Why Is There a Hole in a Meat Cleaver?

Four pieces of uncooked red meat next to a huge meat cleaver


Why is there a hole in a meat cleaver?

  • Safe Hanging and Easy Access.
  • Pulling Free When Stuck.
  • Reduce Friction.
  • Aesthetic Purposes.

Long cleaver knife with black handle surrounded by raw meat
The Gladiator Series R “Annihilator' 14'' cleaver

What You’ll Learn in This Article

  1. Why Is There a Hole in a Meat Cleaver?
  2. Reasons for the Hole
  3. Uses of a Cleaver
  4. Cleaver Recommendations
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
A Chinese cleaver next to uncooked chicken on a black plate

Chop. Chop. Chop.

A dinner date. You opted to cook for her instead of eating out.

So you’ve just defrosted your full chicken and it’s time to cut it. Your best ally?

The meat cleaver.

Within no time, your chicken is cut and ready to cook.

Oh! The glorious satisfaction that comes from splitting bones and large pieces of meat into smaller chunks. Fast. Easy. Fun.

Since their invention in the Acheulean period, meat cleavers have prevailed as a requisite and versatile instrument for cutting through animal bone.

As a useful chopper knife-edge tool, the cleaver has found love in a butcher’s heart. This heavy-duty tool has a handle for grip, attached to a huge rectangular stainless steel blade with a hole at the top far end.

Whether slicing or dicing, delivery of the task at hand will depend on your choice of tool to use. What’s on top of your chopping board determines the kind of knife you need in hand.


But then, every time you have picked the cleaver to use it, you’ve asked yourself why it has a hole. Or your kids have asked you and you got tongue-tied.

So we’ve come to your rescue — we’re dishing the answers.

1. Why Is There a Hole in a Meat Cleaver?

Chinese cleaver next to sliced medium rare meat on a dark surface

Phantom Series 8" 'The Crixus' Chef - Cleaver Hybrid Knife

We, as humans are prone to speculations, and a meat cleaver hasn’t escaped the claws of knife theories. After all, the hole in a butcher’s cleaver is distinct. Since no maker of knives would drill a hole for fun, buyers have had a stab at the speculation game.

As a result, every enthusiast of this tool has at some point conjured up a reason for the tiny hole chipped on the blade. Some remain confident with their guesses, although most are not quite sure. You likely have an idea too.

The most common speculations are:

  • Hanging after use.
  • Reduce the weight of the blade.
  • Prevent the meat from sticking.
  • Sophisticated design.
  • Part of the original maker’s signature left on their craftsmanship.
  • Run a wooden or metallic dowel through.

You can add your own guess to the above list.

Now let’s get to the intended purpose of the hole and see whether you’re right.

2. Reasons for the hole in a meat cleaver

Mini cleaver with black handle next to a cutting board filled with chopped vegetables of different colors
Gladiator Series 4.5'' Mini Cleaver

Safe Hanging and Easy Access

Leaving a meat cleaver lying around after use could be dangerous. You don’t want a huge knife falling off your kitchen worktop and landing on your feet.

Also, what can you do with a big blade that doesn’t fit on knife magnets or drawers?

It takes up a considerable amount of space. Thus, you need to keep it at a convenient spot after use. And that’s where the hole comes in. It allows for the safe hanging of your blade on a wall.

The positioning of the hole also ensures easy retrieving when hung from elevated heights. You don’t have to strain — standing on your toes. The same applies to when you are hanging it after use.

Some butchers also use the hole to hang their butchers’ cleavers on their belts when at work.

Pulling Free When Stuck

Ever used a knife to cut through tough meat or bone but then the blade stuck inside? It happens a lot of times when hacking through bone. Knives sometimes get stuck inside a chunk of frozen meat too.

You don’t want a wrestling session with a stuck blade. You need a neat and clean hack without tiny shards of bone littering the meat.

The hole on the heavy-duty blade makes cutting through bone easy. The hole enables you to hold the upper part with your fingers. As you reinforce your grip on the handle, you are able to pull the blade free.

This saves you tons of energy, time, and frustration.

Reduce Friction

When cutting through bone, friction may trigger unwanted shards which can cause choking.

Fortunately, the ‘aeration’ in meat cleavers reduces friction. This prevents bone shards while making the use of this high carbon tool easy and enjoyable.

Aesthetic Purposes

When it comes to aesthetics, what you see leaves an imprint on your psyche, either delightful or displeasing. It’s the reason product design is important, as it informs human preferences.

A cleaver is a large heavy-duty knife varying in shape, mostly designed with a rectangular stainless steel blade.

Dalstrong Knives has stayed ahead of the curve by redesigning their products. These products are attractive to the eye. The Dalstrong cleaver has a beautiful hand polished satin finish blade.

Add to it a tapered design for hardness and flexibility.

This same logic applies to the hole in meat cleavers as it gives the knife a suave and stylish look. This ensures that you’ll enjoy using it while showcasing your edgy personality.

3. Uses of a Cleaver

An selection of sliced cheeses garlic and olives on a plate next to a mini black cleaver
Shadow Black Series 4.5" Mini Cleaver Knife - NSF Certified

Now that you know the purpose of the tiny hole, let’s look at why you need this stainless steel kitchen tool.

Cleavers are best for hacking through bone. Yet as much as this may be the primary reason, there are other uses for it such as;

Sectioning Chicken

The cleaver features a sharp, long blade that’s perfect for trimming the skin and fat. It’s also great for slicing the fleshy parts into smaller chunks. The thick and heavy-duty spine allows for cutting through poultry bones. But remember, all knives need proper maintenance to stay consistently sharp.

The knife also makes it easier to cut the difficult parts. You can separate the ribs, chop through the bones, and crack the bones. You can also use the flat side of the blade to tenderize cutlets and flatten the chicken thighs.

Slicing Vegetables and Cutting Fruits

You might think because you’re a vegetarian that you can’t benefit from this outstanding knife. The cleaver is not only used to cut and chop meat but also vegetables. You can use it to slice hard vegetables such as butternuts and squash. Some chefs use them to crack coconuts too. They can also be used to crush garlic, ginger, or lemongrass.

Apart from vegetables, the cleaver can be used to slice fruits such as watermelons and pineapples.

Other benefits include;

  • It puts power and control in your hands to separate ribs and chop pieces with ease.
  • It provides a long-lasting and affordable cutting solution. You only need to buy one and you’ll rarely need to replace it.
  • Increased earnings. Well-cut and dressed chops are more expensive compared to uncut meat. Thus, the butcher cleaver allows a butcher to charge a pretty penny for perfectly cut slices.
  • The fact that it’s serviceable without any need for special skills.
  • You can use the round handle as a pestle for grinding spices.
  • You can use the flat edge to crush and flatten ingredients during food preparation.

4. Cleaver Recommendations

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘cleaver’? Is it the Shun Classic Meat Cleaver? Or maybe the Wusthof Classic? While those have attained notoriety over the years, we at Dalstrong believe that it’s time to innovate. That’s why we came up with this nifty little guide to present you some of the most forward-thinking cleaver knives Dalstrong has to offer.

Let’s take a peek:


Shadow Black Series 9" Cleaver Knife - NSF Certified ($79.99)

Shadow Black Series 9" Cleaver Knife - NSF Certified

We start off this list with an absolute stunner. With its pitch-black titanium coating and an ergonomic handle inspired by the F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter, this fine piece of knifemaking will effortlessly cut through thick meat and soft bones, leaving virtually no debris on your cutting board. In addition, it also features a ruthless, high carbon 7CR17MOV-X vacuum-treated steel blade for optimal performance and maximum durability.


  • Innovative design.
  • Excellent edge retention.
  • Ideal for tackling large cuts of meat.


  • More conservative chefs might prefer the look of a traditional knife.
  • Its price point might be a bit high for casual home cooks.
  • At 9”, it can feel a little overwhelming for people with small hands.

Phantom Series 8" 'The Crixus' Chef - Cleaver Hybrid Knife ($69.99)

Phantom Series 8" 'The Crixus' Chef - Cleaver Hybrid Knife

A hybrid between a chef’s knife and a cleaver, ‘The Crixus’ really has the best of both worlds. Featuring a curved profile that will allow you to delicately make your way through skin, beef bone, and tissue, its hefty blade can also act as a cleaver, aiding you in your sectioning and portioning activities.

But this heavy duty cleaver is not limited to home butchers and BBQ aficionados - its precision-forged Japanese steel blade also excels at cutting, dicing, and slicing fruits and veggies, giving the ubiquitous Chinese vegetable cleaver a run for its money in the culinary process.


  • Precision-forged blade with premium Japanese AUS-8 at 58 HRC.
  • Added chromium for stain resistance.
  • Cleans easily.


  • More conservative chefs will prefer separate knives for each task.
  • Might be a bit of overkill if you don’t do your own butchering at home.
  • If you don’t work with large proteins, this might not be the knife for you. 

Gladiator Series 4.5" Mini Cleaver ($49.97)


Gladiator Series 4.5" Mini Cleaver 

Now, the Gladiator Series 4.5” Mini Cleaver might be small but it sure packs a punch. Made from a single-piece, high carbon German ThyssenKrupp Steel, it will surely become a trusted companion on your outdoor adventures due to its convenient portability. Home chefs will also benefit from this Lilliputian beauty as its short blade offers more control over the cutting process, allowing you to chop beef, cured meats, and vegetables, and mince garlic and herbs.


  • Highly portable.
  • Edge painstakingly hand sharpened to 16-18° per side.
  • Military grade G10 wooden handle.


  • Not ideal for cutting large pieces of meat.
  • At 4.5”, it might be too small for people with bigger hands.
  • BBQ pitmasters might prefer a larger knife.

Gladiator Series 7" Cleaver Knife ($59.99)

Gladiator Series 7" Cleaver Knife

Similar in style to a Chinese cleaver, the Gladiator Series 7” Cleaver Knife is not only a trusted kitchen workhorse but also an excellent bench scraper. The extra-wide blade can produce seamless cuts on boneless meats, poultry, and even hard vegetables, and instantly deliver them to their destination. 


  • Robust, full-tang, German ThyssenKrupp Steel blade at 56+ Rockwell.
  • Can also work as a makeshift bench scraper.
  • The handle just tucks into your palm.


  • Some chefs will prefer a longer blade to work with larger proteins.
  • Not ideal for butchering.
  • If you’re looking for a heavy cleaver, this might not be the one for you.

Gladiator Series 'Obliterator' 9" Meat Cleaver with Stand ($99.99)

Gladiator Series 'Obliterator' 9" Meat Cleaver with Stand

Inspired by medieval weaponry, the ‘Obliterator’ will crush anything in its path with scalpel-like precision. Not even those spare ribs from last Sunday’s BBQ could stand a chance. Owning this remarkable piece of artisanship will change the way you approach cooking, putting a smile on your face while you absolutely annihilate beef with large bones, poultry, and even tough-skinned fruits and veggies.  


  • High-carbon 7CR17MOV Steel blade.
  • Edge painstakingly hand sharpened to 16-18° per side
  • Gorgeous handcrafted acacia wood stand.


  • The price point might be a little high for casual home chefs.
  • People with smaller hands will prefer a smaller cleaver.
  • Believe it or not, its awesome looks might be a bit of a turnoff for some folks.

Shadow Black Series 4.5" Mini Cleaver Knife - NSF Certified ($59.99)

Shadow Black Series 4.5" Mini Cleaver Knife - NSF Certified

A miniature version of the first item on our list, the Shadow Black Series Mini Cleaver Knife is a pint-sized killer, the perfect sidekick for all your cutting and chopping activities. Don’t be fooled by its size, though - at 4.5”, its high-carbon German steel blade is designed for brutal efficiency. Add a pitch-black Titanium Nitride coating and you’ve got a badass-looking knife that is sure to impress anyone who enters your kitchen.


  • Avant-garde design.
  • Portable and lightweight.
  • Unique handle geometry.


  • Not ideal for working with large cuts of meat.
  • Chefs with bigger hands might opt for a larger cleaver knife.
  • Some chefs might prefer a more traditional-looking knife. 

7. The Gladiator Series R “Annihilator” Cleaver Knife

7. The Gladiator Series R “Annihilator” Cleaver Knife

    We end this list by kicking things into high gear. Fresh out of the oven, The Gladiator Series R “Annihilator” Cleaver Knife is a merciless warrior. Large bones, dense bone, thick pieces of meat - nothing gets between the “Annihilator” and its prey. With an intimidating 14” high-carbon 7cr17mov Steel blade, you can now take care of all your butchering needs at home, never to return to the butcher shop again.


    • Its massive blade is heat-treated to 60HRC for maximum sharpness.
    • The military grade G10 handle is impervious to heat, cold, and moisture.
    • Comes with a stylish handcrafted acacia wood stand.


    • At 14”, it might be a little tricky to operate for people with small hands.
    • Some home chefs might find its blade length a bit excessive.
    • Its menacing look might not sit well with more conservative chefs.

    5. Frequently Asked Questions

    Do I Need a Meat Cleaver?

    The answer is a resounding yes. While you might be able to get away with butchering using a chef’s knife, that irresponsible task could eventually reduce your knife’s lifespan and utility, resulting in a blunt edge. Owning a high-quality meat cleaver will allow you to enhance your cooking process while making the whole experience much more pleasant and efficient.

    What Is the Difference Between a Butcher Knife and Cleaver?

    Although quite similar (some people even consider the cleaver as a type of butcher knife), the difference lies in the size and purpose. Cleavers usually possess taller blades and are intended to perform heavy duty tasks like cutting through bone and cartilage. On the other hand, butcher knives are similar in size to a chef’s knife and are better for trimming, slicing, and even skinning pieces of raw meat. Both are essential parts of a butcher’s arsenal.


     Written by Pablo Perez

    When he's not adding way too much butter to his recipes, Pablo likes to write about knives, music, food, cinema, and all of the other things that make life worth living.

    Why Is There a Hole in a Meat Cleaver?

    Table of Content