Why Does My Cleaver Have a Hole in It?

made in cleaver
Made In

Welcome to Further Details, a series dedicated to ubiquitous but overlooked elements hidden on your favorite products. This week: that mysterious hole in your cleaver.

Every kitchen should have a chef's knife. But when it comes to breaking down hard things — like bones or hard-skinned vegetables — a cleaver is the way to go. Cleavers are a heavyweight knife with a rectangular blade that's perfect for chopping through things a typical chef's knife can't. They also have a peculiar feature that other knives don't have: a hole in the blade. But what is it for? Don't worry, your knife isn't defective — it's just a thoughtful detail to save space.

That hole in your cleaver is a way for you to hang the knife when not in use. It's as simple as that. Cleavers are way too big to store in a knife block (though you should really be storing your knives on a knife bar), and if you throw them into a kitchen drawer, they're going to end up cutting you by accident or getting dull over time. Butchers have loved cleavers for centuries, and hanging them by the blade keeps a workstation clear while being easy (and safe) to grab by the handle.

cleaver hanging on a hook
Butchers have used the hole in their cleaver to hang them from meat hooks for easy access.
JuergenBosseGetty Images

Other theories about the hole include: reducing the weight of the knife (how much weight do you actually lose from that tiny hole?), preventing meat from sticking (the hole isn't even close to where it would make contact with meat) and using it as leverage to pull the knife out when it gets stuck in something (you don't need a hole to do that). As Occam's razor posits, the simplest theory is true: It's just a way to hang!

Now that you know what the hole in the cleaver is for, it's time to get one for yourself. Whether you need to butcher a chicken, break down carcasses (of the edible variety) or chop some vegetables, the cleaver will be the workhorse of your kitchen. And you already know where you'll store it.

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