Looking for a cleaver/ chopper to whack bones

My old knife’s contour is wholly unsuitable for whack through bones when I need to prep dishes such as Hainenese Chicken. I don’t want to put my Wusthof through such a task. I am thinking about getting a chopper/ cleaver for this purpose.

First I look at Chan Chi Kee:

A fine bone chopping machine at $115, but a little pricey for me for only occasional bone chopping.

Then I look at the low end, but I am not familiar with most of these brands:

Any recommendations for bone chopper out there that is reasonable on the budget and effective for the job? Thanks!

My advice is to go to a restaurant supply and find one that feels comfortable in your hand. The cheaper the better. It doesn’t need to hold a super sharp edge - it just has to be heavy enough to “split a chicken”.

My $0.02.


I like the CCK KF 140X series

What kind of bone do you want to cleave and what price point are you looking at?

Are you primarily going after chicken bones? If so then poultry shears and your hands should do the trick.

Yeah, mostly chicken, I need them cut similar to the way it is done here. Since its not the joints I am going after, I think shears may be a bit tough.

I think at most $50-$80. I think the CCK KF1401 KF1402 both fit that budget. Will the bones mess up the blade over time?

I would have thought that the best strategy is to buy a cheap and functional cleaver that you can replace every so often. Better than a precision knife you need to put a lot of care into maintaining.

Question: I know Chinese chefs use a cleaver for fine work as well as chopping bones. But do they use the same Cleaver or do they have a finer, razor sharpe, tool for intricate chopping, and a heavier one for chopping.

One thought: if you are just chopping cooked chicken the bones are pretty soft after cooking so a decent chefs knife will also make short work of them.

That’s what I was thinking as well, because I think some do use a specialized chopper to chop bones. So whether the CCK’s 140x will get messed up over time is the question. Ultimately I am considering the additional cleaver to preserve the Wusthof main chef knife that I have.

I’m with Doobiewah, except I wouldn’t even go to a restaurant supply store. I would go to someplace like the Stockton Bargain Center in SF Chinatown. You can get a serviceable heavy cleaver there which would probably cost less to replace than to get your fancy knife sharpened.

As PhilD suggested, I’m sure that in a perfect world a separate cleaver/chopper for breaking chicken carcasses would be used. I think they’re pretty heavy, and don’t need to be razor sharp (although they’re not blunt). This would preserve the lighter extra-sharp blades for veg and meat slicing. I expect though that in reality the experts (Chinese professional cooks, for instance) are less concerned about these things, and just use fewer rather than more bits of equipment.

You get it right. Well, it sound like you want a good cleaver to chop through chicken bones? I think these days even the CCK KF 140X will be over the $50-80 due to the price hike. In the last 5 years or so, the Chan Chi Kee knives have about doubled their prices. Actually if you want to chop the cooked chicken (as your photo illustrated), then KF150X is the way to go, but it is over your budget.

You should get a separate cleaver. Chopping bones will definitely mess up a normal blade. So people usually have one knife for fine cutting with an acute sharp angle and one knife for cutting through tough material including bones with a wider edge angle. So your thinking of getting a cleaver to preserve the Wusthof main knife is correct.

It sounds like you don’t chop bones very often. Those high quality cleavers you are thinking is mostly more Chinese chef who work in the BBQ station, and they chop bones and meat days in and days out.

Does it really matter to get a higher quality and more expensive BBQ chopper? Yes, it does. If you have a thick cleaver with a dull edge (solely rely on heavy to crush the bone), then you end up crushing the bones with bone splinter and fragments. I am sure you have experienced those situations before. Yet, you don’t chop bones all the time, so you may not want to spend too much neither.

My suggestion for you is that (if just cutting chicken bones), get a medium thick cleaver with a good weight behind it to get you the momentum, but you don’t want the edge dull neither. If the knife steel can support it, I would still keep the edge at least 25 if not 20 degree. I would definitely try a kitchen supply store and look for a knife with the right thickness. For your price point, a carbon steel will be better if you get it.

You live in SF, and there are plenty good stores to look for these mid price cleaver. If you can find a KF1401 or KF1402 that fit your budget, then go for it.

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Thanks for all the suggestions! Looks like a trip to Chinatown is in order. Let me take a look at what they have in stock.

@Chemicalkinetics what would you categorize as ‘medium thick’? and good weight? 1.5 pounds?

You said carbon steel is preferred- you are saying its preferred because of the price point, right?

Honestly, I use a $9 cleaver from my local asian market. It does the job. Nothing fancy needed to whack up bones.

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Hi sck,

Well, weight can be misleading because the handle contribute quite a bit to the weight of the knife. Anyway, I have taken a couple of photo. The top one is the thin blade CCK KF1303: ~0.5 lb, the middle one is CCK KF 1402 (~$70-80 at the time): 1 lb, and the bottom one is cheap bone cleaver (~$10): 1 lb

You can see the blade thickness are different for KF1303 vs KF1402:

I think going to a real store to handle the knives will give you a good idea. You want a knife with an ok weight, so you have momentum going to cut through the bone, but we are talking about chicken or duck bones, so you don’t need a thick cleaver. A cleaver with 3 mm thickness should be good, anything thicker than that is for tougher jobs. The 1.5 pound cleaver is start to get a little serious, like this:


Yeah. I mentioned carbon steel because of the price point. Usually, at the low price point (like $10-20), stainless steel knives are made of very soft steel. What you will find is that after you use the stainless steel cleaver a few times, the edge will get dent and deformed. At low price point, carbon steel knives are usually made of a little harder steel. I don’t really like that $10 cleaver or mine. It easier get dent, so I have fixed the edge, which requires time…etc.

Actually, you are looking between $50-80, so that advise is probably not necessary.

Well. I certainly don’t mind paying less if it gets the job done and has longevity. I just don’t want to buy crap that ends up not getting used.

But thank you for the very informative posts. BTW, any idea why CCK doubled its price in the last 5 years, other than that it could?

I own this one. It is a heavyweight beast, suitable for any type bones. You could probably find something similar from China for around $10.00. I also own another traditional Chinese cleaver with a thin, sharp blade. No one cleaver can do it all as well as two do.
or this one, it looks nice too:

exackly, no need to spend more

Don’t you mean “Egg Zackly”?

From a Keanu Reeves movie:
“Your breath smells zackly like your butt”

Yeah. I would suggest get a cleaver with an ok weight, but not necessary super heavy since you are not using it against real thick bones. If you want to spend less, then you tend to able to find better quality cheap carbon steel knives than cheap stainless steel knives. If you have a friend in the business, then ask of his/her opinion. There is no question that a high quality cleaver is better than a cheap cleaver. I have both. I know there is a noticeable difference. The problem is that you won’t be using this all the time, only 2-3 times a year…(you said, right?). So is it worth? Or maybe you are comfortable to spend a little extra anyway, so then don’t think about it too much. I sometime do that too. I often spend $30-40 on other unworthy thing that spending an extra $30-40 for a good cookware or knife seems like a much better move. For example, I bought at least two $30-40 video games more than a year ago that I still haven’t opened the box yet.

I am not sure, but I have seen CCK knives price went up almost double. When I first got my thin blade CCK KF1303, it was ~$35-40 on internet and in stores. Now, they are going at $70-80. It is possible that the CCK knives have gotten more famous and demands have increased.

I found the same thing with a few brands too. Tanaka prices have gone up a little too. I got a Tanaka nakiri for $40 a few years back. I was quiet happy for a high quality steel (blue steel) for only $40. Now, it is $75:


On the other hand, Tojiro’s knives seem to have slightly gone down by 20% or so.

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