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Today, Opinel’s capital is still held entirely by the descendents of Joseph Opinel, the brand’s founder. Located in Chambéry, in the Savoie region of France, Opinel employs around a hundred people, produces 4 million knives per year and makes 50% of its turnover from export sales. Since its inception in 1890, 260 million knives have been sold in more than 70 countries across the world.


Opinel headquarters at the Chambery la Révériaz


A firm respect for its mountain traditions has led Opinel to perpetuate its policy of protecting the environment, in terms of the selection of raw materials, manufacture of the product and its packaging.


Opinel perpetuate its policy of protecting the enviroment


To avoid a negative impact on the environment of securing supplies from distant places (pollution due to transport, deforestation, etc.), 95% of the wooden handles produced by Opinel come from French forestry operation

Lugares de Obtención de madera:


In  1872 Birth of Joseph Opinel in Gévoudaz in the Savoie region. Seen here as a young man, he was a keen photographer, this being his second love after knife-making.


Joseph Opinel Family, opinel founder.


1890 As an edge tool maker in the Albiez workshop, and against the advice of his father, Joseph produced the first Opinel knife models. "Good sense, the feeling of comfort when gripped, the convenience of being able to put it in your pocket gradually determined the overall shape of the Opinel knife".In 1897 The series of twelve sizes, numbered 1 to 12, was developed.

1901-1903. Joseph Opinel built his first factory in Pont de Gévoudaz and produced a machine for making the handles. In 1909 Joseph Opinel registered his first knife-making trademark and chose the "Crowned Hand" as an emblem.


Opinel first trademark, Crow Hand as an emblem.


In 1914 start of mass production. 1915 Joseph Opinel took over an abandoned tannery (with its waterfall, the Hyères canal) in Cognin, a suburb of Chambéry, to set up a new factory closer to major communication routes.
From 1920 onwards, installed in the new factory, Joseph successfully led Opinel’s industrial and commercial development, supported by his two sons Marcel and Léon.

1926 A fire completely destroyed the factory, but a modern new factory was rebuilt and opened at the end of 1927.


Opinel new factory later than 1926 disaster, completely destroy the factory.


From 1930, Marcel Opinel built special production machines from scratch. In 1950 Maurice Opinel (the son of Marcel) joined the business, which now had 50 workers and on 1955 The safety ring was invented. This simple and effective device was a significant improvement on the original knife.

In 1960, Death of Joseph Opinel at the age of 88.

In 1973, creation of the Chambéry La Révériaz factory. Automated production (wood).

1981. At the Chambéry La Révériaz site, construction of a knife assembly workshop and a logistics platform. The headquarters and blade and safety catch production workshop were kept at Cognin.

Opinel was recognised in 1985 as one of the hundred best designed objects in the world at the “Victoria and Albert Museum”, alongside the Porsche 911 and the Rolex watch.

The Virobloc safety catch system was modified  in 2000 to ensure safety during carrying (the blade can be locked in the closed position).


New security lock Virobloc.


In 2006 the “Phaidon Design Classics” the Opinel was designated as one of the 999 most successful designs of all time by a jury of international designers.

Places of wood obtaining:

MADERA SUPPLY ORIGIN WOOD USE Bubinga Central Africa Cameroon and Gabon With attractive purplish veining, relatively hard and heavy Brush-making, tabletterie (ornamental woodenware), cabinet work for decorative panels Boxwood France Southern Europe It is the hardest of our woods, pinkish yellow, with an even grain. In addition to marquetry and fine sculpture, it is very sought-after for making musical Yoke-elm France Far East , China Very hard and very resistant, pale greyish wood.  Tools, snooker cues, and, in the past, butcher’s blocks and yokes. Oak France Europe Pale yellow to pale brown wood. Annual hollow vein of varying tightness, depending on the plantation density.
  External woodwork, parquets, doors, panelling, frame structures.
Also used for boat-making, furniture, decorative panels, etc.  Ash France Europe Resistant, pearly white with brownish veins. Tool handles, snooker cues, skis, sledges, cart making or joinery.  Beech France Central and Western Europe but present on all three continents of the Northern hemisphere. White or very pale brown, fine, even grain, with straight lines. Widely used in furniture, brush-making, toys, parquet, etc. Yellow birch France  Europe and Asia Hard and resistant, with a brownish pink to yellowish pink colour, with a fine grain. Ornamental in parks and gardens. Cabinet work, solid furniture or veneering. Engraving, toys, rifle butts.  Walnut France China Stable, very fine, reddish brown with greyish veins, fine, even grain. Cabinet work, sculpture, rifle butts. It also gives green walnut shell used to dye fabrics and stain light woods.  Olive France Asia, then spread from Greece to Provence .  Hard, light beige with dark brown veining, even grain. Excellent for cabinet work and tabletterie (ornamental woodenware), it is traditionally used to make the pestles, bowls and spoons that are found in Provence .  Elm France Europe Medium-hard brown wood, with a rough grain. Staircases and solid furniture or veneering.  Rosewood Honduras Different origins, depending on the varieties: Central America , India . The rarest is Brazilian Rosewood, the trade of which is regulated by the Washington convention. Reddish-brown wood with black or purple veins, with a very fine grain. Used solid or as a veneer for luxury furniture and pianos.


Carbon steel
Opinel knife blades are made using steels with a high carbon content, which is what makes it possible to achieve the excellent hardness after heat treatment, guaranteeing the good strength of the cutting edge, resistance to wear and easy sharpening.

Carbon has a low resistance to corrosion caused by moisture, which means that certain precautionary measures are necessary when using and storing the knives: we recommend that you avoid damp environments and that you dry and grease the blade after use.

The hardnesses obtained after heat treatment are theoretically slightly greater in steels that do not contain chrome. The cutting strength is therefore better with a “carbon” steel and sharpening of carbon steel blades is much easier than sharpening of stainless steel blades.

Stainless steel
The addition of chrome very markedly increases resistance to corrosion caused by moisture. Steels are then called “stainless” and they can be used with fewer restrictions. The stainless steel capable of undergoing the heat treatment that gives it its good hardness is called martensitic. It has a carbon content of at least 0.40%, giving it a good cutting edge but which explains why knife blades are not totally corrosion-proof. Only a carbon-free steel would be, but it would not have the hardness guaranteeing a good cutting quality and the excellent strength of the cutting edge.


Opinel Stainless steel blade.



Although knives are everyday objects, making them involves multiple techniques, which are actually very complex to apply on an industrial scale; the process involves making the handles, working and treating the steel, sharpening the blades.

1 - Blade - cutting out

In a single operation in a 120 T press: the steel strap is cut out, punched with a groove and the “crowned hand” mark.

2 - Blade – quenching

This operation is conducted in special controlled-atmosphere furnaces, with the temperature, which is maintained with a precision of 1°C, constantly indicated on recording tapes.
The carbon steel is heated to a temperature of 900°C and quickly cooled by “quenching” in a bath of specially refrigerated oil.
This transforms the internal structure of the steel.
The effect of quenching is to make the steel very hard and very brittle. Quenching is "softened" by a ”tempering” operation, consisting of heating the blades up again to a temperature of around 300°C and then leaving them to cool slowly in air.
The blade then takes on a lovely blue colour. The steel has become very hard and can now only be worked using an abrasive grinder, with liquid spraying.

Stainless steels with a high chrome content undergo a different type of heat treatment. Among other operations, they must be heated to at least 1050°C to transform their internal structure.
Obviously, the hardness of treated components is also constantly checked on-site, using devices to measure the Rockwell hardness.

3 - Blade - grinding

At present, sharpening of each side of the knife is performed continuously, with each blade put in position, then pressed onto the grinder by a handling robot.

4 - Blade - polishing

On machines fitted with fine-grained grinders
High precision
Removal of grease by ultrasound.

5 - Handle

Made from wood squares by 9 moulding machines:
cutting to length , safety catch fitting, moulding, bevelling of ends, sawing of slit, sanding, varnishing, marking.


Opinel penknives handles ready to Assembly.


6 – Assembly

The knife is finally ready to be assembled, with the blade and the safety catch.


Assembly of Opinel penknives.


7 -Inspection.

A series of checks is performed at each of the major stages in production, generally by sampling, and each product is individually checked at the end of assembly. Some products randomly sampled after production undergo fatigue tests to measure the cutting quality, its durability and its resistance.


Opinel Pocket Knives

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