How Long Is A Cleaver Knife? [And why does it have a hole in it?]

If you want to make heavy-duty cuts in your kitchen, you’ve probably thought about adding a cleaver knife to your cutlery. This versatile tool is handy and powerful, but how long is a cleaver knife? To make sure you’ll have ample storage space for a cleaver, we’ve researched the length of this knife for you.

A cleaver knife (or meat cleaver) is a heavy knife with a rectangular shaped blade, similar to the shape of a hatchet. Cleaver knives are typically between 10.5- to 12-inches in overall length. The blade length is between 6- to 8-inches, with a round hole in the top edge opposite the handle. The height of the blade varies from 3- to 5-inches. These beefy tools come in various weights, from as light as 19-ounces to as heavy as 2-pounds.

As a general rule, home chefs generally prefer a mid-size and mid-weight cleaver knife instead of a large and heavy knife used by professional butchers in a processing facility. But, what can you prepare with a cleaver, and how is it used? Keep reading as we delve into the origins of the cleaver knife and provide several useful tips for you to get the most out of this piece of cutlery.

A cleaver knife on a wooden meat cutting board, How Long Is A Cleaver Knife? [And why does it have a hole in it?]

The Heavy-Duty Cleaver Knife

The cleaver, as we know it today, has the same functionality as its predecessors from thousands of years ago. It has always been used for butchering and has always been a common and useful everyday tool.

Although it has modern lines, it still has an ax-like appearance. It takes the place of hatchets to hack through bones and crack open coconuts. The broad edge is solid enough for crushing herbs as well. It is a versatile knife with an unmistakable appearance and a reliable reputation. It is an irreplaceable tool for the kitchen.

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The cleaver is prominent in China, where no kitchen or household can do without it. It does everything from chopping meat to preparing firewood for the stove to cutting vegetables. The flat side is used as a meat tenderizer. The cleaver is even used to whittle chopsticks.

Why Does A Cleaver Have A Hole In It?

The hole is used to store the knife by hanging because the chunky size takes up a lot of space in a standard drawer. Since the sharp cleaver’s purpose is to chop bones, store it out of reach in a safe location. It is convenient to hang by using a well-placed nail or even a cup hook to serve as a suitable storage solution.

Click here to see the Lux Decor cleaver on Amazon.

What Angle Do You Sharpen A Cleaver?

Cleavers are designed to take abuse, so the edge is not razor-sharp like a butcher’s knife. A sharp edge would bend, chip, or break under pressure. An edge that is too wide would stop at the bone rather than go through it, to be ineffective. Remember that a cleaver is meant to chop, so a keen, fine edge is not needed or desired. An angle of 20° to 25° is ideal.

How Do You Use A Cleaver?

Swing a cleaver like a hammer or meat tenderizer. It is meant for chopping and hacking rather than sawing back and forth like other knives. The weight combined with the swing from the user provides the momentum needed to penetrate soft bones, spare ribs, cartilage, sinew. A cleaver is an excellent tool for tough vegetables and fruits too, like raw squash and coconuts.

Its blade shape lends it to a variety of uses. The backside breaks rigid, thick bones. The flat side crushes garlic and other herbs, and it also makes a good bench scraper. It is indispensable when making broths and soups. It exposes bones and meaty insides of foods to provide more flavorful dishes.

Tips For Successful Cleaving

Protect Surfaces With A Sturdy Chopping Block

Make sure you have a chopping block underneath. The cleaver is designed to separate bones and be stopped by the surface it meets. A glass or plastic surface can crack or break from the impact. A thin, pliable cutting mat does not protect the surface underneath from impact. A thick, wooden block absorbs the shock and stops the blade without damaging countertops and other surfaces.

It’s OK To Be Imprecise

Do not be discouraged if your chops are not precise. This tool is not designed for precision cuts like a butcher’s knife. It is meant for rough work and therefore makes a rough cut.

Practice Makes Perfect

A cleaver can be a bit awkward at first. Rather than sawing back and forth, swing it like a hammer. It is a primitive-looking tool, but with time and patience, you will see that it is a handy gadget in the modern kitchen.

Keep Fingers Clear

Be sure that your hand and fingers are clear of the food you are preparing while using the cleaver. It is a hefty knife meant to chop, crush, and break. It can injure the cook. But with proper technique, the cleaver is a useful addition to the kitchen.

Select A Grippable, Comfortable Handle

When purchasing a cleaver, choose a model with a rubber or wooden handle. Remember that raw meat and some fruits and vegetables are slick. A knife of any type slipping in the cook’s hand will cause an accident. Wood and rubber provide a slip-resistant grip for the chef to prepare food safely. Metal handles slip easily, and plastic handles will crack and break with pressure and age.

Keep Blade Sharp And Clean

Another factor to consider is the material of the blade. Stainless steel holds an edge for a long while and is easy to clean to not harbor bacteria. Remember that you will be handling raw meat, so always wash the blade after each use.

What Is The Difference Between A Butcher Knife And A Cleaver?

A cleaver is used for chopping, breaking, and crushing thick, rigid bones and dense foods. It is not exact; instead it separates food into pieces to be prepared as the chef desires.

A butcher knife is more of a precision tool. It has a slightly curved, sharp edge to trim fat from cuts of meat previously made by cleaver knives. The butcher knife would chip, crack, and break if used for heavier work. A cleaver makes the rough cut so the butcher knife can fine-tune. These knives go hand in hand.

Click here to see this butcher knife on Amazon.

In Conclusion

A cleaver is a versatile kitchen tool, provided it is used correctly and well-maintained. Adding this cutlery to your kitchen gives a lifetime of capability so you can prepare your favorite recipes and diversify your menu, too, with various cuts of meat and hardy vegetables.

If you want to equip your kitchen with the right knives for every task, please read our related posts to learn everything you need to know before you start to shop:

7 Types Of Chef’s Knives You Should Know

How Long Do Kitchen Knives Last?

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