In contrast to other kitchen knives, the cleaver has an especially tough edge meant to withstand repeated blows directly into thick meat and dense cartilage and even bone.
In contrast to all other kitchen tools but one, a meat tenderizer, it is the only one designed to be swung like a hammer.
The edge of a meat cleaver does not need to be particularly sharp, because the knife's design, like that of a hatchet or an axe, relies on sheer momentum to cut efficiently, to slash straight through rather than slicing in a sawing motion. Part of the momentum derives from how hard you swing, of course, and the other part derives from how heavy the cleaver is.
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