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Anyone do any home butchering? What do you use?

Discussion in 'Kitchen Cutlery & Tools' started by FortyTwoBlades, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    We keep chickens on the homestead and we refresh the flock every other year to keep up on egg production, and we just got some Californian (the breed) meat rabbits to raise and breed. I've been getting by with an old cleaver (as my chicken chopper) and a Vic/Forschner paring knife, but plan on moving to a Svord Farmer's Knife, especially for dressing out rabbits. I'm getting set up with the (unfortunately named) F. Dick cutlery corp and plan on getting my hands on some of their pro butchers' models as well. They make some pretty slick boning knives, as well as some hard-to-find models.

    What do you folks use, and on what?
  2. Blunt Forged Edge

    Blunt Forged Edge

    May 15, 2012
    No butchering personally, but growing up in Hawaii my Father used Forschner knives, the ones with the white handles if I remember correctly. He was preparing chicken, ox, pork, even fish. Knives from Forschner were a Breaking Knife, Stiff Wide Boning, Scimitar, and a Chef's Knife. Also at the place he worked at, the next door business was a Butcher Market and they used Forschners through and through.

    When I was going to college in Monterey CA, I lived out in the "boonies" with friends and they had a small spread of 110 acres with a few cows, horses, chickens. One day they asked if I wanted chicken for dinner, I said why not? My friend asked me to go and shoot one of his chickens with my Colt Match HBAR. Seeing that I've never shot a chicken before I did, but for some reason or another the chicken he picked out "blew up" with only blood and feathers left! Sad to say, shooting was out of the picture for that day. After gathering some of the chickens he used Cutco Knives(?) for butchering. Up until that time, I've never heard of those knives. That's all.
  3. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    It seems as though the most commonly preferred combo with folks is a 6" boning knife, 10" butcher's knife, and, if dealing with goats/sheep or larger, a cleaver. A few folks also seem to like the large German-style butchers' knives (the huge ones that look like churrasco knives cross-bred with machetes) for chopping ribs and doing heavy "breaking" and quartering work.
  4. Peak_Oil


    Nov 6, 2005
    I use a smattering of this and that. I have a couple Oneida knives for boning out chickens. They have a number of thin, flexible blades that are great for sliding into tight spaces. One is their Precision Cutlery Boning Knife, another is their Precision Cutlery Vegetable Knife. Both do the job for me very nicely.

    I've found that manipulating the joints with my hands to expose aspects of the carcass is more useful than using a large, heavy knife to hack through. Turn the joint one way and slice through one tendon, then reverse my grip to get behind the inside for one slice through three others, and the distal part of the limb just falls right off. There's no chips of bone or cartilage in the meat that way.
  5. tomsch

    tomsch Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 31, 2004
    I don't cut up live game but do break down whole chickens and fresh caught fish. I have a Jeff White 1095 skinner that is thin and gets used for pretty much anything that requires a thin blade. 1095 based blades are simply amazing for this type of work. Crazy sharp and easy to touch up when needed.h
  6. Gaspumps


    May 14, 2012
    I like the F. Dick knives. They hold an edge pretty well.
  7. Sharpski

    Sharpski Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2012
    I have done some commercial butchering and always have used Forschner now victorinox knives. They are pretty cheap, good grip, best shape, and are very durable. I have shun chef knives but when I need to do any butchering I use my victorinox boning knives. Between the 10" cimeter and the 6" semi stiff curved boning knife you will be set! I like the professional series bc the handles will not absorb as much and wash better which decreases cross contamination which is very important. I could breakdown a chicken in less than 10 mins with both of these knives in hand and with the same knives breakdown a hind quarter.

    MOST IMPORTANTLY whatever you decided to go with remember this: the best butcher's knife is the sharpest butcher's knife.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2012
  8. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Yup! Definitely gotta' keep it screaming sharp. Dull by butcher's standards is still pretty dang sharp for a typical work knife. :D
  9. Bernoulli


    Jun 15, 2007
    For large cuts I use a Dexter Russell scimitar blade about 12" long. I estimate the knife is 75-100 years old. For boning beef, pork and lamb I use a 5" Kershaw fillet knife (no longer made) or a 6" angled Mora Frost boning knife. For boning chickens and small stuff I use a grind limit boning knife from the meat packers. I've cut the blade down to about 2.5" and reshaped it. I have a variety of meat cleavers. I'm currently trying out a Solingen Belgique Professional.
  10. TwinStick


    Jan 21, 2011
    I have used Old Hickory, Dexter-Russell, Ontario, Beckers, Mora, Buck & even my CS Recon 1 Tanto for butchering deer. I found the key is do NOT cut the hair with the same knife you cape or butcher with. Animal hair seems to dull a blade quicker than anything. I use a separate little knife for cutting through the hair on the legs & neck.
  11. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    5" Dexter-russell stiff boning knife , 10" butcher knife, 20" butcher's saw ,4" hunting knife will work well for deer.
    Always cut the hide from inside , cutting edge out.That means cutting fewer hairs. Take your time as hairs are attracted to sticky meat and make a mess !
  12. Chris Pierce

    Chris Pierce

    Nov 15, 2006
    I don't do any butchering myself, but I plan to in the future. I have helped with turkeys in the past. I used a Cold Steel Master Hunter to behead them, and grandma used a series of normal old kitchen knives to butcher them.
    I just picked up three of the white handled Dexter Russell knives. One is a still boning knife, one is a simitar shaped butcher knife and one is a more normal looking butcher knife. The grip is great but I have yet to see how the edges will hold up, they came pretty dull but they were used so who knows.
  13. troutfisher13111

    troutfisher13111 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 30, 2006
    When I do whitetail deer I like the forschner brand as well. I can get by with just a 6" boning model.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012
  14. troutfisher13111

    troutfisher13111 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 30, 2006
    Also, any hack saw will work. You don't need an expensive butchers model.
  15. Veil


    Aug 9, 2011
    I second what Sharpski said. The two choices he mentions are all you'll need. The semi flexible blade on the 6 incher is especially appreciated when splitting the ball joint from the hip socket of cattle. That little bit of flexibility allows you to flex the blade to get into a very tight spot and slice the ligament connecting the two bones.
    I had a 12" instead of the 10" Cimeter but that 2" won't make much difference.
    I'd say I used the 6" boning knife 95% of the time, and the 12" the other 5%. The 12" was my go-to knife for cutting the steaks and that was about it. I used any other knife at the shop so infrequently that all of their combined usage would still equal less than 1%.
    I also second his statement to keep them sharp, but I'm sure you already do.

    I was a butcher/meat cutter at a locally owned grocery shop/butchers shop in my hometown before being employed in a field associated more closely related to my formal education.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012
  16. Benuser


    Nov 19, 2010
    In butchering almost no board contact is involved. The blades are steeled before every task. A wire edge will be hardly seen as a problem, deburring will occur incompletely. In my country most butchers use Victorinox, but the older ones prefer even softer but coarser Diamant Sabatier Boucherie. Technically these edges look like terrible, but will perform greatly with meat. It wasn't that long ago those blades were sharpened with a lot of pressure on SiC (grit J80??) and deburred (?) with a coarsely grooved steel.
  17. Bernoulli


    Jun 15, 2007
    Good plan. I tried it on a live elk. My doctor says I'll get out of the hospital next month.
  18. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Bwaaaahaaahaaa!!! I was thinking the same thing. :D

    Good stuff guys. Keep it coming!

    If you don't mind my asking, what's the big advantage of the "cimeter" style of butcher's knife (or as the Germans seem to call it, an "American-pattern butcher's knife") They seem to be strongly favored by many over "regular" butcher's knives but I'm having a hard time understanding the specific reasoning why.
  19. Veil


    Aug 9, 2011
    ^ in response to the ablove question.

    I've got a standard 14" butchers knife (the victorinox wooden handled one) at home now but didn't have one while working professionally at the shop. So the reason I used the cimiter style knife was that it was the one I owned and maintained at the time. Now I only prefer it because of familiarity.

    If you look at the cutting edge profile, the butchers knife and cimeter have an almost identical blade edge profile. The butchers knife does have it's advantages though. The extra steel towards the tip provides more weight at the end for while slicing steaks off the loin. That extra weight can also give it a cleaver like capacity if needed. The flat back edge allows you to use you other hand to press down on the back of the blade if you need to force it through something (block of cheese). The tip can also function like a drop point does while skinning game in that if using it on a penetrating cut the back edge will ride along the cut of meat and the blade tip will not have a tendency to dig into whatever you are cutting

    The cimeter style has some advantages too. The pointy tip can be used for penetrating cuts and needle-like incisions. The thinner profile provides less drag when cutting trough a large slab of meat horizontally. The reduced weight at the end also keeps the knife more balanced instead of being so tip heavy.

    To summarize, if kept sharp the difference between the two is minimal as both the cimeter and butchers style knife will simply glide trough most raw meat. And even though the knives look quite different they perform almost equally. You could make do with either and not miss the other.

    Also, keep in mind that the 6" semi-flexible boning knife is the one you'll be using 95% of the time on beef and 99% of the time on chicken, pig, lamb and deer so the decision on whether to get the cimeter or butchers knife isn't a crucial one. Just get the one you like better and you'll make it work for you.

  20. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Any strong preferences towards curved vs. straight boning knives?

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