Chinese cleaver fatigue

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oval99

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Nope, I’m not tired of Chinese cleavers, but they sure are tiring me! I’ve always loved my small CCK slicer (KF1303). It would be my daily driver if it weren’t carbon — I’m a home cook who wants low maintenance. And I wanted better stainless steel than the CCK stainless.

I now have a Sugimoto 4030 stainless. It’s shorter and less tall than their full-sized ones. And, most importantly, it only weighs about 12 ounces (only 2 ounces more than the CCK and way less heavy than the full-size Sugi).

Unfortunately, those extra ounces feel REALLY heavy. I’m getting forearm and some shoulder fatigue after about 10 minutes of prep. I use all the typical grips (inverted peace sign, pinch grip) and do mostly push or chopping cuts.

Is this something that will just take time to adjust to? Perhaps muscle memory will come to the rescue here in another week or so.

Anyone had similar experiences? Am I missing something?
 

Silky

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One thing that has helped me when I moved up to a full size Japanese cleaver is to let the knife do all of the work with the push cuts. I just bring the knife up, put it on what I want to cut, and move it forward through the cut. The only time I exert myself is to lift it up onto the food.
 

Keith Sinclair

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Used light and heavy cleavers Do not even think twice about it. That Suji 4030 is a good choice for a stainless veg. Cleaver. Just use it.
 

stringer

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It could be your posture. If your cutting board is too low then you tend to hunch over, point your face down, and drop your shoulders. If it's too high then you tend to hunch your shoulders up behind your neck. Make sure that you're in a nice relaxed position. Balls of your feet. Knees slightly bent. Shoulders relaxed. Let the length and weight do the work. Find a rhythm. Never hurry. After that it's just muscle memory and conditioning.
 

Matus

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I would naively think that with a knife 8 - 10 cm tall the cutting board is more likely to be too high for most what can indeed be tiring as it forces an awkward position of the wrist and forearm. But I am yet to try that myself with a cleaver (the height of the counter-top in our apartment is indeed a bit too high for me)
 

Benuser

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A few centimetres in counter height make the difference.
 

Matus

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A few centimetres in counter height make the difference.
We should be setting up a new kitchen eventually - I am starting to consider to have different parts of the counter top with different heights (say by 10cm or so). For anything but cutting I prefer taller counter top position. But I will come for an advice to a respective subforum when the time comes :)
 

HRC_64

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A few centimetres in counter height make the difference.
The fastest way to alter the height without sunken or built in tops
I suppose is standing on thicker mats?
 
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Noodle Soup

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What am I missing here? When I went looking for a 4030, they were all carbon steel not stainless? The first place that came up on a google search was "he who's name must not be spoken." :) I have a No. 7 and I would have to say the cladding rusts very easy.
 

Xenif

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A few things cometo mind.
Feet position relative to knife. So if you are facing shoulders parallel to the counter then knife should be pointing roughly at 10oclock. If you are pointing knife at 12, then you are rotating spine and not getting full leverage.
Arms close to the body as possible without feeling uncomfortable, again shorter distance away from you center of gravity, more leverage less muscles.
When pushing and slicing, stand a bit taller, make as much of a circular motion as possible using the curvature of the blade to cut.
When dicing chopping, stand closer, hunch down a bit more, more control.
Muscle memory, imho, takes longer than a week to kick in.
 

gman

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my first thought was also that it's not the weight of the cleaver that's the issue, it's the weight of your arm that you must lift higher, which you would feel mostly in your shoulder and neck. in that case, look for a lower board, or use a thick floor mat, or thicker shoes to get you up and over. the pain in your forearm could be a result of a weird wrist angle, which will also change with the relative position of your body to the handle.
 

jaybett

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Typically fatigue is a sign that cleaver is being manhandled. A cleaver needs to be guided. It's almost counter-intuitive but you are almost holding the cleaver up, while pushing the cleaver forward or pulling back for the cut. The movement is what cuts instead of pushing down into the vegetable. The cleaver is going down while the cut is being made, it is not being pushed into the vegetable. Imagine cutting the upper parts of green onions.

Fatigue can also be caused by gripping a cleaver to tightly. A cleaver is held between the forefinger and thumb. I've seen people use pinch grips, but I extend my forefinger down the face of the blade. The fingers around the handle should be loose. More to balance the blade then grip the handle. The peace grip is for doing finer work.

Jay
 

Dan P.

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I'm a bladesmith, not a cook, and these are observations on the use of hammers, not cleavers, so these points will hopefully apply to some degree, but may be totally irrelevant, but in my experience of hammer usage in my trade, fatigue can come from:
-Squeezing the handle
-Relying on one joint to do all the work
-Not giving enough thought and support to lifting the hammer, ie lifting with the wrist
-Trying to push the hammer through the work
-Not keeping your elbow tucked in

Hopefully of some help?
 

playero

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One thing that has helped me when I moved up to a full size Japanese cleaver is to let the knife do all of the work with the push cuts. I just bring the knife up, put it on what I want to cut, and move it forward through the cut. The only time I exert myself is to lift it up onto the food.
I do the same but pulling back
 

playero

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It also depends on the weight distribution and the handle type. I have some knives that after cutting some products my fingers hurt but on other knives there’s no problem
 

Customfan

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Variety (rotation) between different types of blades works for me....
 

silverneedle

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In my experience the thin ones at around 320g dont have the weight to fall through the food like one at 480g and so needs to be pushed through the food and the thin spine isnt nice on the fingers. Also veriety of techniques like you could chop a bit then if it gets a bit tiring rock cut a bit then switch back.
Also check if the tasks you are useing it for suit that type of knife . Would parer or a petty be better for part of the job and finish with the cleaver?
 
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boomchakabowwow

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I’m actually shocked how slow my CCK carbon is prone to rust. It’s my daily blade in the kitchen. I just honed it last night and it’s frightening at this point.

I keep a folded towel on the counter and wipe occasionally but ive lapsed and had no issues.
 

Noodle Soup

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So I ordered up a 4030 Sugimoto from Globe. A stainless Sugimoto seemed like a good thing but I guess I should have checked those dimensions a little closer. MY what a dainty little thing! Not really suited to serious Chinese cooking but it should make a good curry paste from scratch cutter I think. Time will tell. Does Sugimoto make any larger stainless cleavers?
 

Jville

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So I ordered up a 4030 Sugimoto from Globe. A stainless Sugimoto seemed like a good thing but I guess I should have checked those dimensions a little closer. MY what a dainty little thing! Not really suited to serious Chinese cooking but it should make a good curry paste from scratch cutter I think. Time will tell. Does Sugimoto make any larger stainless cleavers?
i havent seen a large stainless by sugimoto.
 

nonoyes

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Not a cleaver user but The Key to Chinese Cooking has a short section on different ways to grip and move a cleaver, and differing elbow and wrist actions, looks relevant to OP's question. I borrowed a digital copy on archive.org, pita because you need Adobe digital editions which kind of sucks. But hey it's a free way to read books. It will be available again in a couple of weeks or less when I check it back in.
 
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