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Recommend me a cleaver

I have 2 large dogs that go through 3 chickens every 4 days. I use either a 6" sandwich knife or my 9" chef's knife (both wustof classic) to cut themapart, but when I'm hacking through the spine or breast bone, I feel terrible and it kills the edges on my knives. I am certainly not a knife connoisseur, but I do like my knives to be servicably sharp ( I use a Spyderco Sharpmaker to keep an edge on them(I'm sure there are plenty of you gnashing your teeth right now)) I'm thinking that a big fat scary, maybe rusty cleaver would do the job? Is there a specific brand I should be looking for? Just go to goodwill and find SOMETHING that I can put an edge on? Preferably something cheap with some weight behind it to generate destruction upon these chickens.

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  1. LaureitQ,

    Cleavers need not to be expensive. Now, there are big thick meat cleavers with a concave grind. I have one. It is great at chopping through bones, but they are not really good for much else. If you will only chop thin bones, then maybe a medium blade Chinese cleaver is more suitable? It can break small bones and you can also slice and cut with it. The advantage is that you don't have to switch knives between chopping bones and slicing meat. It is really up to you if you want a pure thick bone crushing cleaver or if you want a medium blade cleaver.

    For a powerful cleaver, I think any cleaver with a concave grind is good. $10-25 should be more than enough for a small meat cleaver. Dexter-Russell has some, but most brands will do as long as the grind is correct. For a medium cleaver which can handle small bones, then a medium blade Chinese cleaver is ok. If this is the routine, I suggest Dexter-Russell Chinese cleaver like this one:


    4 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Chem: I though you were a CCK cleaver fan?

      1. re: petek

        :) I do like CCK knives, but I think for crushing chicken bones, any cleaver will do a decent job as long as the blade is thick enough. Its ability to form an acute sharp edge is not very important. CCK does make some real serious bone cleavers, but those are overkill for the original poster I think.



        1. re: petek

          A lot of CCK are "slicers", not for chopping through bones. Usually people (including myself and I think Chem) are fans of CCK for their chinese chef knife, i.e. vegetable slicers, not their bone hacking ability.

      2. Cooks Illustrated has a dated (2004), but probably still reliable, review of cleavers. There top pick was the Global 6-inch, but of course expensive. Their next highest rated cleaver was also their Best Buy, the LamsonSharp 7-inch cleaver that they reported held a sharp edge and was lightweight. Amazon has it listed for $43.89 at the moment: http://www.amazon.com/Walnut-Kitchen-...

        1 Reply
        1. re: PattyOh

          The Global G-12 is probably the best-designed item in their line. Pricey but effective. For chicken disassembly, you'll want heft and blade mass. Chinese style cleavers have to be large and concave to work effectively as cleavers, which most them aren't. The point is to minimize effort, so bigger is best.

        2. I got my cleaver at the local asian supermarket; it was ~$5 and works perfectly for cutting off wing-tips or cutting the back-bone into multiple pieces for stock. I love it and absolutely recommend it (although I keep it in the back of my drawer, since it can freak out company). Be warned, though, that the asian market is a treasure trove of awesome cookware and porcelain; you might come back with more stuff than you expected to purchase!

          1 Reply
          1. re: caseyjo

            I didn't even think to check the local asian supermarket! They have some really great stuff! I'm totally going to check it out. Otherwise, find something with a concave edge and go from there.

            Thanks guys!

          2. I have a Wusthoff Classic cleaver that I bring out whenever I am afraid that my task is going to abuse my knives. My Henkels Chef knife does a fine job on small chicken bones, but I wouldn't use it to separate spare ribs, or cut a chicken thigh bone, I think Chinese cleavers are good for this IF you choose one of the big ones, not a veggie cleaver. The Wusthoff cleaver is really a fine piece of cutlery designed for nasty tasks involving meat and bones. I'd recommend it.

            1. Have you thought of a good set of scissors? Most good shears are take apart for sanitary cleaning, and allow you cut a lot of stuff! I can cut up all but thigh bones (the thick ones) with shears. My favorite roast chicken is a backbone removed chicken, which requires cutting from snout to vent -- to borrow a zoology term -- and shears do a great job; I find them much safer than the ol' hack and slash of cleaver use. If you're cutting up BIG bones, do what butchers do, use a hack saw (or band saw, but it gets a little pricey having a food safe band saw :P).

              1. I have a set of wustof kitchen shears and they work great for things like removing the backbone and stuff from a chicken. The only 2 places that I'm actually cutting through bone (mostly I'm just disarticulating joints and breaking the chicken up into quarters) is I split the chicken where the ribcage ends (side to side across the back) and cut through the breastbone of the bird to separate the breasts and essentially turn them into bone in skin on breasts like you'd buy already done at the grocery store.

                I think I'm gonna just buy a big scary cleaver and see where that gets me. If i destroy the blade to the point that it won't go through bone any longer, I'll throw it out and get another.

                13 Replies
                1. re: LaureltQ

                  Don't worry, you are fine. We are talking about chicken bone here (hollow bones).

                  1. re: LaureltQ

                    I'd just get a cheap Asian cleaver and go from there. Or go to a thrift store and buy a cheap, but servicable chefs knife so that it doesn't really matter what happens to the blade. I've seen knives that would work for your purpose for $1. Buy a couple and don't worry about sharpening them, just hack away.

                    Thanks for clearing up the bone question for me. I know the local coyotes are eating the Canada geese, I thought a few of them might be choking.

                    1. re: John E.

                      "I know the local coyotes are eating the Canada geese, I thought a few of them might be choking."

                      Did you run up to the coyotes trying to save them from choking?

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I attempted to do the Heimlich Maneuver, but they didn't seem to be too receptive to my assistance.

                        1. re: John E.

                          Save as many of those coyotes as you can , those birds are a pain now

                          1. re: John E.

                            "I attempted to do the Heimlich Maneuver, but they didn't seem to be too receptive to my assistance."


                            Ignorant ones do not know what is best for them. I like to thank you for your service in behalf of all CHOWHOUND members. Yet, education is the key for the long term success. We need to teach these foolish coyotes the dangers of eating chicken and geese. We need to set up schools there. They need to learn to say no. Just say no.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              I'm with Dave, I want them to eat the geese. We're lucky, the pond behind our house has high brush and grasses surrounding it or we would have goose crap covering our backyard lawn.

                              1. re: John E.

                                Yeah... in reality, we have some geese problems here too.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  What part of the country are you in Chem?

                                  1. re: Dave5440

                                    Northeastern United States -- between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I think Petek and you are from Canada, right? Eastern part or Western part?

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Central I guess we are , southern Ontario, P's in in toronto and I'm about an hour west in brantford. Your about 6~7 hr drive from us

                        2. re: John E.

                          Sometimes overeager dogs will swallow huge pieces of meat/bone whole and then have to regurgitate the meat back up to chew it properly before reswallowing it. It's pretty unpleasant to watch.

                          1. re: LaureltQ

                            I turned my back for a minute or two and my puppy ate half a rack of raw spare ribs that sat in the fridge too long and had a not so pleasant smell to them. I was worried the bones would tear her insides up on the way out, but she's fine. I'm glad I didn't make her drink peroxide like the vet suggested or it might have caused a problem when she vomited them up.

                      2. We split a number of posts about dogs and chicken over to our Not About Food board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/771585