table of my personal recommendations for the best damascus knife sets.

They are ordered from the highest to lowest price. All of them use quality materials and every single one uses genuine Japanese steel.

The Zelite and Dalstrong knife sets are made from great materials and use high-carbon Japanese steel but both sets are manufactured in China.

As a result you get a lot for your money, but for the Japanese purist the other five sets are all manufactured directly in Japan.

NamePriceCheck current price
Shun Premier 15-piece Knife Block Set$1,700 – $1,800Link to Amazon
Shun Premier 7-Piece Essential Block Set (my top pick)$700 – $800Link to Amazon
Miyabi 7-Piece Knife Block Set$650 – $750Link to Amazon
Enso 7-Piece Knife Block Set$500 – $600Link to Amazon
Zelite Alpha-Royal Japanese Series 6-Piece Damascus Magnetic Block Set$410 – $430Link to Amazon
Shun Classic 6-piece Knife Block Set$400 – $430Link to Amazon
Dalstrong Shogun Series X 5-Piece Knife Set$330 – $360Link to Amazon

Full a detailed review of each set, including the exact carbon and chromium content of the steel used in each set, just scroll below.

Shun Premier 15-Piece Knife Block Set

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Shun Premier 15-Piece Knife Block Set Review Table

Country of manufactureJapan
Steel typeVG-MAX (Durable and hard Japanese steel)
Rockwell hardnessHRC 61
Factory edge16 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialPakkawood (wood/resin composite)
ProsVery sharp and extremely rust resistant

This set includes:

  • 4-inch Paring Knife
  • 5.5-inch Nakiri Knife
  • 6-inch U2 Ultimate Utility Knife
  • 6-inch Gokujo Boning/Fillet Knife
  • 6.5-inch Utility Knife
  • 7-inch Santoku Knife
  • 8-inch Chef’s Knife
  • 9-inch Bread Knife
  • 9.5-inch Slicing Knife
  • Four 5-inch Steak Knives
  • 9-inch Combination Honing Steel
  • 17 Slot Angled Knife Block

For something truly special you needn’t look any further than this incredible and extensive knife set by Shun.

Shun has a history dating back over 100 years in the Japanese knife-making super city of Seki. They are renowned not just in Japan, but around the world for the high quality craftsmanship of their knives.

Shun have gained a strong foothold in the western market by adapting their knives to the western norms, whilst keeping much about their design traditionally Japanese.

There aren’t many better examples of Shun’s mastery of knife manufacturing than this 15-Piece damascus steel knife set.

The knives use a VG-MAX steel, a specially formulated steel by Shun. VG-MAX is the perfect example of how Shun are aiming to appeal to the western market.

VG-MAX contains a much higher chromium content than traditionally found in Japanese knives, at around 16%. Chromium is the element that makes stainless steel rust resistant and with a content that rivals most high end german stainless steels it makes this Japanese steel extremely durable.

Combine that with the relatively high carbon content of 1.2% and it creates a blade that is super hard whilst remaining very durable and resistant to rust.

That hardness shows in the sharpness with a out of the factory edge of 16 degrees. That’s well on the sharper end of a typical western knife which generally range from 15 to 20 degrees. However; if you wished to, this quality of steel could easily be sharpened to a finer edge than that with a 12 degree edge certainly being achievable.

All the knives have a full tang into walnut PakkaWood handles. PakkaWood is a resin composite wood that is often used as the material for Japanese knife handles due to its strength and extreme durability, it also provides a nice, natural aesthetic to the knives.

This set includes a knife block, along with a honing steel in the same design. Having a honing steel of the same material as the knives is a bonus and will hone the knives more effectively.

Overall this extensive knife set by Shun is a fantastic option for those looking for a top-quality premium set of damascus knives.

It’s not cheap at first appearances, but if you looked to buy this number of damascus knives of similar quality separately you could easily spend twice this amount, so as an overall package this 15-Piece knife set does provide good value.

Shun Premier 7-Piece Essential Block Set (my top pick)

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Shun Premier 7-Piece Knife Block Set Review Table

Country of manufactureJapan
Steel typeVG-MAX (Durable and hard Japanese steel)
Rockwell hardnessHRC 61
Factory edge16 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialPakkawood (wood/resin composite)
ProsVery sharp and extremely rust resistant

This set includes:

  • 4-inch Paring Knife
  • 6.5-inch Utility Knife
  • 8-inch Chef’s Knife
  • 9-inch Serrated Bread Knife
  • 11 Slot Angled Knife Block

This is the second of three entries on this list from Shun. They get on three times because frankly they have done a fantastic job of offering knife sets at a range of price points but all using the high quality materials you would expect from Shun.

This set is just under half the size of their 15-Piece set and just under half the price. The big benefit though is that it includes what most would consider as the core set of kitchen knives. You could easily have most food preparation tasks covered by one of the four knives offered in this set.

So the price is more than half that of the 15-Piece set but in reality you can probably still do 90% of the tasks, and the quality of the materials used is the exact same.

VG-MAX steel is used for the blade, offering that fantastic balance of durability, improved by the high 16% chromium content, and hardness, offered by the 1.2% carbon content.

The knives are full tang and use the same walnut PakkaWood material for the handles making them extremely durable too.

This set also includes the very useful honing steel, in addition to a pair of scissors and a bamboo knife block.

If the price of the 15-Piece Shun set is too high but you still want top quality Japanese knives, with a striking damascus finish then this 7-Piece set would be my recommendation.

There is absolutely no reduction in quality in this set from the 15-Piece one, you just get fewer knives. But Shun has done a sensible job of choosing the most important knives and in reality the four knives in this set would easily cover 90% of tasks.

Miyabi 7-Piece Knife Block Set

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Miyabi 7-Piece Knife Block Set Review Table

Country of manufactureJapan
Steel typeSG2 power steel (Durable and hard Japanese steel)
Rockwell hardnessHRC 63
Factory edge12 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialMicarta (carbon fiber & thermoplastic composite)
ProsVery sharp and extremely rust resistant

This set includes:

  • 3.5-inch Paring Knife
  • 5-inch Utility Knife
  • 8-inch Chef’s Knife
  • 9.5-inch Bread Knife
  • 9-inch Tungsten Sharpening Steel
  • Kitchen Shears
  • 10-slot Bamboo Knife Block

Miyabi are another well-known Japanese knife manufacturer, although they are somewhat harder to get hold of in western markets than Shun knives.

This 7-piece set is in many ways similar to Shun’s 7-Piece set. The style of knives included are pretty much the same and the price it’s dissimilar either.

Therefore which you prefer will probably come down to your personal taste.

Miyabi use a SG2 steel for their knives. Sometimes known as SGPS, which is the exact same steel, SG2 is a powder steel that allows for a greater mix of alloy elements than most stainless steels.

It’s a quality Japanese steel but isn’t as common as many others. Like the VG-MAX of the Shun SG2 also has a good mix of hardness and durability. In fact, it’s rockwell hardness is better than Shun’s at 63, allowing it to be sharpened to an extremely fine edge of between 9 and 12 degrees.

That hardness is down to it’s higher carbon content. Unfortunately Miyabi don’t share the exact carbon content, but we know that SG2 contains anywhere between 1.25 – 1.45% carbon, meaning even at the lowest amount this is a very high carbon steel.

Where it differs slightly from Shun is in the chromium level. Again, we don’t know the exact amount Miyabi use but SG2 steel ranges from 14 – 16% chromium. Given these are high carbon knives I’d be willing to bet the chromium content is at the lower end of that range.

But in truth, it’s only a slight difference from the Shun knives (16% chromium), and steel only needs to be 10.5% chromium to be regarded as stainless, so these Miyabi knives will still offer a very strong level of rust resistance.

It’s hard to pick between this Miyabi set and the Shun 7-Piece set. I have a soft spot for Shun and that’s why it made my personal recommendation, but frankly the materials used in both these knife sets are of equal quality, they are even both made in the Japanese city of Seki, so ultimately it really comes down to personal taste.

Enso 7-Piece Knife Block Set

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Enso 7-Piece Knife Block Set Review Table

Country of manufactureJapan
Steel typeVG-10 (Durable and hard Japanese steel)
Rockwell hardnessHRC 61
Factory edge12 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialMicarta (Thermoplastic composite)
ProsVery sharp and extremely rust resistant

This set includes:

  • 3.25-inch Paring Knife
  • 6-inch Utility Knife
  • 6.5-inch Santoku Knife
  • 8-inch Chef’s Knife
  • 9-inch Bread Knife
  • Kitchen Shears
  • 6 Slot Slim Knife Block

Enso are another Japanese knife manufacturer based in Japan’s knife capital Seki.

Enso have been making knives in Seki since 1932 so they have a long pedigree in traditional Japanese knife making.

In this 7-Piece set you certainly get good value for money. It comes with five knives, each using VG10 steel.

VG-10 is a good balance between durability and hardness. It’s classed as a high carbon steel with a 1% carbon content, that makes the blade hard and allows for a sharper edge

The 15% chromium content is sufficient to make these blades very rust resistant, allowing for a quality high-carbon knife, as expected in Japanese steel, but still with many of the durability qualities of a western or german steel.

The carbon content isn’t quite as high as the Shun or Miyabi and the chromium is lower than Shun, but that is fairly reflected in the slightly lower price and a carbon content of 1% is still way above the standard western knife.

That carbon content allows for a very sharp edge of 12 degrees. As a comparison, many western knives will have a factory edge of 20 degrees so this is almost twice as fine as knives you might be used to.

The blades are full tang into the triple riveted handles. The handles are made from a material called micarta, a composite of linen, canvas, paper, fiberglass, carbon fiber or other fabric in a thermosetting plastic.

In all it makes for an extremely durable handle to add to the already durable blade.

This set also includes an attractive knife block available in acacia, grey or dark ash timber depending on your taste. A pair of scissors is also included but this set is really all about the knives. With five knives included that’s one more than the Shun and Miyabi 7-Piece sets, using a steel that’s almost as good.

Zelite Alpha-Royal Japanese Series 6-Piece Magnetic Block Set

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Zelite Alpha-Royal Japanese Series 6-Piece Set Review Table

Country of manufactureChina
Steel typeAUS-10 (High-quality Japanese steel)
Rockwell hardnessHRC 61
Factory edge12 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialG10 (fiberglass laminate)
ProsIncredible materials for a relatively low price

This set includes:

  • 8-inch Chef’s Knife
  • 8-inch Bread Knife
  • 7-inch Santoku Knife
  • 6-inch Gokujo Boning/Fillet Knife
  • 6-inch Utility Knife
  • 4-inch Paring Knife

For a more budget friendly approach to a damascus knife set you need to check out Zelite.

Zelite and new guys on the block in the knife world. They are a family owned American company that produces Japanese influenced knives but with a very western twist and always focusing on comfort.

They offer fantastic knives that have their own individual twist. They keep costs low by using quality material, mainly imported from Japan and Germany, but outsourcing the manufacture to China.

Usually having the ‘Made in China’ tag can be an indicator of cheap, low quality materials but with Zelite that isn’t the case, the materials they use are good quality, as I’ll discuss, and that results in a fine range of knives.

Ultimately, the savings that Zelite makes by outsourcing the manufacture to China are passed onto the consumer, and you’re able to get a high carbon, quality knife for much less than an equivalent quality Japanese manufactured knife.

Talking of those materials, the steel used is a AUS-10. It’s a high-carbon Japanese steel with a carbon content of around 1.1% making it very hard. The steel also has a chromium content of around 14% so it’s very rust resistant.

It’s a well renowned steel and is certainly in the same bracket as the far more expensive sets already mentioned on this list, which is due to the lower Chinese manufacturer costs Zelite use.

The blade edge can be sharpened to 12 degrees, with the standard factory edge being between 12 – 15 degrees, again this compares very well to the Japanese knives already mentioned.

The blades are full tang and double riveted into the handle. The handle material is a high quality fiberglass composite, so it’s light and extremely strong.

The knife block itself is unique in design, it’s a wooden, rotating block and the knives attach magnetically so they remain on display.

Overall this Zelite set provides a terrific range of six damascus knives using high quality materials that stands up against traditional Japanese manufacturers. As a result of the lower cost Chinese manufacture the price comes in at around $65 per knife, that’s not including any cost of the block.

Considering a single Japanese manufactured damascus knife using similar quality materials could easily cost $150 – $200 or more, I’d say that’s pretty good value.

Shun Classic 6-Piece Knife Block Set

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Shun Classic 6-piece Knife Block Set Review Table

Country of manufactureJapan
Steel typeVG-MAX (Durable and hard Japanese steel)
Rockwell hardnessHRC 61
Factory edge16 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialPakkawood (wood/resin composite)
ProsVery sharp and extremely rust resistant

This set includes:

  • 3.5-inch Paring Knife
  • 7-inch Santoku Knife
  • 8-inch Chef’s Knife
  • 9-inch Combination Honing Steel
  • Kitchen Shears
  • 8-slot Slim Design Dark Wood Knife Block

We’re back to the Shun knives now! This is the lowest priced Shun knife set on this list and the knives have a different appearance to the two previous sets but they are still made using the same high quality materials.

This Shun knife set is a little more understanding than the two previous, with a less striking damascus effect on the steel. Depending on your personal taste you may prefer that, or you might be going for the bold flowing water style of the earlier sets.

For all the difference in appearance the underlying steel used to make the blades is the same, VG-MAX. As I’ve mentioned earlier it’s a top quality Japanese steel used exclusively by Shun.

The carbon content of 1.2% makes it very hard and the 16% chromium content makes it extremely resistant to rust.

Once again the blade edge comes out of the factory at 16 degrees, which is sharp, but this standard of steel could be hand sharpened to a smaller angle of 12 degrees if you wanted to.

The blades are full tang into the PakkaWood handle, just like the two Shun sets previously. That adds to the overall strength and durability.

This set has the lowest number of knives on this list, with three. But that’s very much reflected in the price and considering they are made using the same base materials as the other two Shun sets on this list it still offers good value for money.

Also included is a very attractive dark stained wooden block and a pair of scissors.

Considering you would expect to pay between $150 – $200 for a Classic Shun 8 Inch chef’s knife if you bought it individually, this 6-Piece set is a great way to add quality, Japanese tools to your kitchen at a relatively low price.

Dalstrong Shogun Series X 5-Piece Knife Set

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Dalstrong Shogun Series X 5-Piece Knife Set Review Table

Country of manufactureChina
Steel typeAUS-10 (High-quality Japanese steel)
Rockwell hardnessHRC 61
Factory edge12 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialG10 (fiberglass laminate)
ProsIncredible materials for a relatively low price

This set includes:

  • 8-inch Chef Knife
  • 7-inch Santoku
  • 6-inch Utility Knife
  • 8-inch Bread Knife
  • 3.75-inch Paring Knife
  • 5 Slot Knife Block

Dalstrong are another fairly new company based in The United States, operating from Toronto.

To me they seem to have a similar base philosophy to Zelite, using Japanese ideas and influences and then merging them with some western knife design aspects.

The results are visually striking, highly practical knives, they have clearly visible Japanese influence but are very unique in their own way.

They are a good brand and feature regularly in my recommendations. This set is also the lowest prices damascus knife set I’m recommending in this list and offers great value for money.

How do they do this? Well, they do it the same way Zelite do, they use high quality, often Japanese materials, but the knives themselves are manufactured in China.

That keeps manufacturing costs low but you still get a quality, and truly damascus product at the end.

Like Zelite, Dalstong use the same AUS-10 steel. It’s a high carbon Japanese steel with a 1.1% carbon content and 14% chromium content.

The high carbon makes the blade hard allowing for a sharper edge, and the chromium content makes it very resistant to rust.

The blade is full tang into the fiberglass composite handle, it’s a material called G-10 and is again the same as used by Zelite.

The set also includes a very stylish wooden block made from Acacia wood. It’s a modern design which compliments the unique design of the knives themselves.

You get five knives in the set, and the price comes out at around $70 per knife, without attributing a cost to the block.

That’s a great price for real damascus knives made from high carbon Japanese steel, the savings made by Dalstong by using Chinese manufacture are clearly passed onto the customer.

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