A cleaver is a large knife that varies in its shape but usually resembles a rectangular-bladed hatchet. It is largely used as a kitchen or butcher knife is mostly intended for splitting up large pieces of soft bones and through thick pieces of meat. The knife's broad side can also be used for crushing in food preparation (such as garlic) and can also be used to scoop up chopped items.
Cleavers are primarily used for cutting through thin or soft bones and sinew. With a chicken, for example, it can be used to chop through the bird's thin bones or to separate ribs. Cleavers can also be used in preparation of hard vegetables and other foods, such as squash, where a thin slicing blade runs the risk of shattering.
Cleavers are not used for cutting through solid, thick and hard bones – instead a bone saw, either manual or powered, is used.