I don't chop through bones too much. Every once in a while I've sawed through em, but I've never bothered getting a meat cleaver. The well-reputed ones (the big CCK bone cleavers, the old warhorse knives by Wusthof and the like) were too expensive to justify for a knife I'd use only rarely, while I don't particularly trust some of the widely available cheap options (farberware, etc). I figured a meat cleaver was the kind of thing I'd maybe pick up at a yard sale when I saw one for a good price.
More on a hunch than anything else, I decided instead to buy a knife off Amazon. Not many reviews, no reviews AFAIK on the knife forums. Shipping was very quick. And I must say I'm impressed. Selling for $14, I got one heck of a cleaver.
This thing is a massive, 2 pound beast of a knife. The edge was sharp when it arrived (despite the obtuse edge angle and obvious coarseness of the sharpening grit) and sharpened up well and easily once I took it to the stones. Blade is 9 inches long, all of it very usable edge. Stainless. Full tang. The remaining questions:
- How's the edge retention?
- Does it chip?
So first I chopped some bones. The blade performed very well, and all that extra mass meant I didn't need much of a backswing - which in turn meant that I could chop accurately. At the edge itself, the bones seemed to leave almost invisibly small dents in the extreme edge - significantly smaller than 1 mm, only visible as light glints off them. With the exception of these tiny marks, the edge was perfectly intact, and the cutting board seemed to cause no folding in the edge. The knife still cut paper easily afterward - it would take a lot of heavy chopping before this knife felt dull.
So next, I took a honing steel and... whacked it against the edge, both head on and from the side (yes, I actually did this). Where I hit the knife, the edge warped a bit (any knife would). But no chips. And nothing that was even difficult to sharpen out.
If I was to nitpick, I should note that one of the handle scales is imperfectly fitted to the tang - there is a tiny crevice between the metal and the wood. And also the spine was a little sharp (easy to fix). Certainly nothing special fit and finish-wise.
But for $14, I'm thinking this is a very good deal. If anyone else out there was holding off on buying a meat cleaver because they didn't think they could justify the price, this blade is pretty easy to justify given its massive size, quality, and low cost.
I don't know where my camera is now, but I might include some pics in the next day or two.