Hopefully this is a quick, simple question. What is the effective difference between a traditional cleaver (something like this) and a straight back cleaver (like this)? I can't tell if the curved blade near the front would be helpful or hurt the my normal usage of a cleaver (hacking up carcasses).

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    I'm not an expert, so I'm not going to answer. I glanced at your pictures and immediately had mental images with each. The straight one makes me think of a full arm swing, clean removal of heads and such. The curved one makes me think a rotating, crunching motion, as in through joints or small bones. Either way...EEEW! – Jolenealaska Nov 23 '14 at 19:37

So, as I couldn't find anything online regarding this. I asked the butcher I work with.

He also can't give a definite answer, he does however have a collection, including a cleaver similar to the Curved Front. He recons as the front rarely takes a pounding like the main flat section, it's almost always sharper. As a result if for example he is cleaning the meat off Beef Ribs for mincing. He'd use the front part for slicing down the bone then the main section to chop any bone for other uses (Gravy etc). He does point out it's rare he would do this as he almost always has a boning knife to hand so just uses that, but if in a rush to do something for a customer it's just handy.

Again this is what he uses the front for, not necessarily the intended purpose. A reviewer for that particular knife seems to use the front for cutting pizza... hmm. (here)

  • That's right. The curved cleaver is really a bastardized hybrid between a proper cleaver (used for cleaving) and a butcher's knife (used for slicing). I really would recommend against it as it's unlikely to do either task well: the curved edge is too short to allow for proper slicing, and the straight edge is too short to provide proper edge pressure across larger bones/product. – tohster Dec 27 '15 at 18:14
  • Thanks so much, and sorry for taking so long to accept! That makes a lot of sense... basically a tiny bit of extra utility that's only useful in a pinch. Like your buddy, I usually would have a boning knife on hand too whenever I'd be using a cleaver (except, maybe, if I'm using it for chopping BBQ but I have other tools for that). – Matthew Apr 22 '16 at 17:42

Sorry before I go on, the cleavers you chose are specifically for butchering and the cutting of bones right? Ok, if this is the case there is a hybrid cleaver which is a very traditional Chinese butchers cleaver. It is made by Chan Chee Ki, or the initial CCK. There are two of them, one called "Big Rhino" and appropriately the other is called "Little Rhino". They are big and scary but are very useful. I want the little one, but as I have way too many knives right now, I don't think I will be getting it anytime soon. Just another option for you. Have fun!

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