De-bellying veggie cleaver? (Or re-profiling?)

Joined Feb 9, 2018

Quick introduction: I'm 40 years old guy from EU who likes to cook at home. About year ago I realized I had lived my life using crappy market blades and what's worse DULL at those. So I decided to remedy situation by getting decent knife and learning to sharpen it. I chose to go with Chinese cleavers (slicers) because they looked exotic and I liked the ability to scoop ingredients. I ended up getting Victorinox Chinese cook knife. Was happy with it at first, but then same thing happened what happens with cars to some people. FEVER to get new, better, heavier, even if you don't necessary need one. I propably don't have to explain this, I suppose most people here know exactly what I'm talking about. So now I have Tojiro F-921 (vg 10 I suppose?) to accompany Victorinox. I've been relatively happy with both, but there's something that's bugging me a bit; now and then I get accordion when (I work with vegetables only) cutting even though both blades are still in good shape and sharp enough. So finally we get to the question itself (about time, I know) :

1: Is it about my handling skills that are lacking, or do I need a flat blade?

Now I've noticed that most cleavers have some belly on them. Moritaka seems to be one of the few (maybe only one?) which seems dead flat to me. That would lead me to conclusion that I just need to hone my skills to remedy my problem because there's so few flat options and still cleavers are so widely used. But it's build in me to complicate matters, so I decided to try another option. Before I rush to buy Moritaka (which I propably will do eventually anyway, and don't say I haven't deserved it because 20 years of cooking with friggin dull market knives!!!) I'd like try flat blade with cheaper option. I have this too front heavy, cheap, Winco stainless cleaver I figured I would flatten out to test this. My second question:

2: Does this kind of reshaping ( I would remove metal until blade is flat and then re-sharpen and maybe thinning it a bit) destroy blade geometry somehow and can or should it be tried without machinery of anykind?

I have Atoma 140 diamond plate and Shapton Pro 320,1k,2k and 5k stones at my disposal plus some old metal files. Now I'm not affraid of challenge, but I'd like to know if I'm approaching this from wrong angle.

Your thoughts on this, ladies and gentlemen?

Ps: I'm in no shred of imagination good at sharpening, but I'm getting hold of it and yearning to learn more.
Joined Dec 18, 2010
I'll bet there are very different answers depending upon one's personal experience and preference.

I find in both Chinese vegetable-type cleavers and Western Chef knives to have a strong avoidance of dead-flat blades. I find them to cause just as many cutting problems, like "accordion-ing" and other incomplete cuts, and forces me to focus more on making sure the knife falls fully flat on the cutting board. Too much thinking for the task at hand. :) In general I prefer some amount of belly to a blade - ranging from slight belly (French profile chef knife) to what is called around here "excessive belly" (German profile chef knife). My cutting technique tends to have a bit of a rock and roll to it rather than being stiff-wristed.

For paring knives, however, I've done what you are thinking about and ground out the belly to make them dead flat. Better for cutting-in-the-hand in my experience.

So to answer your questions:
1. I think (my opinion) it may be your technique. I don't think a flat blade is necessary or desirable (my opinion) to get good clean cuts. There are other factors to consider, though, that affect the cutting geometry -- ergonomics, such as how you are holding the knife, how tall you are, how high the counter is (including the cutting board) and that relationship.
2. Not sure what "blade geometry" would get destroyed if you also do the proper thinning when you put the new edge on it... but I'm sure others may have more to say on that. I stay away from power tools when doing anything with the knife cutting edge. A coarse stone will do the job quickly enough. Metal files... put them back in the toolbox. :)

In general I don't think your approaching from the wrong angle. But consider some of the other factors first and then do what you need to do. The Winco would be the perfect candidate to flatten and see if that solves your dilemma.
Joined Feb 9, 2018
Files back in the toolbox : check

Good pointers. Reading your posts and that thread behind link made me realize that I actually don't pay much, if at all, attention how I cut. I chop and push- and pullcut, but it's all more like "Let it go, Luke"-kind of action where I just expect sharp knife to do all the work, while I just hang on the handle. Especially with the Tojiro, since it's quite heavy. And yes benuser, it is quite flat tbh.

I use cuttingboard made out of bamboo. How much is that affecting?
Joined Sep 26, 2017
You're using the wrong cutting technique for the knife.

Even though it seems like it, cutting with a Chinese cleaver is not just a simple up and down motion. There's a slight rocking/slicing involved.
Joined Apr 25, 2014
Should work just fine with a push cut if you start in the front half or back half of the cleaver. Starting in the middle with a belly you need to rock a little at the end to make contact with the raised heel.

That's my experience with a suien vc, one of the more big belly cleavers. I don't have to rock at all with my other cleavers. I also have a flattened out suien vc so yes it is possible. Just do the middle part with a coarse stone more every time you sharpen. Over time it'll flatten out. It's easy on carbon steel.

You're not the first to consider flattening it. Same cleaver, left is flattened, right is not:

I use both.
Last edited:
Joined Feb 9, 2018

Thank you all for very instructive responses. Going to start paying more attention on technique. I still might flat out that winco just out of practice and see how it comes out. Can't really spend too much time with the stones at this stage.

Millionknives, got couple questions for you:

How do you find it flat vs belly, noticeable difference in amount of unclean cuts?

Do you have opinion on different steels on cleavers, some working much better than the rest?

I read lot of good stuff on Suien VC, it's just that belly has scared heck out of me :)
Joined Sep 26, 2017
Watch this if you have time to spare. You'll learn a lot about different cutting techniques using the Chinese cleaver.

Top Bottom