• Elliot Norman
    Hi all. I have recently been asked to make a meat cleaver for a friend and before I say yes I'd like to find out a bit more about how to heat treat it. Do you just heat treat the cutting edge or do you harden it all then draw back the spine or do you harden and temper it all? Cheers for the help.
  • Smith Knifeworks
    Yes or no to all of the above. What type of steel are you using? What is the cleaver going to be used for? Forged or stock removal? How are you going to grind the edge?

    If someone just asked me "make me a meat cleaver," without knowing any details, I'd go for 5160 in a thickness of 1/4" or slightly more. I'd grind the edge a little convex and heat treat it with a goal of somewhere in the mid 50s on the rockwell scale. It really would depend on what they're using it for. If they're just going to chop up chickens, that's a very different thing than using it to split hog spines for BBQ. Look at the line of CCK (Chan Chi Kee? I'm probably butchering that) cleavers. They make a cleaver called the 1303 that's a vegetable cleaver and it is thinner than any chef knife I've ever seen. In the same line, they make some nutso cleavers like the Rhino that are fucking HUGE and thick. It's totally dependent on what the user is gonna do with it, what their body type is ( A 100lb person probably isnt going to want to swing the same cleaver that a 350lb mountain of a man would swing all day) The differential heat treat is dealer's choice IMO. IF you use 5160 in the mid 50s, I wouldn't see a need to do a differential heat treat. 5160 is tough as fuck. But if you just wanna do it, cause that's what you wanna do, go for it. I can assure you that factory produced cleavers are not deferentially heat treated. That's a time consuming ( ie expensive) way to mass produce something.
  • Smith Knifeworks
    here you go. Just to show possible variances.

    This is the 1303. It's laser thin. So thin that the damn edge is invisible. It cuts vegetables like nothing else I've used.

    To contrast, this one is a MONSTER. 8mm thick at the spine and nearly 2lbs ( sorry, I don't speak Kilos if you're across the pond. Stupid american here...hah) in weight.

    It's all in what they intend to use the tool for.
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