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1st Pass-Around Effort . Cleaver Anyone ?

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Bill T

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Hey Guys , I was looking around a bit and I thought a cleaver would be a cool 1st effort . I don't see too many though , is there a reason ?

What I'd like to do is this :​
1) Get some input on what you guys think would make a good cleaver .​
2) Design , then construct said design .​
3) Do a Pass-around with it ( I'm thinking 5 guys ) .​
4) Then a possible Raffle / GAW .​

Part of the plan is to keep the steel a secret and have a little fun with it . I've got some of the best steel in the world from Aldo .​
I'd also like to try a Wa style handle . Do you think they go well with cleavers ?​

I really want to have some fun with this guys !​
Thanks , Bill​
 

tk59

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I think the reason you don't see cleavers is 1. a lot of people don't use them and 2. it's hard to get a consistent grind across the entire face of the blade. I wouldn't mind checking out a nice cleaver but if feedback is what you want, I probably wouldn't be a great choice since I have virtually no experience wielding them. I'm assuming you mean a chinese slicer as opposed to a meat cleaver.
 

Bill T

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Yes, definitely a Chinese slicer.
 

mainaman

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I would like to get in on that, I have used a bunch of cleavers and know what too look for in one.
 

Bill T

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What are some of your main concerns when selecting a cleaver?
 

mainaman

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If you are asking me, I like the cleaver to be in 420-450g range, the geometry has to be really good, it should not need to be thinned to improve performance.
Profile is important too, I like less belly. Steel has to be with good edge retention, it is cleaver and will see more banging than a knife.
 

Pensacola Tiger

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You need to get Andy777 in on this discussion, as well as in the passaround.
 

JohnnyChance

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I think TK is right. There aren't a lot of hardcore cleaver lovers, as most people prefer gyutos and sujis. And they are a chore for knife makers because it is a LOT of grinding and needs to be consistent. I like them flat, with a little belly on the first couple inches by the "tip" so I can still rock it if needed. And thin of course. I don't like them as big as some, somewhere around 8.5" x 3.75" is usually good for me. Not sure about the weight, but 350-420 gram range would prob be close, depending on what you use for a handle. I like stainless or low reactive carbon. If I have a ton of veg related prep at work, a cleaver would make quick work of it. But I can't have onions or cucumbers turning black on me after I have cut them, so semi or full stainless, or a low reactive carbon that behaves once patina-ed is necessary for me for a cleaver I can use at work.

I like wa-handles on cleavers, but shorter, fatter, and edges more rounded on normal wa handles. A barrel/wa handle hybrid would be awesome I think, like an octagonal handle that tapers on both ends and has smoother edges than traditional wa's.

If you do a passaround I would be interested in participating.
 

kalaeb

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That would be cool to be in on a cleaver pass around, but I simply don't have the cleaver experiance to give valuable input. +1 on getting Andy to do a review. From everything I have read he is THE cleaver guru.
 

WildBoar

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I'd like to log some cutting board time with the cleaver as well, but I am also lacking in cleaver experience so my main feedback would be how it works for me vs how it compares to other cleavers (although that may not entirely be a bad thing). I hope you decide to go through with this, as it sounds like it will be fun.
 

echerub

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If there's still space, I'd like to be in on a clever passaround.

I've been alternating through 3 different cleavers these past few weeks - I go through cycles on which of my knives I use most, and right now I think I'm in a cleaver cycle. I'm finding that balance and edge profile are making the biggest differences for me. All 3 have nice wa handles, but I remember when I used a CCK, even the little round wooden handle is fine. The handle on a cleaver, I feel, isn't a big deal.

I personally prefer a flatter edge profile on my cleaver. I haven't tried the Butch Harner style nakiri edge - flat at the back with slight tip curve - but it looks very interesting. As long as there's a healthy length of flat edge in the profile, I think I'd be happy. A gentle curve most of the way through would turn me off.

I really don't know how heavy or light my cleavers are. I'm guessing they're middle-of-the-road in the 400-500g range. They're in 220, 240 and 270 lengths, but they are pretty thin so weight-wise they're still quite comfortable. The conventional 220 length is perfectly good, I think.

Balance point doesn't affect how well I like to use the cleaver, but it does affect how quickly my hand "melds" with the cleaver in use, as it were.

As for edge retention... I don't think I'm any harder on a cleaver's edge than I am with a gyuto or nakiri. I don't think that needs to be a special concern just because it's a cleaver.

It would be really interesting to be in on a cleaver passaround :)

BTW, I think Andy777 needs to be on the passaround list. I'm one of those folks who wouldn't have delved into cleavers if it weren't for his influence :)
 

Bill T

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Some great feedback already. Any names for the actual passaround will be decided after I get started. I'm going to the ECG so I'd love to talk about this project there with anyone who'll listen.
 

EdipisReks

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I think the reason you don't see cleavers is 1. a lot of people don't use them and 2. it's hard to get a consistent grind across the entire face of the blade. I wouldn't mind checking out a nice cleaver but if feedback is what you want, I probably wouldn't be a great choice since I have virtually no experience wielding them. I'm assuming you mean a chinese slicer as opposed to a meat cleaver.
i'm in exactly the same boat.
 

RobinW

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I love using my cleavers (slicers), they really are very versatile.

Love to be in on the passaround and i'll come back on design thoughts soon.

Thanks

Robin
 

Potato42

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Whoa I don't know how I missed this discussion! For my preferences mainaman pretty much has it here

If you are asking me, I like the cleaver to be in 420-450g range, the geometry has to be really good, it should not need to be thinned to improve performance.
Profile is important too, I like less belly. Steel has to be with good edge retention, it is cleaver and will see more banging than a knife.
the weight of the cleaver (or chuckabocho) is really the important thing. There is a lot of variation on size but the feel of the knife is determined more by the overall weight, as well as shape and size of the handle than anything else. This is because most #6 slicing cleavers are nearly flat at the edge. A great grind and profile, and great distal taper makes for an excellent knife. I personally like something a tad shorter too, most #6 cleavers are around 220mm and 110mm tall, and I like 210mm and 100mm tall. This allows for a moderately lighter knife for the same profile and taper and I don't really miss 10mm of usable edge that much.

I think the temper is extremely important too. A lot of guys around here like really hard knives, but I think it's a mistake to make a cleaver as hard as you would a suji or gyuto because it is expected it will be whacking the cutting board occasionally depending on how you're cutting. I usually use push/pull cuts myself, but a cleaver lends itself so well to chopping that sometimes you just need to let the knife do it's thing. :)

For a handle I like the shorter, fatter and stubbier western style handles rather than the wa. I would study the handles "Fish" did back in the day on cleavers for the perfect design. Another possibility is a turned handle, like what you see on CCK cleavers, but finished to a much higher level. I think they're plenty comfy in hand, but they stain easily during sharpening and they're ugly as a ken onion shun. Ok maybe not that ugly, but they're not pretty ;)
 

echerub

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Hmm... it's interesting to hear how a different user finds the handles to make a big difference :) For me, a shaped handle - though cosmetically very nice - wouldn't make any difference in terms of handling and might even be a detriment.

I did some poking around, because I don't have a scale handy here, and I think my cleavers are around the 400g mark. The big one might be a bit more, but from what I can find the 220 and 240 are just around 400g. They do feel different though due to a difference in balance.

For me, a tall height is a really good thing. Even with gyuto, I prefer taller ones. I don't know if I'd miss a 10mm difference in a cleaver size, but I certainly don't mind a taller
 

Potato42

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I hear ya on the handles Len, honestly I don't think it's of much importance on a cleaver either. For me when I grip a cleaver, the only part of my hand that really comes in contact much with the handle is the upper part of my palm below my ring and pinky fingers. My thumb and index finger rest on the blade and my middle finger wraps underneath the handle or joins my index finger. Even though this is the case I find I like a taller handle when viewing the profile from the side, and fatter also seems more comfortable. I like stubby because it just seems to look right proportionally, and because of the balance being kept forward.
 

Eamon Burke

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I think that because they have made themselves this way, cleavers tend to take up a rather inexpensive slot in the knife market. There are higher-end cleavers, but only a few of us(and that's saying something) know much about them.
 

Bill T

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Some thoughts on this ..
Cleaver with distal taper .. ? I don't want to make just a sharpened slab ..​
Thickness - I was going to start with steel .103" or 2 1/2 mm at its thickest .​
And what about the front ? I've seen them use that part to descale fish , but what about veggies ? Flat , convex or concave ?​
 

echerub

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In terms of distal taper, one of my cleavers goes from 3.5mm to 1mm. Another one goes from just under 2.5mm to just under 1mm. I find that these work nicely, but I don't have a particular preference for one over another. I never thought about it much, but I'm sure the distal taper is part of the reason why nice cleavers feel nice to use - sorry I'm not a lot of help on this particular factor.

Rounding off the front (convex) is nice, but flat is fine. I use the front to scoop, and have not used it to descale fish. I use something other than my cleavers for fish. However, since you mention that, flat on the front edge might be more multipurpose.

I'm curious to see what the others report :)
 

JohnnyChance

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Distal taper is common on cleavers, even though you arent working with the tip like a gyuto or suji.

Your suggested thickness sounds pretty good. And the thinner you can keep it behind the edge the better. Let the upper half of the blade account for the majority of the taper.

Like was mentioned before, the handle doesn't have to be the most ergonomic thing ever. Short, fat and stubby seems to look the best proportionally. And the grip most used has the thumb, fore finger, and middle finger on the blade, with just the ring finger and pinkie on the handle, so the balance point can be pretty far in front of the handle.
 

Bill T

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This was some awesome feedback . Thank you all so much , I really appreciate the help !
 

Bill T

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Ok Guys , I'm almost ready to cut steel with this project .
From what I've read in the feed back and looked at on the internet , this is what I'm leaning toward as the specs on the cleaver .​
1) Length - 220mm​
2) Height - 100mm​
3) Thickness -2.5mm@ thickest w/distal taper to (hopefully) 1mm​
4) Handle - Wa style​
5) Edge - Flat , except for a minor bit of belly (25mm or so) at heel and tip .​

If there are any changes you think should be considered , please let me know . After all , it is for you ..​

Thanks again for all of your input and interest .​
Bill​
 

Bill T

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One more question. . . Should the bevel be 50/50 or something else?
 

Potato42

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Your specs 1-5 sound pretty good to me, though I think I'd generally prefer a western handle. I haven't really heard of any asymmetrically beveled cleavers, I think you'd want 50/50 and nice and thin behind the edge. Are you going to post WIP pics? I can't wait to see it.:wink:
 

Bill T

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What I meant was the curvature would be from heel 25mm and the same at tip . The amount of lift to the curve would only be 1 mm or so. If that's good ?
 

JohnnyChance

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Specs sound good. You might be able to go a little higher than 1mm on the belly, especially near the tip. Grind the 1mm belly into it, then put it on a cutting board and see how it feels.

I actually like some belly on the tip and very little or none at the heel.

And great talking to you on saturday!
 

Rottman

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I haven't really heard of any asymmetrically beveled cleavers, I think you'd want 50/50 and nice and thin behind the edge.
I have a Suien VC and it is pretty much ground 70/30 or thereabout like a righty gyuto, the left side pretty much flat and the right side more convex (too bad I'm a lefty:razz:).
 
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