Monday, March 14, 2016

Return of the Opinel

A little over three and a half years ago, I first reviewed the Opinel #7.  Recently, I bought a slightly smaller Opinel #6.  I thought this might be a good time to review how well the old #7 has done over a couple of seasons of relatively hard use.

The angle of the top picture exaggerates the difference in size.  The blade on the #6 is only about an eighth of an inch shorter (72mm vs. 76mm).  Like a lot of us as we age, the #7 has lost a bit of length due to extensive use and resharpening. 

Most of the size difference between the #6 and the #7 is due to the grip length and diameter and blade depth.  It's a slimmer knife.

The first thing I noticed is how much wear old #7 has in the pivot.  It's a lot looser than the new one -- not in a sloppy way, just worn. It's a wooden handle.  It's going to wear.  I have used it a lot, in the garden, in the field, doing repairs around the house, and odd jobs from cutting Christmas paper to scraping bad sealer off a tile floor.  Scraping the tile was really hard on the knife, but it held up, did the job and honed right back to a shaving-sharp cutting tool.

I don't mean to brag, but I am kind of proud of the way I've managed to maintain the blade.  I tested it against the untouched #6 and the older blade actually cuts smoother and easier than the new one.

Sometime last year we were talking about grab-and-go bags.  I wound up buying a tactical backpack similar to the one Allena-C recommended at the time.  Then I also have tool bags on each of my bikes that I carry a few things in -- Altoids and earplugs to superglue and puncture kits.  One of the things I tend to keep in the bike bag is a spare folding, lockback box cutter, such as this fairly inexpensive Husky with handy extra blade holder that I probably picked up at Lowe's. 

An alternative to the boxcutter would be an Opinel, and there is a good chance the #6 or old #7 or some other Opinel will find a permanent place in my backpack. They are light, inexpensive, easy to sharpen (especially the high-carbon, non-stainless versions), and made to be used and abused.  Opinel folders make excellent utility knives for common, everyday tasks.  Throw one in the glove box, the tool box, or the tackle box. Have one when you need it. 


  1. Word has it that the Opinel design is optimized for slicing baguettes and spreading brie, then maybe quartering a pear as you share it with your mademoiselle as you sit in the shade with your bicycles leaning against a stone wall next to the country road overlooking the vineyards with Chateau in the distance. But it also works well for other jobs, as you have mentioned.

  2. In other words, it was designed by the French Army.

  3. That is a good one. The French Army Knife versus the Swiss Army Knife would be a good post.

  4. It's spring, time for a change. I think I'll start carrying one of my Opinel's and put away this stainless folder that I can't seem to keep sharp.