A meat cleaver is a large, most-often rectangular knife that is used for splitting or "cleaving" meat and bone. A cleaver may be distinguished from a kitchen knife of similar shape by the fact that it has a heavy blade that is thick from the spine to quite near the edge. The edge is sharply-beveled and the bevel is typically convex. The knife is designed to cut with a swift stroke without cracking, splintering or bending the blade. Many cleavers have a hole in the end to allow them to be easily hung on a rack. Cleavers are an essential tool for any restaurant that prepares its own meat. The cleaver most often found in a home knife set is a light-duty cleaver about 6 in (15 cm) long. Heavy cleavers with much thicker blades are often found in the trade. A "lobster splitter" is a light-duty cleaver used mainly for shellfish and fowl which has the profile of a chef's knife. The Chinese chef's knife is sometimes called a "Chinese cleaver", due to the rectangular blade, but it is unsuitable for cleaving, its thin blade instead designed for slicing; actual Chinese cleavers are heavier and similar to Western cleavers. In contrast to other kitchen knives, the cleaver has an especially tough edge meant to withstand repeated blows directly into thick meat and dense cartilage and even bone, not to mention the cutting board or other supporting surface below. This resilience is accomplished by using a softer steel and a thicker blade, because a harder steel and a thinner blade will fracture more readily. Formerly, weaker knives would suffer buckling failure when used in a cleaving fashion. In contrast to all other kitchen tools but one, a meat tenderizer, it is the only one designed to be swung like a hammer. The edge of a meat cleaver does not need to be particularly sharp, because the knife's design, like that of

hatchet or an axe, relies on sheer momentum to cut efficiently, to slash straight through rather than slicing in a sawing motion. Part of the momentum derives from how hard you swing, of course, and the other part derives from how heavy the cleaver is. A knife-sharp edge on a cleaver is undesirable because it would quickly become more blunt than it would if it were less sharp but sturdier to begin with. The grind of Eastern Asian kitchen knives is 1518 degrees, and for most Western kitchen knives it is 2022. But for a meat cleaver it is even blunter, approximately 25. The tough metal and thick blade of a cleaver also make it a suitable tool for crushing with the side of the blade. This contrasts with certain hard, thin slicing knives, which should not be used for crushing because they can crack under such repeated stress. Cleavers are primarily used for cutting through thin or soft bones and sinew. With a chicken, for example, it can be used to chop through the bird's thin bones or to separate ribs. Cleavers can also be used in preparation of hard vegetables and other foods, such as squash, where a thin slicing blade runs the risk of shattering. Cleavers are not used for cutting through solid, thick and hard bones instead a bone saw, either manual or powered, is used. [edit]Cultural references Cleavers occur with some frequency in traditional Chinese thought. An old Daoist story on the proper use of a cleaver tells of a butcher who effortlessly cut ox carcasses apart, without ever needing to sharpen his cleaver. When asked how he did so, he replied that he did not cut through the bones, but rather in the space between the bones.[1] In explaining his ideal of junzi, Kong Fuzi remarked "Why use an ox-cleaver to carve a chicken?" on the futility of the common people seeking to emulate noblemen.