The Tanto: A Damascus Steel Cleaver for Meat & Cheese Boards

The Damascus steel cleaver is an exquisite addition to any chef’s or home cook’s knife range. It is a conversation piece about metalworking tradition, now reimagined for the modern culinary enthusiast. With a Damascus steel blade, the home chef is just another slice away from gourmet creation.

Making Damascus steel

At the core of every Damascus steel cleaver is the ancient technique of pattern welding, which has been refined over centuries. High carbon steel, renowned for its hardness and edge retention, forms the backbone of these blades.

Master bladesmiths fold and forge multiple layers of steel, creating a resilient and flexible composite. This labour-intensive process forms the striking patterns that Damascus Steel is famous for, resembling the flowing waters of the Athabasca River that wind through Jasper, AB, Canada.

Features of a Damascus steel cleaver

A Damascus steel cleaver is not merely defined by its composite materials but also by its thoughtful design. The blade length, typically 6 to 8 inches, is deliberately chosen to offer versatility across various cutting tasks—from dicing herbs to cleaving through harder vegetables.

Each cleaver boasts a unique, water-streaked design, representing true Damascus steel. This isn't just an aesthetic choice; the intricate patterning also creates micro-serrations on the blade's edge, contributing to a sharper and more durable cutting edge.

Ergonomic design for comfort and efficiency

The true beauty of a Damascus cleaver knife lies in its ergonomic knife handle. Designed to provide a comfortable grip, these handles complement the powerful functionality of the blade. The handle length is carefully balanced to ensure that each cutting motion is both controlled and comfortable, reducing hand fatigue during prolonged use—ideal for professional chefs and enthusiastic home cooks alike.

Balancing forms and function

But the perfect marriage of form and function sets a Damascus cleaver knife apart. The blade's curved edge demonstrates this, allowing for a rocking motion that chefs covet for efficient chopping and mincing. This curvature is elegant and functional, making quick work of even the toughest cuts. Damascus steel's inherent qualities and ergonomic design make it an unparalleled choice for those seeking performance and comfort.

BigHorn Steel’s Tanto

BigHorn Steel Damascus steel Tanto cleaver

The BigHorn Steel Tanto Cleaver is a full-tang Damascus knife that blends form and function, ideal for enhancing cheese trays and charcuterie boards. It features a Tanto-style blade for precise slicing and boasts a thick, durable construction for balanced handling.

This knife is practical and makes a thoughtful gift for culinary enthusiasts, combining traditional craftsmanship with elegance. Care instructions include rinsing under water, drying, and oiling the blade to maintain its appearance and functionality. Safety precautions are advised, especially when storing and handling the knife.

Choosing your Damascus steel cleaver

When selecting the right Damascus steel cleaver, you must consider certain attributes to ensure you're investing in a tool that will stand the test of time and enhance your daily kitchen experience.

What to look for in a quality Damascus knife

A top-notch Damascus knife is an amalgamation of superior materials and expert craftsmanship. Here's what a professional chef would keep an eye out for:

  • High-quality Damascus steel: Seek out cleavers with high carbon content, indicating a stronger, more reliable blade.
  • Durable handle material: Walnut, acrylic, bone, antler, and Micarta are organic and synthetic handle materials that will last as long as the blade.
  • Handmade knives: Each blade tells a story of the bladesmith’s meticulous effort, making it a tool and a piece of art. For example, BigHorn Steel’s blades are folded 512 times, ensuring the highest quality blade available.

Kitchen cleaver design

Choosing a Damascus steel kitchen cleaver is pivotal in a chef's journey. Here's how a Damascus cleaver can elevate your cooking:

  • Ergonomic handle: Ensures a natural fit in the hand, promoting comfort during repetitive motion.
  • Full-tang construction: Balances the knife and ensures it can withstand heavy-duty chopping.

The Damascus steel cleaver, in brief

The following table underscores the remarkable features of a Damascus steel cleaver and illustrates the direct benefits these features provide to the user.



High carbon steel

Maintains a sharp edge for a longer period

Handmade craftsmanship

Each cleaver is unique and built to last

Ergonomic handle

Reduces fatigue and increases comfort

Full-tang construction

Provides strength and balance for easier use

Care and maintenance of your Damascus steel cleaver

Special care and maintenance are paramount to ensure your Damascus steel cleaver remains the crown jewel of your kitchen gear.

Proper care and cleaning

Proper care is essential to maintain the sharp edge and pristine condition of your Damascus steel blade:

  • Cleaning: Always hand wash your cleaver with warm soapy water after use to maintain its integrity.
  • Drying: Immediately dry with a soft-textured material to prevent water spots or rusting.

Here are some tips to keep your blade in top condition:

  • Do not put it in the dishwasher: Damascus steel should never be cleaned in the dishwasher. The harsh environment can damage the steel and handle.
  • Oil the blade: Occasionally, coat the blade with a light layer of food-safe mineral oil to preserve the steel.
  • Leather sheath: Store in a leather sheath or knife block to protect the edge from nicks.

Sharpening your Damascus steel blade

Sharpening Damascus steel blades requires patience and the right tools. Due to its high carbon content, the blade can be difficult to sharpen but retains its edge for a long time once honed.

Recommended tools

A fine-grained water stone is the best method for sharpening Damascus steel, providing a precise edge.

Sharpening technique

Use gentle, consistent strokes at the correct angle to maintain the blade's integrity.

With this knowledge, selecting and caring for a Damascus steel cleaver becomes a clearer journey, one that leads to a lifetime of culinary exploration and satisfaction. Remember, a well-maintained Damascus steel cleaver is a chef's best friend.

Reimagining the kitchen and beyond

The Damascus steel cleaver is a kitchen must-have and a conversation piece of the historical reputation of premium quality metal. Whether you're dicing delicate herbs or facing the toughest cuts of meat, the Damascus cleaver makes quick work of tasks, saving you time and enhancing your culinary experience.

Damascus knives are distinguished pieces—the perfect blend of beauty and functionality, ready to make memories with every meal created. With the proper care and respect, this knife will be a tool in your culinary arsenal and a treasured piece that could last a lifetime.

The exceptional part of your home cooking experience

Visit BigHorn Steel’s online store to view our collection of Damascus steel cleavers. With a range of sizes and styles, find the perfect fit for your kitchen. Our knowledgeable staff is ready to help you with any questions about international orders and shipping times and charges to ensure your Damascus blades arrive to you wherever you may be.

For those who prefer a hands-on shopping experience for that perfect gift, come to our store in Jasper, Alberta. Feel the comfortable grip of our ergonomic handles and see the unique water-streaked designs up close. Invest in a good quality piece of artistry that sharpens your chef skills. With BigHorn Steel, find the perfect balance in a cleaver that offers a lifetime of cutting excellence.

Frequently asked questions

What is so special about Damascus steel?

Damascus steel is coveted for its unparalleled durability and unique patterned design. Its high carbon content allows for a sharper edge, and its crafting process results in a blade that is as beautiful as it is functional.

What is the best material for cleaver knives?

High carbon steel, like that found in Damascus steel, is often considered the best for cleaver knives due to its ability to maintain a sharp edge over time and its overall strength.

Why is Damascus steel so hard to sharpen?

The high carbon content that makes Damascus steel maintain a sharp edge also makes it harder to sharpen. However, the correct sharpening technique and tools can be honed to a fine edge.

Is Damascus steel good for tools?

Damascus steel is excellent for tools, especially those requiring a sharp edge and durability. Its balance of hardness and flexibility make it an ideal material for various tools.