Three aspects on nanocantilevers are presented in this letter. First, we present the fabrication process of 2 mum long freestanding chromium cantilevers with width 150 nm, and thickness 50 nm. Second, a measurement scheme using an atomic force microscope operating in contact mode was employed to study the mechanical properties along the length of the cantilevers. Third, we have investigated extremely large deflections on these nanoscale cantilevers demonstrating their high ductility. The spring constants calculated from the experimental data are smaller than expected from classical mechanics calculations, but show good agreement with previously reported calculations for largely deflected beams. (C) 2003 American Institute of Physics.