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OKC Cleaver

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I'm new to the site and would like to start by saying how interesting it's already been. People know there stuff and/or have had helpful opinions. Thanks already for your expertise (and sometimes entertainment)
Down to business...
OKC old hickory 7" cleaver. There's a reason (apart from the practical splitting of chicken joints thing) that i'm drawn to it. Not sure what it is. There must be a word for it...It's not nostalgia. Maybe the price is such that i'm not daunted by it. Which might make it fun, satisfying? to use. Also, it's a somewhat local company. And i have a preference for carbon steel.
I probably will order it. Anybody have experience with its steel/edge? Recommendations about angle or stone grit would be helpful. How's the factory edge?
...there's that word I'm looking for's on the tip of my thoughts...
post #2 of 5

For the benefit of those not familiar with "Old Hickory Knives," OKC stands for Ontario Knife Company which makes them. 


The right bevel angle(s) for your cleaver depends to some extent on how you plan to use it, to an even greater extent on how you sharpen, and perhaps -- mostly -- to the thickness of the cleaver and how acute an angle you can actually sharpen.  Old Hickorys have undergone some changes in the last few years, knife thicknesses are a lot more consistent, and usually thinner, but I just don't know for sure what's up with the cleavers. 


Cleavers take a lot of abuse and often work best with some sort of multi-bevel.  Assuming you're a freehand sharpener, try something like a 15* secondary bevel (the bevel between the cutting bevel and knife face) and a 22.5* primary (cutting) micro-bevel on top. 


Just to make things clear, my angle numbers aren't a prescription to run out and get a digital angle finder.  By 15* I mean as thin as as you can get without moving a substantial amount of metal and by 22.5* I mean holding the knife vertical to the stone, halving the angle to roughly 45*, then halving that to roughly 22.5*.  The operative concepts -- especially with a tool as crude as a heavy cleaver -- are keeping things practical and understanding that "roughly" and "precisely" are different things.


If you can't get the knife much thinner than 20* just go with that rough and ready 22.5*.  Bear in mind that we're talking about a cleaver and not eye-surgery scalpels. 


The first part of maintaining a cleaver's edge is not something you do, but something you don't.  Don't swing your cleaver like an axe.  Put the edge where you want it to cleave, put your offhand along the cleaver's spine, and lean on the knife while rocking it slightly.  If you use an ordinary board, hacking will wreck both the knife and your board. 



post #3 of 5

i have one and i love it. it's an old 10 inch chef knife. =D

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 


i feel like I've read something similar from someone else (maybe BDL?). Coming from both of you, it bodes well. Even if we're comparing different knives, it sounds like the company has made some decent knives.


thanks for your insight. That was the type of info I was looking for...rough numbers and general strategy. I'll try 22.5 primary and 15 secondary (approximately, of course). If that doesn't work for me, i'll try something else. If I can qualify or quantify results, I'll update the thread. And, Thanks for reminding me not to get carried away with the knife. I'm sure my wife will appreciate me not being cavalier with a half pound piece of sharp steel. I'll admit that part of me was starting to feel very "liberal" about the upcoming cleaver lifestyle...start smoking gauloises in the kitchen again while de-boning chickens directly on the butcher block countertop and drinking wine...wrong century, I guess.

ah well,



liberté toujours!

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

Just as an update,

I got the knife a few days after the original post. I was quite pleased with how it felt and what it looked like. I soon used it to cut some frozen chicken with satisfying results. It came with a primary and secondary bevel...and a wicked burr. Just over 10 degree secondary and not sure about the primary (maybe close to 22.5?). A few days ago, i finally got to trying to get the secondary bevel aligned with the knife edge. The secondary's grind was straighter than the curved profile of the knife. So, one can imagine how the bevel gets lost near the tip and heel. I'm sure there's a more straightforward and technical way to describe this, but my sharpening and knife anatomy vocabulary are still fairly underdeveloped. Anyway, after some time on some coarse stones, it's starting to get there. I've kept the secondary angle and gave it something close to a 20 degree primary. I won't get too fastidious about it because it's not meant to be a knife about finesse, but I'll try to get it closer as time goes by. I think it'll make it more consistent and easier to sharpen in the future.

Overall, I'm very happy with it despite the imperfect finish OOTB. It's more than what I had hoped for at that price. It's a scrappy little cleaver and looks great in my kitchen.

thanks all for the help

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