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View Full Version : How do you sharpen a meat cleaver?



gic
01-17-2013, 08:40 PM
I was wondering if the more experienced folks would give me some advice on how (what angle and how high a grit) I should use to sharpen my traditional (read massive 1 lb or so) 7" restaurant grade stainless steel meat cleaver (i.e. bought for $20 or so at a local restaurant supply store - brand is called Update if that helps.

I have an edge pro and it should be able to do whatever you guys suggest, I'm just at a loss as to what angles to use etc to obtain best performance for its intended function. The OOB edge of course is dull as can be but I wouldn't expect a meat cleaver to have a super sharp edge - or should it??

Thanks

quantumcloud509
01-17-2013, 08:50 PM
I dont know much about cleavers, but from my personal experience, meat cleavers do not need that lazer sharp edge the knuts are looking for, Im not saying that My cleavers are dull by any means, but seeing that you will probably end up chopping a lot, and probably hitting a bone or ten, you wouldnt want too thin of an edge on that thing as it will fold. Way to start a cleaver collection though they look great hanging on the wall and people just dont mess with you much when you have a gang load of cleavers with you everywhere you look!!! Good luck.

sachem allison
01-17-2013, 10:30 PM
send it to Bernal Cutlery if you are in San Francisco, they'll sharpen it for you. I have a 39" hog splitter with a 14" blade that you can shave with all day long. I wouldn't fine dice an onion with it but, hogs, zombies and various other critters no problems.

gic
01-17-2013, 10:36 PM
Oh know having somebody do it for me wouldn't be any fun at all, I want to do all my own sharpening now that I have an edge pro :- )

tomsch
01-17-2013, 10:51 PM
I have a vintage cleaver collection that includes to >35" beef splitters. The one I use the most is a 6" Foster Bros that I reprofiled to 19 degrees per side. Very tough edge and will still clean the hair off my arm. My Edge Pro is the best solution for the cleavers I use.

l r harner
01-17-2013, 10:52 PM
i did ryans lamb splitters for him and thy got crazy sharp with th heavy convexed edge (went to 9 micron and then CROX loaded felt belt to strop )
http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/fbbuploads/1192503888-cleavernew.jpg

cheezit
01-17-2013, 11:52 PM
(went to 9 micron and then CROX loaded felt belt to strop )
http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/fbbuploads/1192503888-cleavernew.jpg

Looks great! Since cleavers aren't meant for fine cutting tasks that require an ultra fine edge, 9 micron (1000 grit) is as far as I go, too. To the OP - I'd recommend sharpening it at an angle you think is acceptable, use it, and see how it performs. If the edge chips, no big deal, sharpen the primary edge back to where the edge chipped and now you're at a perfect equilibrium between edge thickness and edge performance.

Dave Martell
01-18-2013, 12:05 AM
Cleavers are no fun at all to sharpen on stones but it's doable with enough persistence and pain applied. :D

Once (only once) I did a cleaver like an axe where I clamped the blade in a vise and used a file and stones in hand and this was better than doing it in reverse but it still sucked.

IMO, the best way is by belt grinder.

l r harner
01-18-2013, 12:06 AM
and the thing is the bevel was not thin like a reg. knife
i highly done edge at 90degrees can still cut you badly and chop like a champ i didnt check the edge angle but i can bet that you can make a 45 total angle and get the best of both worlds (jsut dont plan on thin sliceds)

l r harner
01-18-2013, 12:07 AM
your a better amn then me dave as i woudl never thing of attempting a hand honed edge on one of those beasts \

Cleavers are no fun at all to sharpen on stones but it's doable with enough persistence and pain applied. :D

Once (only once) I did a cleaver like an axe where I clamped the blade in a vise and used a file and stones in hand and this was better than doing it in reverse but it still sucked.

IMO, the best way is by belt grinder.

Dave Martell
01-18-2013, 12:09 AM
your a better amn then me dave as i woudl never thing of attempting a hand honed edge on one of those beasts \

I was stupid. :D

zitangy
01-18-2013, 01:26 AM
Hi
I do enjoy it once in a while... Wider knives ae easier to handle than a narrow knives for me as I find that I can have better control.

a) holding it way that you have better control and pressure is the key. Cant hold it the way when you sharpen say a slicer or "narrow" gyuto. For me.. the thumb is along the spine and fingers across the body of cleaver. THumb controls the angle of sharpening and also the push forward motion. Finger is for downward pressure .I also use this method for any wide knife as i imagine that it does give me better control. In my earlier days, thumb was also used to control the height of knife against stone adn thus the sharpening angle; so I imagine.


b)When thinning is required, I bring the stone to the knife. The knife is place flat on a piece of wood parallel strokes is OK with me as I am still thinning it after which I will do an angled sweeping stroke across the edge ( stone moving away from edge) pr alternatively, stone moving towards spine motion ( like a fiddle, both method) as I believe that the striations shld be angled to the edge and not parallel. A thin or worn out stone with a base wld be ideal.. definitely not a brick as it wld be too heavy.

Note. Safety must be considered all the time.

c) as mentioned.. A belt sander is always fun for this.

Angle> I believe that an axe is sharpened at 35 degrees each side. Depending on the task and thickness of the edge as worn out edges becomes thicker, I wld assume that anywhere between 20 degrees adn 35 degrees shld be fine.. I also like my big, secondary bevel highly polished.

Being a home cook, hardest thing that I wack wld be a young coconut. So that are all sharpened at 20 degrees there abt

So check out the thumb action :thumbsup: if you have not tried it. :thumbsup:

see what I mean?

Have fun.

D

Cascadification
01-18-2013, 06:05 AM
What does the edge look like on your cleaver? If there are chips or damage anywhere, use a belt grinder to repair the edge. If the edge is uniform and you are just trying to improve its sharpness use sandpaper on a wood block. Start with 320 and work your way up to 1500. This is how I finish the blade and edge of my cleavers and the last one I sold would slice phonebook paper with no catching or tearing at all. My cleaver is also O1 though and takes a keen edge even at 60 degrees.

It will be time consuming, but the result you're seeking is worth the effort.

gic
01-18-2013, 09:58 AM
No chips cause it is new, no sharp edge either cause it is a cheap restaurant store mystery steel. But based on what I've read it does seem like it is worth doing at say a 42 degree angle up to say 600 on the edge pro OEM stones....

DWells
01-18-2013, 12:33 PM
Would that 42* be inclusive, or one side? If just one side, I would say you could drop that in half. Due to the thickness of the spine (just a presumption here), the amount of mass in the edge will protect it from folding/chipping when compared to a similar 40*-45* inclusive edge on a softer German chef's.

sudsy9977
01-18-2013, 04:57 PM
butch...those r two of the few cleavers i never sold...they r awesome....and if i remember correctly the main reason dave switched to using gator belts.....your welcome dave!.....ryan

gic
01-18-2013, 10:33 PM
21 each side, I'm still confuse don how one describes angles for knives. I s there a more or less standard convention of using 1/2 the total angle the blade makes for a symmetric ground knife??....

keithsaltydog
01-19-2013, 02:12 AM
I like a convex polished edge.Meat cleavers are thick behind the edge,so the convex edge is wider than a gyuto. a big heavy meat cleaver I use the palm of my hand down by the edge.Gotta be sharp so clean cut thru bone instead of splintering.A slight forward chop cut.