A meat cleaver is an essential implement in any large well-stocked kitchen. Meat cleavers are butchering implements but can be used for more than just hacking through large pieces of meat and bones. Getting the right size meat cleaver to suit your needs is not complicated.
Start by knowing the difference between a meat cleaver and a Chinese cleaver. The two implements are nearly identical. Larger Chinese cleavers can be wielded like a meat cleaver, but the less expensive Chinese cleavers have stainless-steel blades and not the heavier, more expensive high-carbon steel of a meat cleaver.
Get the right size cleaver to do the intended duty. A huge butcher-shop-sized cleaver is unnecessary for the average kitchen. Although the size is impressive, large (five pounds or more) cleavers are not suited for home use.
Spend the extra money for a high-quality meat cleaver. A good-quality blade will last a lifetime and is money well spent. The high-carbon steel of a well-crafted meat cleaver blade can be sharpened with a much finer edge and will hold up well against bones and hard chopping.
Check fit and material of the handle to be certain the meat cleaver's handle is made of a top-quality material. A cleaver's handle should fit comfortably in the hand and allow for maximum grip. The handle should also be long enough to counter balance the weight of the blade. Test the fit of the cleaver before buying.
Buy a meat cleaver for butchering. The meat cleaver is a butcher's tool, and it is not for cutting up already portioned meats. A meat cleaver is the tool for anyone who does a lot of home butchering, but not appropriate for everyday cutting and slicing.
Do not buy the cheaper Chinese cleaver as they are two different kinds of cutlery.