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Thread: Newbie Sharpening advice needed: Cleaver/Chuka

  1. #1

    Newbie Sharpening advice needed: Cleaver/Chuka

    I'm a newbie sharpener looking some advice or tips on how to hold a cleaver when sharpening.

    I've watched a bunch of videos online on freehand sharpening but very few of them most of them involve either a petty or a gyuto.
    I was wondering if anyone had any advice on how to hold a cleaver both in terms of angle of approach to the stone and keeping a constant angle..

    This is particularly a problem for me when trying to sharpen the left side of the knife, as I am right handed,
    I'm changing my angle a lot due to the increased height of the knife..

    I know that there's a "two penny angle" recommended sharpening angle for gyutos.. anyone out there able to give me a guideline as to how high I should be holding my knife off my stone?

  2. #2
    I think this one's a tough one to describe. Don't bother using the penny stack method for your angle - the cleaver's big profile height means the spine is going to end up quite a bit higher off "level" by quite a bit.

    My hand position is different when sharpening a cleaver as compared to almost anything else, simply because of the greater profile height.It's not as relaxed a hand position, but beyond that all I can really say is you're gonna have to just keep trying and go slowly. You'll find a way to hold it that will let you keep a consistent angle on the stone.

    Whereabouts in Canada are you?

  3. #3
    Oh hey, you're in Toronto!

    We could meet up sometime and I could show you what works for me.

  4. #4
    How far off the stone the spine of the cleaver is when you're sharpening will vary depending on how wide the blade of your cleaver is, so rules of thumb for distance don't get you too far. What I did was to cut a couple of wood wedges showing the desired angle (I made them 15 degrees). So, by placing them under the knife on the stone, I can get a visual on what that angle looks like. Once you get get it in your head, you won't need to use the wedges much.

  5. #5
    Or, to feel when you're getting the angle that's already there, tilt up the spine slowly until you can't feel a "ridge" between stone and knife when you push your thumbnail up against the edge. When your thumbnail just slides smoothly from stone and up the face of the knife, then you've got the right angle to hit the edge.

  6. #6
    Senior Member zitangy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    COntrol of the blade, strokes and downward pressure is the objective here.

    Whatever way of holding as long as you can achieve the above. For me...

    a) Left Side of knife.. Edge facing away..

    (i) RIght hand thumb on the spine and fingers gripping the handle with the thumb balancing and control the blade.

    (ii) Left hand.. thumb also on spine and the fingers on the edge of knife to exert teh downward pressure

    b)Right side of knife.. Edge towards you..

    (i) Right thumb on edge and fingers still on the handle.
    (ii)Left hand.. thumb on blade near edge and fingers controlling the spine pulling the blade towards you.

    Downward pressure by the two thumbs.

    Fingers/ thumb closest to stone can act as angle guide or max lowest angle.

    Distance between left and right hand on knife.. Whatever that affords more control..... whatever you are most comfortable with and also gives you full control of the blade an pressure. IF you are not comfortable and causes strian on your wrists.. something is not right.

    DO what it takes to abrade steel with full control of pressure, angle and strokes. ..

    have fun.


  7. #7
    I find that I have to keep some muscle tension with my holding hand when it comes to cleavers. I go edge towards me on the outside (right side) as I do with all knives and then edge away on the inside (left side).

    When doing the outside, I've got my thumb and forefinger forming a V, forefinger on the spine, thumb just ahead of the choil about 2/3 of the way down towards the edge. Generally my "grip" on the cleaver compared to other knives is a bit rotated to the left side of the knife/handle.

    When doing the inside, I've got my forefinger and middle finger doing a peace sign on the blade face on top, much like I would in-use.

    Left hand/fingers doing what they do for any knife in terms of putting a bit of pressure just above the edge. Distance between my left and right hands depends on where I am working on the cutting edge

  8. #8
    If you want to keep the side of the cleaver pretty you can hang it off the side of the stone while figuring out the angle.

    I sharpen lengthwise on the stone as seen in the pictures below.

    What angle? Who cares! Grind from the top of the current edge bevel down towards the edge to form a burr - repeat on the other side. No angle number required.
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    New Zealand
    When I'm thinning my cleaver on the left side I hold it with my right hand on the spine, parallel to the stone with the handle facing away from me. Basically with the handle on the opposite side (top) in Dave's drawing. It's weird but it helps to hold a consistent angle. For actual sharpening I hold it like a gyuto.

  10. #10
    Thanks for the awesome advice everyone.. will give it another go soon!

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