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Uneven bevel

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    Michael Blakley
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    I’m trying to sharpen a meat cleaver that has an edge about 6 inches long and the bevel is long, about 3/8th of an inch.  With that long of a bevel, it’s really easy to feel the angle.  If I use a metal ruler, the bevel is so long, it almost works like a fulcrum for a lever.

    Anyway, the bevel on the right side is at about a 15 degree angle.  The left is about 18 degrees.  I don’t think I’ve ever come across a blade with that big a discrepancy in bevel angle.

    What are the pros and cons of leaving the angles alone and working with them vs. re-profiling the knife.

    And remember, this is a meat cleaver and will used as such.




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    Michael a meat cleaver is used as you know for chopping so it is a brute force cutter not a slicer.  I would look to put a very obtuse angle on it.  I would consider 20º to 25º if I were sharpening it.  It’s hard say why the bevels are so uneven and narrow without knowing the history of how it was used and when it was sharpened.  I would apply even angle bevels (50/50) to each side just for simplicity.

    Although, an uneven bevel could be useful to help push the chopped food off and away from the blade while chopping to allow for a repeated chopping motion without the need to stop and move the chopped pieces out of the way.  In this case for a right handed chopper, (with the larger side of the food to the left while cutting from the right end of it), I’d put a shallower angle, say 20º on the left blade side and the wider, say 25º on the right side of the blade.  Then as you chopped off food from the right end it should push the food away to the right side.

    I don’t think there are any pro sides to leaving the angles as they are.  IMO that’s too narrow an angle for a chopper/cleaver.

    The con side to leaving the angles alone is the edge may very well blunt or roll over under chapping pressure.

    (MarcH's Rack-Its)

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 11 months ago by MarcH.
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    Not all knives we recognize as cleavers are used for chopping.  A Japanese Nakiri looks a lot like a cleaver, but is primarily used for cutting veggies, as I understand it.  The extra weight adds a degree of control and steadiness.  I have a Chicago cleaver I have reprofiled to a chisel edge.  Zero degrees on one side and 20 on the other.  This is a 20-degree inclusive edge and works beautifully for cutting very thin slices from veggies or harder materials like radishes and aged sausages .  Certainly, you wouldn’t want to chop anything with bones in it, and I’m not suggesting that sharpening it to such low angles is advisable.  I’m just making the point that the angle you choose should be based on how the knife will be used.  If you want an obtuse included angle, you could go for 10 degrees on one side and 30 on the other, or some variation on the idea.  I’m not sure the WEPS will reach 30 dps with a knife edge standing that high above the vise.

    My experience is that knives which are very thick at the shoulders of the bevels are not particularly enjoyable to use for kitchen chores.  The chisel edge format makes a huge improvement by putting the thick shoulder on the side being sliced off.

    One thing you will learn from sharpening cleavers is that the 12-inch rods offered by WE would help a lot.

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