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Jun 20, 2008 09:22 AM

carbon steel chinese cleaver

i want a chinese cleaver mainly for veggies, and it seems like carbon steel would be a better bet than stainless since i want to go cheap.

Here are two items that i think look good.


the bottom one has full tang, which is nice.

ur thoughts? i'm happy to know about particular knives or whether you think carbon is a good idea, etc etc. I would be willing to spend up to $50.

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  1. Do you have experience with a cleaver? I have never developed proficiency with one compared to a gyuto or nakiri. Remember a carbon steel can form rust in a short time if left wet. Once patina develops it will show down the reaction time but it will still require increased maintenance over a stainless blade.

    7 Replies
    1. re: scubadoo97

      no, i haven't used a cleaver (aside from a meat cleaver).

      I think i can handle the carbon steel.

      I was thinking of a nakiri as well, but i was worried about a few things. one, that it would be hard to find something decent in my budget. two, that japanese knives require special handling i'm unfamiliar with. I think a nakiri might be more familiar in my hand but i think i could learn to use the cleaver. I've been getting in to the quick knuckle-guided chop recently and I want something with a wide, flat blade.

        1. re: scubadoo97

          i decided that a nakiri just isn't wide enough. I went to Korin over the weekend and tried a few out. They had 2 chinese style cleavers which i liked a lot better. The lighter one was much more to my liking.

          while i was there I bought this for a friend's wedding:

          1. re: flies

            The Tojiro DPs are excellent knives and for the money are a great buy. I have the 240mm gyuto as well as a 150 honesuki and 270 sujihiki. It was good that you could go in and try them. I got all my Tojiros from Korin.

        2. re: flies

          i got a pretty decent nakiri (cant remember how much i paid for it but i think it was quite cheap) in some random chinese store in bkln, i also got an awesome cleaver for as little as $20, i think its stainless steel, its easy to sharpen and it holds its edge nicely. u might want to check ur local chinese stores 1st.

        3. re: scubadoo97

          I like my old cheapo Chinese cleavers, recommend them as good QPR. Here's a tip - when I buy any new carbon steel blade I rub mustard all over the blade, put it into a plastic produce bag or wrap it with plastic wrap. Let that sit overnight, wash the mustard off in 24 hours or so. Instant patina. I also find the Norton ''india' stone gives a great 'toothy' edge on most 1095 carbon steel knives if you can freehand sharpen. Norton India stones are recommended by Jerry Fisk for his carbon knives, and a 'national treasure' knifemakers suggestions are good enough for me.

          1. re: texascarl

            You did see the less expensive carbon cleavers at the Wok Shop, yes?


            I can vouch for the No. 1 from that site and one of my friends raves about the Dexter-Russel.

        4. Lee Valley has a stainless cleaver for less than $20. I bought one a couple of years ago. It's nice when I'm chopping a lot of veg.

          1. Personally, I prefer the the stainless steel full cleaver with metal handle because I get a better grip with it for my own hand (shown in the wokshop's link above your own under "stainless steel cleaver"). The lightness of the cleaver makes for better maneuverability and chopping. Plus, I've found that it's very easy to clean when there aren't small ridges and dents in which dirt and grease can collect. The one I use is from my mom which she used for 30 some years so it's durable.

            3 Replies
            1. re: daeira

              I don't see it in the link above mine (I am book marking Japan Wood Worker! nice site) The one from Lee Valley does have a steel handle. Maybe you were looking at my link.

              1. re: Alacrity59

                Sorry Alacrity. I was actually referring to OP's original post which gave the wokshop link. The type of cleaver I use is located in the link above the one the OP gave from the wokshop

                1. re: daeira

                  I have the same stainless steel cleaver from the Wok Shop (with metal handle) and I love it. I think it is a great value.

            2. the normal cleaver in the wokshop link is overpriced. you can get that item for under $10 in an asian grocery store. it is commonly used in restaurants, & is very durable. it is a good all-purpose tool but i like it for butchering poultry and small animals. if you are not used to working with a cleaver, for veg i would go with a lighter, basic japanese-style veg knife, which you can also find in the same store for under $20. i am not sure where the op is from, but my advice would be to browse the biggest local asian grocer in a nearby metropolis and get a feel for the knives in your hand before you buy. of course, i also advocate saving up money and getting the best knives you can afford, but i still use these cheap carbon steel knives regularly and there is nothing wrong with them.

              1 Reply
              1. re: soupkitten

                I'm with soupkitten on this. In my Chinatown, you can get a Chinese cleaver for under $10. It's important to get a feel for the cleaver and judge whether you're comfortable with the weight, grip and general feel of the knife. Since I have a small hand, I often find that the knives recommended by others are simply uncomfortable for me to grip. I'd recommend that if you're going to use a Chinese cleaver to also use it on a wood chopping/cutting board. I really don't like the way a cleaver cuts on glass or plastic and have found that wood provides the best textured surface.

              2. so i think i'm about to buy the central chef one i linked to. I think it'll be a bit lighter.