Opinel - French for Folding Knife

Posted by Whole Earth | 07.25.2020

Opinel knives



Opinel - French for Folding Knife


John Keats once said, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” And when the Victoria and Albert Museum in London selected the 100 most beautiful products in the world, the Opinel knife was on the list along with a Porsche 911 and a Rolex watch. Opinel may not be a household name here in the States, but it’s a beloved brand in Europe. They make wooden handle folding knives that come in a variety of sizes that fit well in a pocket, bag or backpack.


Opinel AdOpinel has been making knives in the French Alps for 130 years. Joseph Opinel, the company’s founder, was born into a blacksmithing family and had a passion for machines and innovative technologies. Despite his father’s disapproval, he spent his free time refining the shape and then manufacturing the pocket knife that we now know as the Opinel No. 8. Originally distributed as a knife for farmers and train conductors, Opinel became so popular that it is now a generic word for folding knife in French.


Joseph Opinel’s goal was to make a knife that was simple, comfortable in the hand, and could be carried easily in a pocket ready for use at any time. In 1955, an impressive improvement was added to Opinel knives – the Virobloc. Created as a safety feature, the Virobloc is a rotating locking collar that allows the blade to be locked into position when open or closed. At first it was a special feature, but by 2000 it was found on all but the smallest Opinel folding knives.


Most Opinel knives have beechwood or hornbeam handles that develop a rich patina with use. Some Opinel knives have dyed wooden handles in vibrant colors. The blades are made of stainless or carbon steel. Carbon steel blades are easier to sharpen but require more care as they have a tendency to rust. Stainless steel is more difficult to sharpen but can be easily cleaned with soap and water. When cleaning a blade keep the wooden handle out of water and then let the blade dry completely before closing the knife to prevent warping.


Opinel Knife cutting green onionThere are many ways to use an Opinel knife. We like it for camping and picnics. It can cut, trim and whittle as well as slice, dice and chop for meal prep and then be used as a dinner knife. At home it opens packages, harvests vegetables and right-sizes boxes. For the minimalist a folding knife can substitute for a handful of other tools. And if it’s in your pocket, it’s always at hand ready to be used.


If you’re unfamiliar with Opinel, we think you’ll like the beauty, simplicity and usefulness of this folding knife. Stop by one of our stores to check out our Opinel knives. Opinel is an affordable, award winning beauty that won’t break the bank like a Porsche or Rolex.




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