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Timeless Traditional Tool, The Opinel Knife

Updated on January 3, 2012
yours will look newer
yours will look newer | Source

High Value, Low Cost.

In our day of cheap consumer goods pouring in from certain far eastern countries, some mass produced goods can still offer extreme value for not a lot of pocket change.

The French made Opinel Knife is one such item. It's a traditional "peasants" knife invented by Joseph Opinel in 1897. He originally sold his knives to the local farmers and wine makers which quickly garnered a following with that group who found the price and versatility to be irresistible. In 1903 he build a factory in Pont de Gevoudaz and began selling them at the Chambery railway junction where they became an instant hit with the railroad workers who once they discovered just how sturdy and versatile the knives were, spread the word throughout the region.

The knife is distinguished by its traditional styling with the handle constructed primarily of beech wood however, later on, more exotic woods not native to the region were also incorporated. In fact, several design awards were presented to the company and has been displayed by New York's Museum of Modern Art as a design masterpiece.

Its construction is what sets this knife apart. The locking mechanism is bullet proof. Introduced in 1955, the Virobloc is a simple twist-ring that enables the blade to be locked in either the open or closed position and I can tell you from personal experience, the blade will not move when locked. A comfort to know when performing heavy duty chores with the knife.

The blade (inspired by a traditional Turkish design) is made out of either carbon or stainless steel and comes in 12 sizes with the number denoting the length of the blade in centimeters. I've found that the carbon steel tarnishes quite easily but gains and keeps a razor edge quickly and with minimal effort compared to its stainless counterpart. But if you like your blades to stay pretty, go stainless.

Oh, why this particular knife. One word: Price.

This knife will only cost you $12 to $15 for a number 7 and size 12 running you a whopping $16. At that size it feels more like a machete than a pocket knife.

Sadly, in my part of the world, they aren't readily available. The only reason I have one is because the good folks over at sell them. I ordered a number 7 and found it to be just about the perfect size for me. Anything bigger would tend to get uncomfortable in the pocket.

So if your in the market for a "beater" knife. One that you wouldn't miss if misplaced and one that won't scare the kiddies and grannies when you pull it out, pick one up. I carry mine all the time and will continue to do so for years to come.


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    • John J Gulley profile image

      John J Gulley 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Wow! Thanks a long time to keep a knife. I've had bad luck holding onto knives and this was the main reason I chose the Opinel.

    • David Legg 7 profile image

      David Legg 7 5 years ago from Trout Paradise, Colorado

      That is a nice review of the product. I have a friend who has one of these that he's used for about 40 years, and it's still going fine. Thank you for the great hub!