Work Horse

Chef in Jeans January 31, 2013 Cuisine, NLU STORE 4 Comments on Work Horse

One of my first posts was about choosing the right knife for you, but I tried not to endorse any one particular knife simply because I did not feel comfortable doing so at the time, but after receiving a new, cheap, knife as a gift a few months back I’m willing to do that.

The knife I received was a Joyce Chen Chinese style cleaver.  Its simple, its effective, its affordable.

This is a good knife for simple every day use for a few reasons.  Firstly its affordable.  With a price tag right around $25 its not going to break anyone’s bank. Even if you buy it and hate it and completely disagree with me, you’re not out very much money.   This also means you can beat the shit out of this knife and not feel to bad about it.

Secondly its solid.  Its a HEAVY knife, this makes it very good for cutting through not only small delicate things like parsley or scallions, but also sturdy hard things like large pieces of beef or butternut squash.

Thirdly it takes an edge well.  I run the edge 10 times, on each side, on a grinding wheel and that puts a damn nice functional edge on it.  Its not going to be a razor sharp sharp edge that’ll make your brand new Gillette look like small potatoes, but it will get 99% of what you need done, done.

Lastly, it has a small handle.  This sounds like a bad thing BUT when using a knife properly for slicing, dicing, ect you aren’t supposed to use the “handle” as a handle.   The smaller handle will force beginners to hold the knife properly and prevent the number one newbie mistake of grabbing the knife like a joystick.

When holding a knife properly you should pinch the base of the blade between your thumb and the second knuckle of your index finger

This isnt the knife I’m talking about, its a shitty knife my buddy owns but you get the idea


The knife also has some cons as well, as is to be expected with a cheap knife, but I like these downsides because they’ll force a beginner to adapt and learn so when they graduate to an expensive high quality knife they’re ready to use it to its full potential.

The metal isn’t very high quality, this is why it takes an edge so well, because the metal is soft.  This also means it will lose the edge quickly as well.  Invest in a cheap sharpener, a simple manual convenience sharpener will do just fine.  If you’ve got the dime and the time get a whetstone, waterstone, or a sharpening wheel.

Another con is that the knife rolls to one side when cutting through something, this is due the knife having a hollow ground blade, which is done so because its a cheaper manufacturing method.  Why I like this for beginners is that it teaches you to control your knife.  You can overcome this listing effect as you slice through something large with a firm grip and some conscious effort.

The last con is that the knife has a very thick spine that WILL be uncomfortable at first and will make your index finger sore, chaffed, and eventually calloused if you use it often.  The upside to this is that once that callous is there it acts like armor and will prevent any future discomfort, especially when you move on to a higher quality knife with a thinner blade.


All in all this knife is a great knife for culinary newbies and veterans alike and I would highly recommend it to anyone in the market for an affordable piece of cutlery.


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About The Author

Ripping the frills and flowers out of learning to cook and putting it into terms that men understand.


  1. Cakes February 3, 2013 at 6:25 am

    Good post. I have some questions, if you don’t mind: What kind of knife/knives would you recommend if someone were willing to splash out a bit extra? I say this because I am done with cheap kitchen knives because the last set I bought, the handles came off, the blades ended up with small chunks out of the edges after a while etc…. and basically I want to get something more durable. Are cleavers good for chopping small, fine stuff as well as e.g. meat? Also, is it true that you shouldn’t put them through the dishwasher because it isn’t good for the blade?

  2. Chef in Jeans February 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Wusthof and Henckles make really good knives, I’d highly recommend those if you’re looking to spend a little more coin.

    Cleavers CAN do fine work if you can make them do fine work. I peel potatoes and chiffonade herbs with the same cleaver I talked about here. Granted smaller French or Japanese style chef knives would do the job easier, it can be done.

    And yes, dishwashers are bad for knives for two reasons. Firstly it knocks them around, and things impacting, or the knife impacting other things, can damage the edge. High temperature washers can actually fundamentally change the composition of the metal reducing over all quality of the knife.

  3. cakes February 10, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Thanks for the tips! I will investigate both brands. I think my knife skills are possibly not up to peeling potatoes with a cleaver, I don’t want to lose any fingers 🙂

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