How to Sharpen a Meat Cleaver

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Are you wondering how to sharpen a meat cleaver?

Well, I’m going to tell you how.

Sharpening a cleaver can be an intimidating task. One of the difficulties is that meat cleavers come in many different styles and construction. This results in different sharpening techniques being required.

A meat cleaver generally comprises of a basic bevel and a large thick blade. These knives are often crafted in a sturdy fashion so their blade usually doesn’t require intense sharpening. A 300 grit Japanese whetstone is recommended for these types of blades.

To sharpen your meat cleaver, it’s best to start from the heel and sharpen forwards towards the tip, while holding it at a slight angle. You want to be very careful to maintain the same profile while sharpening. If you aren’t careful, you could mess up your blade. You then want to do the same thing to the other side of the blade, in order to form a sharp point along the profile of the blade.

After sharpening, you want to be sure to wipe your cleaver down, to make sure that metal shavings don’t get into your food. You should also rinse the whetstone.

Below is an instructional video on how to sharpen your cleaver:

If your cleaver is quite old in age, you have the option of profiling it on a rough stone before sharpening it.

A normal meat cleaver should be sharpened at a 22.5 to 30 degree angle, depending on what the blade is used for. If you’re not sure how to gauge the angle, you can simply estimate a 45 to 60 degree angle, and then cut it in half.

Optimally, you want the blade to remain symmetrical on both sides. This will enhance the knife’s durability and allow it to last much longer. It also results in a blade which is easier to sharpen.

Once you have evened and flattened the bevels, you can proceed to sharpen your cleaver. A 30 degree bevel is recommended here. This size should allow your cleaver to remain sharp, as well as reducing it’s chances of wedging during use. After this is done, you can finish your blade off with a regular stone.

Keep in mind that meat cleavers don’t generally need to be razor shape for adequate use. A thin edge isn’t suitable for the type of tasks a meat cleaver is used for.

Main Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.

The Knife Analyst

The Knife Analyst

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1 Comment
  1. Hi there, this article states two different angles as the correct one. First 22.5, then 30-35. I guess there’s even a 30 thrown in midway also.

    I’m assuming the former is for one side, the latter are inclusive, unless you mean 60-70 degrees inclusive. Surprised no one has commented on this, but perhaps cleaver sharpening isn’t as common.

    Just sharpened my Shun cleaver to 45 degrees inclusive, which is extremely sharp. This is suitable for vegetable work and lighter meats, but I can see 50 degrees or higher for heavier work. Maybe even 60, but even axes are sharpened only to 50 commonly.

    Thanks for clarifying-

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