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The handle

The handle

The shape of the traditional Opinel knife has remained unchanged since its design by Joseph OPINEL in 1890.
The knife’s wooden handle has a deep groove. Only highly resistant wood is suitable for shaping and producing hard-wearing handles. For this reason, beech wood, locally called “fayard”, is mostly used. Its grain is fine and homogeneous, providing excellent mechanical strength.
Noble woods are used for certain ranges: olive, oak, walnut or boxwood... Birch and hornbeam are light woods with fewer veins which are used for coloured handles.
Wood is a living material which will adapt and react to its environment. It expands and shrinks depending on moisture levels in air. When exposed to direct sunlight, its colour will become lighter or darker.
Furthermore, the appearance of wood may change drastically from one tree to another within a same variety. Therefore, thanks to its tone, veining and knots, each handle is unique.
Because OPINEL wants to avoid negative environmental effects, we use wood from local sustainably managed forests. Our main supplier is based in the Jura region.
To protect our handles from external aggressions, there are two available finishes: buffing and varnishing.
Handles shaped from rare and precious tree species are buffed with wax applied with a cotton disk. For every other wood, we apply a varnish which has been selected for its highly protective properties against moisture and staining.
The varnish is tinted for the carbon range and clear for all the other ranges. To create coloured handles, we first apply a water-based wood stain before the varnish.
 
To clean horn handles, we advise you to use a sponge or a clean rag moistened with some warm water (20°C), then to wipe suffer it immediately with a dry rag.
Avoid absolutely to let the knifefente under the water and letting some water penetrate into the blade slot, it will distort the handle.
For the maintenance of your handle in horn, we disadvise you to put products above, a simple soft and clean rag is enough to polish the handle.
In case of light crack, you can wipe the handle with a soft and clean rag with some drops of oil of petroleum jelly, but it has to remain an exceptional treatment.
We advise you any contact with some hot or cold water, any temperature and moisture differences.
 
 

The shell ring

At first, the Opinel knife had four components: the blade, the handle, the shell ring and the rivet. The shell ring was needed to firmly rivet the blade to the handle.
In 1955, Marcel Opinel, wanting to improve the safety of the knife, invented the Virobloc® system. He added a rotating lock which slides on the shell ring, closes the groove and therefore locks the blade in its open position. This is a simple idea but with a complex implementation. Conical shape, balance between steel strength and elasticity, changes in size due to the wooden handle and the rivet... A real challenge!
In the 90s, the Virobloc® system was modified to allow the blade to be locked in its closed position. At first, it was only used on a few references, but by the year 2000, it was added to every Opinel knife

 

The handle