Kitchen Knives

The Chinese Cleaver: The Cutting Edge of Craftsmanship

The Chinese Cleaver The Cutting Edge of Craftsmanship

The term Chinese Cleaver covers a range of kitchen cutting and chopping implements, usually with the characteristic rectangular shape to the blade that you’d expect from a cleaver.  

Cleavers as a class of knife are fast becoming not just specialty Asian tools but a popular addition to the modern Western kitchen too.

We’re going to showcase these versatile kitchen tools and explain what they are, what makes each type so attractive, and how to offer and align them with customer needs and tastes!

What is a Chinese cleaver?

What is a Chinese cleaver?

A Chinese cleaver is a cutting, slicing, and chopping tool with a steel blade. It differs from a standard or Western style kitchen knife in that it doesn’t usually feature a pointed tip to the blade. 

The blade of a Chinese cleaver is traditionally rectangular, broad in width and squared off at the tip. Chinese cleavers, if well made, feature ergonomic handles. These are shaped for comfort, weighted evenly, attractive, and usually out of wood, composite resins or carbon fiber.

Chinese cleavers can be heavier and more durable in construction than kitchen knives, making them ‘go to’ multi – purpose tools for a range of kitchen tasks that may damage or bend lighter knife blades.

The broad, flat shape of the Chinese cleaver’s blade make it a kitchen multi – tasker:  the side of the blade can be used for crushing things like garlic or herbs, and the flat surface area make it very handy for scraping food of the cutting surface and transferring it to the cooking area.

The action of a Chinese cleaver is somewhat different to that of a knife as it’s a pushing forwards motion or a tapping motion as opposed to a downwards stroke.

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Different types of Chinese cleaver

Chinese cleavers can be broken down into sub – categories and we’re going to explore these. You can rest assured that there’s a cleaver for every task that a home cook or professional chef could face in the modern day kitchen!

The Chinese vegetable cleaver

The Chinese vegetable cleaver

With so many people moving towards a vegetarian or vegan based diet, the preparation of vegetables has never been more relevant to today’s consumer.  The light duty Chinese vegetable cleaver or pian dao fills this niche admirably and is proficient at:

  • Slicing into cuts such as julienne
  • Dicing
  • Smashing of ingredients into pastes
  • Prepping vegetables, fruits, seafood, softer types of animal flesh without bones
  • Delicate ornamental cuts used for garnishes, sushi, and decorative purposes

The Chinese vegetable cleaver is thin bladed and often quite light in construction even though it can be made from a hard steel. It typically has a double bevel or two edge sided blade.

The Chinese vegetable cleaver once the user is skilled at using it offers very good control in the hand and it avoids the bulky weight and cumbersomeness of larger, heavier cleavers.

The multi – purpose cleaver

A multi – purpose Chinese cleaver wen wu dao, is just great for so many things and offers a little more heft and resilience than its lighter vegetable cleaver counterpart. These blades are usually double bevel which means the blade has two edge sides to it.

This cleaver is made out of a durable steel and has a blade that’s thin towards the tip but thicker around the heel. This cleaver sails through:

  • Poultry
  • Vegetables
  • Herbs both leafy and woody
  • Fish/seafood 
  • Fruit

This mid – weight and mid – range cleaver isn’t strong enough to handle joints of meat or very dense things like hard skinned pumpkin but our next cleaver to be discussed covers that need and the multi – purpose cleaver is the one you want to do just about everything else!

The heavy cutting/bone cleaver

The heavy cutting bone cleaver

The heavy or bone cleaver, or as known as gu dao, is what most people would associate with the Western idea of a butcher’s cleaver. It’s heavy, terrifically sharp, and made for the tough and onerous kitchen prep tasks.

This Chinese cleaver features a thick and incredibly durable steel blade that’s thick throughout for maximum downward slicing momentum. The heavy/bone cleaver provides the assurance of a double bevel blade for ease of sharpening and maximum cutting surface.

This is the cleaver you want for:

  • Very dense or hard ingredients like hard skinned squashes or coconut
  • Bone in meats or large joints
  • Animal carcasses that need to be butchered
  • Reliability and speed of processing when prepping large quantities of ingredients for either large gatherings or catering services

The benefits offered by owning a Chinese cleaver

Versatility

The Chinese cleaver outshines your typical Western style knife in that it’s a multi – tasker and highly utilitarian whilst still being a good looking tool.

Whereas for prepping a standard meal you may have the need to reach for several different types of knives, the Chinese cleaver (particularly a mid – range all – purpose cleaver) can handle all prep tasks by itself from start to finish. This makes it a sound investment for any kitchen.

Longevity and durability

With premium high carbon stainless steel alloys being used in the manufacture of Chinese cleavers today, you can rest assured that the product is long – lasting and capable of withstanding wear because of elements like chromium, carbon, and tungsten

These premium steels have been developed for quality assurance and long term performance and can be both bought and sold with confidence.

Precision cutting with the comfort of weight

Precision cutting with the comfort of weight

Chinese cleavers if used properly (and it does take practice!), deliver an extremely fine and precise cut suitable for things like sashimi or garnishes prep. They have wonderful ease of movement in the hand and allow for a very controlled cut if that’s needed.

For heavier jobs you’ve got thicker bladed cleavers that add ease of motion and comfort to jobs that would require some hacking and sawing with your typical European style knife.  If a heavy cleaver is well balanced and weighted sufficiently it takes all the pain out of prepping very hard and dense ingredients.

Our advice on choosing the right cleaver for selling

The market today for knives and Chinese style cleavers is a rich one for the trend savvy marketing. For individuals looking to branch out into their own businesses or to expand their existing product range, Chinese cleaver is an excellent choice.

With many Chinese cleaver products available today though, how do you assess which products are right for you? Read on for some thoughts to consider.

Choose a Chinese cleaver that’s strong on design

Any consumer is looking for a product that meets the design criteria of 

  • Form
  • Function

And ideally, the product will offer both in good amounts!

These elements make for an easy sell product, and you can assess this by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is this product aligned with my customer’s aesthetic?  In other words, does the product suit my customer’s cultural preferences, their taste, and is it attractive to look at?
  • Are the product specs in line with a good level of quality in terms of today’s manufacturing standards?
  • To break this down further, are the materials used in the product for example the cleaver blade steel and the handle materials of high quality and do they have a reputable record in the knife products industry?
  • What level of choice does the range offer for specific orders or customization? Customers may have specific needs or likes when it comes to cleaver blade weight and width, the type of tang or bolster used or the handle material. Your supplier should be able to fill these requirements for you.
  • The knife or cleaver handle is an important part of the item too as it gives both form and function. Look at ranges that offer a variety of handles that differ in look, size, and material. This will ensure a comfortable and user friendly product for any customer.  

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Matching your Chinese cleaver to your customer base

Matching your Chinese cleaver to your customer base

It’s important when offering any product to understand what the customer wants, and what they need. This is the driving force behind any purchase.

When retailing knife or cleaver products it’s important to understand the usage to which each cleaver will be put.

For example, a butcher or abattoir would be the perfect sales field for the heavy cutting/bone cleaver as they deal with whole carcasses and have a need to joint meat into customer friendly portion sizes and cuts.

The modern day home cook would benefit hugely from owning a multi – purpose cleaver as it’s so versatile. Professional restaurant kitchens usually buy their meat pre – jointed too so you need not fear that you’ve lost a market there either, the multi – purpose cleaver would form an integral part of any restaurant’s kitchen for prepping large amounts of ingredients quickly and easily.

For pro kitchens that joint their own carcasses or part thereof, all of the cleaver varieties could find an application in different parts of the meal production chain, from cutting up large pieces of dense meat to the preparation of fine cut herbs, there’s a cleaver to fill that gap!

Potential markets for Chinese cleaver sales

Chinese cleavers have such a wide – spread application because you’re essentially selling into any situation or establishment where food is prepared.

This includes:

  • Home cooks
  • Formal restaurant kitchens
  • Farmer’s markets
  • Outdoor restaurants
  • Mobile food trucks
  • Butcheries
  • Catering schools
  • Church or temple kitchens
  • Catering services

Success Stories

Success Stories

The wholesale knife retailing field has seen very good growth and profitability over the last few years as brands like Shibazi and CCK have opened the doors to making traditionally Asian knives and cleavers a mainstream kitchen and cook must have!

The sales field is certainly a big one and growing and offers huge potential for the individual or company looking to get into the front line of kitchen goods supply.

LeeKnives offer an attractive, high quality and reasonably priced selection of some of today’s finest crafted knives and cleavers available for sale.  

This range of goods is backed up by detailed product information/specs, easily reached customer services, and everything you need in terms of wholesale, Private Label, OEM and drop shipping resources. 

In conclusion

We hope that this article introducing the Chinese cleaver to you has given you useful information and some strong ideas in terms of including the Chinese cleaver range of products into your sales offering. 

Do join us again on our blog as we explore other products and segments of the kitchen tools marketplace with your success in mind! Should you have any queries or just want to chat knives and cleavers, do reach out to us.

Need a hassle free quote or aftersales information and support?  It’s easy peasy to reach out to us at our quote portal. Thank you for joining us!