Been a while since we had a Cleaver chat.

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pownedju

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I’ve only seen a small size of the Nakagawa cleaver. Besides custom makers, the only Japanese maker I know off the top of my head making cleavers with really “showy” handles is Takeshi Saji out of Echizen (and maybe Yu Kurosaki). One of his Damascus cleavers with ironwood handle will run you about a grand though. Here’s a video of a guy using one at a more upscale joint.

Oh wow. His stuff is incredibly showy (not a huge damascus fan myself though), and he even makes some from R2, which is my personal favorite. I wonder how well it performs for $1500. Do you know of anyone else using R2 for cleavers, or how I would go about finding a maker that has access to R2? Currently going through a western maker for my first custom, so there is a high chance it won't be made from any Japanese steel unless he happens to source some between now and my production date.
 

tostadas

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Oh wow. His stuff is incredibly showy (not a huge damascus fan myself though), and he even makes some from R2, which is my personal favorite. I wonder how well it performs for $1500. Do you know of anyone else using R2 for cleavers, or how I would go about finding a maker that has access to R2? Currently going through a western maker for my first custom, so there is a high chance it won't be made from any Japanese steel unless he happens to source some between now and my production date.
Yoshimi Kato does. Well maybe not a full size cleaver, but they're "tall nakiri" so sorta like a mini cleaver. Havent personally tried one though.
 
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I’m usually not a fan of unconventional grind but the LaSeur is really nice, cuts on par with anything from my kit. F&F is great, the handle is easily one of the best in all my knives and the saya is just beautiful. One thing I really love is how stiff the whole thing is, it is monosteel aeb-l at 62, which really is a great steel for cleaver. Much much more stiff than Takeda I had, and stiffer than CCK1302 too, I wouldn’t have to worry about anything when chopping.
Only thing I’m still skeptical is still the grind tho, im not sure how well it will aid in food release, from a short carrot and potato cutting session it did well but the flat side do have some stiction. The food separation is exceptional, as easy as 1302 which is no small feat consider the grind. If I have the chance I would love order a convention cleaver with slightly different spec from LaSeur.
66F6531F-2C59-4F41-B1B7-EA1784F2A014.jpeg

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Do you have a link to any of his stuff? I couldn’t find it with a little Googling.
He’s mostly doing domestic market atm so sadly there are not many information out there, here’s a video.

He sell mostly on TaoBao tho recently he got shadow banned for some stupid reason, he also do wechat through his partner.
【淘宝】https://m.tb.cn/h.U7uH1EB?tk=idHeddqS1oo CZ3457
Here’s some video of his stuff in action
新国作中式冷锻黑打大片刀,钢芯为钴合金,自己最后一把中式刀了,玩过的一些些都出掉了,最后觉得好用及好看的就留下了陈枝记碳钢菜刀泛用,新国那两把大片刀偶尔纯切。_哔哩哔哩_bilibili
新国作 中式220大片刀 m390_哔哩哔哩_bilibili
 
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In/from/to some countries/platforms/shippers. Some places classify them as weapons. Don't know if that's the case here. But I've seen makers discussing the issue lately.
At least in China knife over 220mm and have a tip angle less than 60 degrees would be considered regulated blade no matter the purpose, that’s why you see why so many Chinese companies put a protractor next to their knives. The law is not applies very strictly at least on custom makers but it did make a way for TaoBao/Ali to racketeering small sellers.
 

cotedupy

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I was in a Chinese supermarket yesterday stocking up on industrial quantities of Laoganma (in Chinatown you can get catering size jars!), and thought I ought buy a new cleaver as well, to really emphasise how serious I was about the whole affair. And not just any cleaver, I bought a Shibazi, so now I too can have opinions...

They actually had both a CCK cleaver at £78, and a metal handled Leung Tim at 40 quid , but I have quite a few from those brands already. And my new Shibazi cost £11 (!)

View attachment 194317


It's 195mm x 95 in the middle and 90 at the toe and heel. Which is right at the very bottom end of what we can reasonably call a cleaver, anything smaller is just a glorified nakiri, and really one would want something larger. @BillHanna knows where it's at.

It's also stainless (40CR13); the first stainless knife I've ever bought, but they only had one model, so it is what it is.

The fit and finish is extremely good, wildly better than any cleaver I've bought before, with the exception of the Tinker Tank, if that counts. They've done a 'sandblasted' kasumi effect on it, which actually doesn't look too bad in person tbh, though will probably get completely ruined if I try to thin it.

View attachment 194318


And the handle is really nice, the whole thing has been put together extremely well. I have zero idea how anyone is making money on this, especially given I bought it from a shop bang in the middle of central London.

View attachment 194316


It's about 2mm thick at the spine, with no distal taper, and a grind that's chunky in comparison to CCK and LT. Which isn't something I mind personally, I can't be doing with namby-pamby, wafer-thin cai dao. The full tang handle also adds to the reassuring heft and solidity.

View attachment 194314


View attachment 194315


It isn't sharp, they never are. But I will report back once I've put and edge on and given it a spin. Assuming the steel's alright I think I'll probably get along with it nicely.

Also it was £11. Eleven.


I set myself a little challenge for fun recently, to see how good I could make my £11 Shibazi caidao using only stuff that also cost next to nothing. I have here; a cheap no-name SiC Coarse n Fine, a piece of 400 grit sandpaper, and some 3-in-1 oil:

IMG-2735.jpg



The handle of the knife is really quite nice straight out the box, so I just sanded it lightly and oiled at the end.

Something that certainly needed looking at was rounding the choil and spine, which were quite sharp and would've been extremely uncomfortable in a pinch grip. I can't remember who it was, but someone here recently recommended using a stone for this rather than sandpaper. This was the first time I'd tried it and it works a charm. A few mins on the coarse side of the SiC stone has got the edges to a much nicer, more comfortable state:

IMG-2737.JPG



The big thing though was thinning and removing some of the very pronounced belly from the profile, and taking off the slightly tacky, fake sandblasted kasumi.

Out the box the knife was actually very fat behind the edge - worse than it looked initially, to the extent I would've called it unusable as a slicing cleaver. I like my caidao to have a little bit of heft but this was something else, and required quite considerable material removal to get to the pics below, and I did it differentially so it's thinner at the front (1st pic) than the back (2nd pic). This is what it looked like off the coarse side, I did a little more on the fine side after:

IMG-3059.jpg


IMG-3064.jpg



I'd forgotten how annoying cheap stainless can be to thin, so that took about an hour. And cheap SiC stones are often a little bit soft, so without fancy equipment my stone needed to be flattened the old fashioned way:

IMG-2744 (1).jpg



Took out some of the belly while I was thinning so the knife does now have some flat part to the profile, though I'll probably flatten it further during future sharpening sessions too.

So last up before sharpening an edge on is the aesthetic finish. The thinning has obviously removed the sandblasted kasumi, but has left some deep grind marks, and I also want to get rid of a the laser etched Shibazi kanji logo up near the spine/handle, and go for a uniform brushed steel kinda appearance.

Usually I'd do this with a coarse sanding progression, but I've only got 400 grit for my challenge which isn't going to cut it, so I needed to experiment, and see if I could turn the softness of my stone to an advantage. I soaked it in water for a while to soften it a bit further and then used the fine side in-hand to try to sand out some of the scratches and 'polish' the blade, before finishing with the 400 grit WnD. I'd still recommend a sanding progression for it, but in a pinch this method does work it turns out. I still have a few deeper scratch marks, especially up near the beginning of the bevel, but in general I think this looks acceptable, and I can't really be bothered with the faff of trying to get the all out:

IMG-3120.JPG



Then it's just putting an edge on with my trusty, and now somewhat thinner, SiC combi, and trying it out...

It'll zing through normal paper and doesn't do badly on paper towel, though this isn't the cleanest of cuts. And it's great on food; will do proper paper thin garlic and ginger slices, and just generally slay all manner of veg prep.

IMG-3233.jpg







---

All in all I'm rather pleased with the outcome, I think it hits that nice caidao sweet spot where it's not so delicate that you need to worry about it, and yet will still do fine work well. I also think it looks a helluva lot nicer now than it did before. :)

IMG-3124.jpg
 
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HumbleHomeCook

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I set myself a little challenge for fun recently, to see how good I could make my £11 Shibazi caidao using only stuff that also cost next to nothing. I have here; a cheap no-name SiC Coarse n Fine, a piece of 400 grit sandpaper, and some 3-in-1 oil:

View attachment 212200


The handle of the knife is really quite nice straight out the box, so I just sanded it lightly and oiled at the end.

Something that certainly needed looking at was rounding the choil and spine, which were quite sharp and would've been extremely uncomfortable in a pinch grip. I can't remember who it was, but someone here recently recommended using a stone for this rather than sandpaper. This was the first time I'd tried it and it works a charm. A few mins on the coarse side of the SiC stone has got the edges to a much nicer, more comfortable state:

View attachment 212201


The big thing though was thinning and removing some of the very pronounced belly from the profile, and taking off that nasty fake sandblasted kasumi.

Out the box the knife was exceptionally fat behind the edge, to the extent I would've called it unusable as a slicing cleaver. I like my caidao to have a little bit of heft, but this was something else and required quite considerable material removal to get to the pics below, and I did it differentially so it's thinner at the front (1st pic) than the back (2nd pic). This is what it looked like off the coarse side, I did a little more on the fine side after:

View attachment 212204

View attachment 212203


I'd forgotten how annoying cheap stainless can be to thin, so that took about an hour. And cheap SiC stones are often a little bit soft, so without fancy equipment my stone needed to be flattened the old fashioned way:

View attachment 212207


Took out some of the belly while I was thinning so the knife does now have some flat part to the profile, though I'll probably flatten it further during future sharpening sessions too.

So last up before sharpening an edge on is the aesthetic finish. The thinning has obviously removed the sandblasted kasumi, but has left some deep grind marks, and i also want to get rid of a the laser etched Shibazi logo up near the handle, and go for a uniform brushed steel kinda appearance.

Usually I'd do this with a coarse sanding progression, but I've only got 400 grit for my challenge which isn't going to cut it, so I needed to experiment, and see if I could turn the softness of my stone to an advantage. I soaked it in water for a while to soften it a bit further and then used the fine side in-hand to try to sand out some of the scratches and 'polish' the blade, before finishing with the 400 grit WnD. I'd still recommend a sanding progression for it, but in a pinch this method does work it turns out. I still have a few deeper scratch marks, especially up near the beginning of the bevel, but in general I think this looks acceptable, and I can't really be bothered with the faff of trying to get the all out:

View attachment 212206


Then it's just putting an edge on with my trusty, and now somewhat thinner, SiC combi, and trying it out...

It'll zing through normal paper and doesn't do badly on paper towel, though this isn't the cleanest of cuts. And it's great on food; will do proper paper thin garlic and ginger slices, and just generally slay all manner of veg prep.

View attachment 212202


View attachment 212214



---

All in all I'm rather pleased with the outcome, I think it hits that nice caidao sweet spot where it's not so delicate that you need to worry about it, and yet will still do fine work well. I also think it looks a helluva lot nicer now than it did before. :)

View attachment 212205

Awesome post!
 
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At least in China knife over 220mm and have a tip angle less than 60 degrees would be considered regulated blade no matter the purpose, that’s why you see why so many Chinese companies put a protractor next to their knives. The law is not applies very strictly at least on custom makers but it did make a way for TaoBao/Ali to racketeering small sellers.
On a return trip from Thailand a few years ago I was stopped in the Shanghai airport and my luggage searched. They confiscated three jungle knives with blades around 10-inches in length. I also had a 10-inch chef knife and large Chinese cleaver (220?) but they said those were ok to keep. Frankly, the chef knife would make a better weapon than the jungle knives but I was not up to arguing with about 25 Chinese cops at 2:30 in the morning.
 
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On a return trip from Thailand a few years ago I was stopped in the Shanghai airport and my luggage searched. They confiscated three jungle knives with blades around 10-inches in length. I also had a 10-inch chef knife and large Chinese cleaver (220?) but they said those were ok to keep. Frankly, the chef knife would make a better weapon than the jungle knives but I was not up to arguing with about 25 Chinese cops at 2:30 in the morning.
The law is very tricky and really depends on what part they want to enforce at the moment.
 
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The law is very tricky and really depends on what part they want to enforce at the moment.
I will never travel through Shanghai again as I was not allowed to check my luggage straight through from Thailand to my destination. It had to be rechecked which meant going through the metal detectors. Ding, Ding, Ding, this guy has a bunch of big knives all wrapped up for safe travel. Actually, I have no plans to go to China again either with all their covid restrictions and lock downs.
 
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Getting some knives from a group of Chinese rural smith, they use Chinese equivalent of 52100 cladded in 410 stainless, usually at 59-63 range. Hopefully I can get my hands on those soon. They cost around $30 with custom request.
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Sounds good. Thin vegetable cleavers can have hard steel. Medium & esp. bone cleavers softer steel is better. Softer mono Carbon heavy cleavers are best Easy to reshape the dents to a repeated sharp. Used both stainless & carbon at work, my carbons liked best for chicken bones.

I've seen non Chinese cleavers medium & heavy made with 60+ hrt steel. I made mistake of buying one even splitting hard lobster shells chipped the edge big time.
 
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Sounds good. Thin vegetable cleavers can have hard steel. Medium & esp. bone cleavers softer steel is better. Softer mono Carbon heavy cleavers are best Easy to reshape the dents to a repeated sharp. Used both stainless & carbon at work, my carbons liked best for chicken bones.

I've seen non Chinese cleavers medium & heavy made with 60+ hrt steel. I made mistake of buying one even splitting hard lobster shells chipped the edge big time.
Depends on the steel I guess, 52100 and Abe-l at 60s should still have better toughness than a lot of others.
 
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