How to Sharpen a Meat Cleaver

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 02/24/19 •  6 min read

Properly sharpening a meat cleaver requires a whetstone. Most cleavers will have their blades sharpened to a 25-degree angle, and it’s best to follow this angle when sharpening. To sharpen a cleaver with a whetstone, soak the stone in water and then run the surface of the blade over the stone. Repeat this process and change the stone as you go, starting from the highest grit down to the lowest.

A cleaver knife is an important tool in any kitchen.

Any chef who enjoys cutting and chopping up meat likely already has one in their kitchen.

And since they’re fairly expensive, it’s considered best practice to sharpen them when they get dull instead of getting a replacement knife.

The best way to sharpen a cleaver is with a whetstone, but there are a bunch of different kitchen tools you can use to sharpen these knives.

But regardless of the method being used, it’s important to use the right technique to avoid damaging your knife.

In this guide, we show you how to properly sharpen your own cleaver knife.

Read on to learn more.

Why do we have to sharpen it?

Coming from a rich family, you might ask why do we have to sharpen them and buy one instead? Well, cleavers are the biggest household kitchen knives.

It is a bit pricey compared to other knives, because of the high steel surface, and the thickness it would require in chopping even the hardest bones.

It would be more economical to sharpen them than buying a new one.

Since this is a big knife, some users may already have gained the experience and got used to the grip of their existing knife.

It may be hard for them to use a new knife with a different grip and will take time to get used to it.

Some people miss this important point, as it is for safety purposes.

how to sharpen meat cleaver

If you are using a new knife with a different grip, make sure to practice it before using it in a fast-paced environment (like restaurants or meat shops).

If you are a regular home cook, you may find it hard to sharpen a cleaver.

You might find some sharpening accessories hard to use or too small for the whole knife blade to be sharpened.

You may bring it to a store that offers knife sharpening services, but sometimes doing it at home will save you a lot of money.

Plus, you may also sharpen your other knives as well.

(See more: the best cleavers for your money that people are talking about)

How to sharpen a meat cleaver?

Sharpening a meat cleaver is a challenging task.

Probably due to its large size, and the grip of the person who will sharpen it may be too small.

However, you will see below how you can do it at home and have the sharpest meat cleaver you have ever used.

First of all, consider the bevel or the shape of the blade edge.

Meat cleavers usually have a 25-degree bevel (the angle of the edge’s curviness from a flat surface) and a very thick metal body and spine.

Take note that the meat cleaver is different from a Chinese cleaver (also known as vegetable cleaver) in terms of thickness.

Some knifemakers also create a customized surface that you also need to check before sharpening.

The technique that will be seen below is for those common stainless steel meat cleavers.

The best material to use is a whetstone, the 3000 grit one.

The stone should already be soaked in water for easier use.

Now, hold the cleaver with your prominent hand, with the thumb on the spine or on the top side of the handle where it meets the spine.

With the use of the other hand, place your four fingers on the blade surface near the tip.

The thumb should be resting on the spine of the knives or on the upper part of the handle.

Start by sliding the blade at the correct angle from the heel of the knife to its tip.

Slide it in a curved motion while making sure that all edges of the blade are touching the surface of the whetstone.

There is no need to rush, you may start slowly.

Once you got the technique, you should be able to slide it more smoothly.

Repeat on the other side by using the same hand with the same sliding motion.

It is done when you feel the knife is already sharp that the sliding is now smoother on the stone.

You may see marks on the stone, but it will disappear once you clean the whetstone.

You may test the knife’s sharpness by holding a piece of paper on one side and try to cut through the free side.

It is sharp once it cuts smoothly.

It is very easy to sharpen meat cleavers.

It may look intimidating at first, due to the knife‘s size and when compared to the whetstones that are easily available in the market.

In learning this technique, you will save more money in the long run, while ensuring that your knives are sharp.

What is it used for?

The most commonly used tool for sharpening knives is a whetstone.

It is a fine-grained stone used to sharpen straight steel blade-edged items, such as scissors or a knife.

In understanding the range indicated in the stone, the higher the number the smoother it is.

You would need the lower range ones for those knives that are chipped and very dull (most suggested is 1000 and below for these concerns).

There are whetstones that are a combination of fine and rough types in one, that would help you sharpen other knives or to hone the steel blade.

There is one tool that most consumers think can sharpen knives.

It is the honing rod, a tool where we see users scratch the blade edge of the knife on its metal rod.

If you are not familiar with it, this is a sword-like tool with a rounded rod on top of its handle.

The problem with this tool is how most manufacturers market them, it is sold with the perception that it can sharpen knives.

The real function of this tool is to hone the knife or to maintain its sharpness.

Some knives get small cracks due to normal wear and tear, and this tool helps eliminate it.

You can use a honing rod after sharpening the knife with a whetstone.

There are electronic sharpeners available in the market too, where it has an automatic rotating whetstone inside and would do the sharpening by placing the knife into the slot.

There is no problem in using this if you choose the right ones.

Due to its size, we can conclude that the best item to use is the whetstone, where we can sharpen other knives and tools too.

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.