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Has anyone ever heard of manufacturer Sawaguchi Bussan?

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birdsfan

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Just bought a cheap cleaver on auction to play with. The Kanji on the side translated to Sawaguchi bussan . Just wondering what I bought. Blade is definately carbon, not stainless, and the Kanji makes me think it was manufactured in Japan not China. That is of course an assumption. Any insight would be appreciated. I plan to re-handle etc.
 

birdsfan

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Surprisingly....my cleaver came in the mail yesterday. Pretty impressive from Japan. So as earlier stated, I bought this as a project, and to play with using a cleaver. Can anyone tell me anything about it?

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ojisan

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It appears 澤口物産撰. The last character 撰 means "select(ed)".
Usually "bussan" is used for those who work on importing/exporting business, so I guess Sawaguchi Bussan is not the manufacturer of the knife. It could be a knife they imported, or just a novelty item.
It seems there was a company with that name in Ibaraki, but they were closed already.
 

birdsfan

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Thank you very much Ojisan! I had higher hopes for it, but when I cracked the handle off I could already tell it was cheaply made. It is definately carbon steel, but the tang was poorly tack welded to the blade. Well it will be fun to practice on.
 

birdsfan

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It is pretty hefty, though I have never used a cleaver, meat or veg. So it is hard for me to give relative comparisons. It is just around 5 am here and I just got up. I will take some measurements when I go down to play with it today.

I whole heartedly agree, it will be cool to work on. It was $40 on ebay, which was probably too much considering Ojisan's insight, as it may be a cheap Chinese knock-off. I will still remove the pitting, polish it up, put a new handle on it and give it a decent edge and see if I like using cleavers.
 

ma_sha1

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as it may be a cheap Chinese knock-off
Sounds a bit harsh, & unjustifiable given that the knife is called “Chinese Clever“. Cheap yes, most Chinese cleavers are cheap, but knock-off from what?

How could Chinese knock-off it’s own cleaver, it’s Chinese to begin with?
 

birdsfan

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Lol......Point well taken ma_sha. I withdrawl the unjustified "knock-off" label and only levy a "poorly made", potentially "sub-par steel" label. All that being said, it will still be treated with love and care.

Who knows, it may well become my new favorite blade.
 

cotedupy

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TBH the f&f look as good or better than most of the Chinese cleavers I've seen, and indeed the ones I own. And I really like the ones I have.

I think you've got a pretty nice deal there! Would be happy to take it off your hands if it's not for you... ;)
 

ma_sha1

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You are a true gentleman birdsfan 👍. & I see lots of potential in this solid chunk of carbon steel.

If the weakest link is the welding point of the tang, you could potentially mitigate the risk by cutting a slot on the blade under the tang, and extend a handle over the welding point, thus, moving the pivot point of chopping action away from the weld. But that may not be necessary if the weld is strong.
 

birdsfan

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So cotedupy....as a cleaver user, I would welcome any insight you have into cleaver profile and blade geometry. I have read the threads on these topics and there isnt much. It seems that there is a preference for a flatter profile. This blade has a distinct sweep to it. Also, I get that there is a thickness/sharpness tradeoff in a cleaver that is different than that of a gyuto. If you are willing, I would love to hear your thoughts.
 

juice

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LMAO Juice! Our bad reputation has reached down under?!? Dayum!
TBF, I was a sports journalist for a long time, so I was across a lot of stuff from OS, but yes, I would say generally that your well-deserved reputation is known of down here among sports fans 🙃
 

birdsfan

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I will post some pictures of the blade sans handle. The handle I was thinking about is sort of like the one I did for a Tanaka yanagiba that I posted in another thread. Brass face plate and butt plate on a thicker, stubbier, tapered hunk of katalox. The handle design should support the weld point.
 

birdsfan

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Having attended many an Eagles game, I will agree that the reputation is well deserved. On a few occasions I was fairly embarrassed by the behavior of my fellow "bleeding green" nation. For the record, though my passion for the game and my team is strong, above all I value good sportsmanship (wait....is that sexist now).
 

ma_sha1

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So cotedupy....as a cleaver user, I would welcome any insight you have into cleaver profile and blade geometry. I have read the threads on these topics and there isnt much. It seems that there is a preference for a flatter profile. This blade has a distinct sweep to it. Also, I get that there is a thickness/sharpness tradeoff in a cleaver that is different than that of a gyuto. If you are willing, I would love to hear your thoughts.
If you are asking me, Unfortunately I won’t be able to help. I haven’t used a Chinese cleaver for over 20 years. I do remember it was big & heavy, & I was proud to man handle my grandma’s Chinese cleaver as a young men.

It took me a while to covert myself into Gyuto because it felt so lite, just weird at first. Now, after so many years, I am pretty sure I don’t have the muscle to handle a real Chinese cleaver anymore 😂
 

birdsfan

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I had sort of a similar experience moving from my old Zwilling pro to my first J-knife. so much lighter and more nimble.

I have faith ma_sha....if given a cleaver, 4 lbs of veg and whole chicken, your muscle memory would kick in and it would be neatly broken down in no time! and hopefully I will get the hang of it too!
 

birdsfan

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Some more pictures, and dimensions of the project cleaver. You can see the spot weld that connects the tang to the blade. It is not a bad weld, just not all the way across the joint. The handle I have in mind will set flush to the blade, so the fulcrum point should be above the weld. Do you think that will be enough ma_sha?

Note that I have already removed some metal trying to grind off the rust pits. They aren't all off, but I am afraid going much deeper will remove the kanji and I would sort of like to save that. My non-knife nerd friends are always impressed with it, and I do plan to bust this baby out at a barbeque.

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cotedupy

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So cotedupy....as a cleaver user, I would welcome any insight you have into cleaver profile and blade geometry. I have read the threads on these topics and there isnt much. It seems that there is a preference for a flatter profile. This blade has a distinct sweep to it. Also, I get that there is a thickness/sharpness tradeoff in a cleaver that is different than that of a gyuto. If you are willing, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Certainly! I'm not an expert, but I do have a few, so here's my 2c...

And you might have seen already, but I did a bit of a comparison of a couple recently here: Lions vs Tigers. A cleaver review.

From the dimensions and weight of yours I'd guess it's probably a bit thicker than my two; not a full on bone cleaver (I have a chinese bone cleaver it's about 1kg), but perhaps more of an all-rounder. In China I believe the difference can be made between caidao vs piandao or sangdao, the former being thicker, the latter two finer*. Tho it is relatively small for this style of knife in my experience.

I'm kind of on the fence about whether I prefer a full on flat profile or a bit of a curve. I have both and the latter is a bit more versatile, and I wouldn't say the one on yours is over-the-top in terms of curvature, looks pretty good to me.

In terms of the edge itself - obviously with the height of these things you can play around with different grinds and bevels. It would take a bit of work, but you could happily thin yours down quite a lot if you did want it razor-like. TBH tho I quite like the look of the thicker slightly convex grind you have there, and I would have thought you'll still be able to get really quite sharp. The grind on the cheaper of the two in my link above is almost completely flat, and again- there's a lot of metal for food to stick to. The pricier of my two has some convexity, and food release is noticeably better.

Apart from being a bit small, I think there's a lot to like about yours, it's going to make a great all-rounder. Something like that on a camping trip for instance is going to be able to absolutely everything, from food to firewood.

Very much looking forward to seeing the handle you come up with, have you got any links to previous ones you've done? I've re-handled a couple of cleavers, in a slightly amateur fashion, and it's quite a good idea, particularly because the tangs are quite easy to rust with the standard handles.


*I don't speak the language, so happy to be corrected if anyone thinks I'm talking nonsense...
 
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birdsfan

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Thank you so much Cotedupy! I appreciate your insights, they are worth much more than 2 cents to me. I am thinking that I might thin it down a little and add a secondary bevel on the right side to help in food release a little. I will leave the gentle curve, as it suits my normal cutting style a little more closely.

As for the handle, I have never done a cleaver handle before, but I have done a couple of Wa style. I definitely see what you mean about the rust. There were gaps between the ferrule and the blade on this one, and the tang was quite rusted, as you can see. Fortunately there is still plenty of good metal underneath to grind down to. The handle I have in mind is a hexagonal handle made of Katalox, about the same length as the original handle, with a slightly more noticeable taper than normal, to accomodate a tight grip with the forward momentum of a more aggressive chopping motion. I envision a brass face plate that is flush with the blade and a brass butt plate. Perhaps a brass mosaic pin. I am still considering whether to do the traditional tang end hammered down against the butt of the handle (which would be hidden by the butt plate) to further secure the handle or to just depend on a tighter tang slot and some strong epoxy to do the job. If I do the bent tang method, I would have to chamfer and finish the handle with the blade on, but it would be more secure.

Here are the Wa style handles I have done

 

cotedupy

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Wow. That was your first attempt?! I tried one for the first time yesterday from old winemaking oak and a bit of pine kindling, and was quite pleased with the results, but yours is a completely different league. (Tho tbf I don't really have any tools).

Will be very interested to hear the results on what you think works best for this kind of knife. It's something I think about far more than is normal!

FWIW- when I've done cleaver handles I've hammered the tang flat and used epoxy, seems to work fine for me without the bent tang, especially as the metal is usually quite rough to begin with.
 

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birdsfan

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Nice! You have nothing to be ashamed of, those look awesome! Even more impressive that you could deliver those results with limited tools at your disposal.

I have decided not to bend down the tang, and hammered it straight already. I tested the motion and just didnt feel there would be much a durability lift from bending it into a hook. To me the more challenging design consideration is the integrity of the wood handle where the tang goes into the slot, especially with chopping. I plan on reinforcing it with brass and hopefully that will be enough. I am not handle expert or engineer enough to know if my way is the best. I should probably defer to the ancient masters who have been making them for centuries, but than would be no fun! :) Hopefully mine will perform well enough, and look cool.
 

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