Cleavers are probably the toughest knives you have in your cutlery collection. They’re perfect for cleanly hacking through solid chicken carcasses and thick beef joints, allowing their weight and gravity to do most of the heavy lifting. But not all of them are made equal. To tackle the really tough jobs, you need one with full tang construction.
So what does that mean exactly? It describes how the metal blade runs completely through the end of the handle rather than getting lopped off. And that makes a difference. Not only will it have a heftier weight that makes any job more efficient, but it makes the blade more resilient to forceful impact. That means it will last longer and you can rest assured it won’t simply fall apart when the going gets tough.
To help you make a smart addition to your knife array, we’ve curated a list of our top four picks available on Amazon.
1. Route83 Meat Cleaver
Handcrafted from German steel, Route83’s cleaver has a beautiful artisanal look thanks to its hammered blade. Its solid full tang construction has been expertly balanced so it is effortless and efficient to use no matter what you’re prepping. Measuring a full 9 inches in length, its front is slightly thinner compared to the rear to increase leverage for additional ease of use. But just because so much thought went into the forging of the blade doesn’t mean the handle has been neglected. Carved from beautiful hardwood, it has a natural oil finish that is sure to gain a rich patina with time.
2. Yoshihiro Chinese Cleaver
Forged from high-carbon steel for strength and flexibility, Yoshihiro’s full tang model was made to the highest standards of quality. Made with 61-62 Rockwell hardness, its blade is also forged with iron to create a beautiful mist pattern called Kasumi along the side. The rich hardwood handle encompasses the full tang construction and is riveted together into an ergonomic package. Its proportions give it exceptional versatility meaning it can nimbly dice through a stack of crisp vegetables as quickly as it can hack through the backbone of a whole chicken.
3. Wüsthof Classic Full Tang Cleaver
Wüsthof is renowned for its expertise when it comes to crafting blades and its cleaver doesn’t disappoint. With a blade measuring 6 inches in length, it is among the shorter options on our list, but that can be a plus for cooks with a shorter reach or those who prefer using it for particular applications. Forged from high-carbon steel, it is especially tough and can retain a sharp edge for far longer than most others; plus, with a blade edge measuring 14 degrees, you won’t have to work hard for it to power through foods. Its smooth, full tang handle is riveted for a comfortable grip and ergonomically shaped to further enhance that effect.
4. Kessaku Dynasty Series Cleaver
Kessaku’s stunning cleaver takes the best of traditional Japanese blade-making techniques and applies them to this piece fit for the finest kitchens. Because it is forged from layers of Damascus steel, it has a beautiful wave pattern throughout and measures 62 on the Rockwell hardness scale. That same steel is also highly resistant to corrosion and stays razor-sharp for ages without dulling. The fiber-resin handle is heat, cold, moisture and impact resistant, not to mention made incredibly smooth and ergonomic so it feels more like an extension of your hand—exactly as it should.