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Love it or hate it, the Opinel knife is an iconic item that speaks of France, cheese slicing and the pleasures of the countryside. Alternatively, it speaks of a laborious and inefficient locking mechanism combined with a certain pretension among its users.

The #8 Opinel is, at least according to Wikipedia, the most popular size, with a blade about 3-1/4″ (8.5 cm) long, shown above. They are certainly available inexpensively, between about $10.98 for a rebranded camping style to $11.95 from Amazon [What’s This?]. The blade is carbon steel (although they do offer stainless blades) and has all the benefits and drawbacks that material brings to a knife. They have updated the locking mechanism so that the blade does weakly lock without the collar being rotated, but secure use dictates the turning of the collar. The “Yatagan” type of blade is slightly curved upwards at the tip.

So what do you think, Toolmongers, Hot or Not?

Opinel [Manufacturer Site]


25 Responses to Hot or Not? #8 Opinel Knife

  1. Adrian Rothery says:

    I regard the Opinel knives as hot, at least for most purposes. Having a slightly flexible blade it is more suited to certain tasks than a rigid blade would be.

    I find the locking mechanism faultless and locks the blade tightly ensuring there is no play in the hinge. It’s not difficult to set either. I’ve seen French farmers tap the knife on a table making the blade flick open and then with a twist of the fingers set the blade lock, all with one hand. Similar to the trick of opening a Zippo and lighting it by striking it against the leg of your jeans.

    The ‘recent’ modification to the lock ring was not to improve the blade lock but to enable the blade to also be locked in the closed position.

  2. Alex M. says:

    Considering they’re pretty cheap, they’re hard to beat for casual use. Beats the heck out of tactic-lol knives for pulling out at work to open something (no more terrified secretaries), and they’re also good for cutting up fruit or whatever you’ve got in your lunch. That being said if you have the classic carbon steel blade and it’s NOT razor sharp, you’re missing the point. The edge you can put on them is a big part of what makes them nice.

  3. VERY HOT.

    A high quality, easily sharpened steel blade for $11.

    The locking mechanism is archaic, but foolproof.

    I wish I’d bought 10 of them when I was in france (for around $5 US) years ago instead of just one.

    I’m not sure how one could be pretentious about an $11 knife though.

    Anyone buying a stainless steel one completely missed the point.

  4. george says:

    hot. i have one each in my vehicles. amazing how often you find that you need one. no problem using mine.

  5. MeasureOnceCutTwice says:

    Hot! Ditto all the above.

  6. Brice says:

    Very Hot. I’ve got a fair collection of them. The edge they take is just incredible.

  7. Jack says:

    Buy yourself an old style alox (aluminum) victorinox soldier. Best value in the knife world. I have owned many high end knives (over $100), but this is the only one I carry. It is built like a tank and has a a nice assortment of tools as well. You can find them new on ebay for around $20. I have owned the opinel. Garbage. Trust in Swiss quality. They are legit.

  8. -Olderthanyou says:

    I spent too much of the seventies working on French bicycles and cars to ever trust anything made in that benighted country.

  9. Jim K. says:

    Not my favorite knife but they do hold a special place in my heart as it was my Dad’s first “real” knife. I remember when he bought it when I was a kid and for years I coveted it. Unfortunately he lost it before I was able to inherit it but years later I happened upon it in a box of misc. that he’d moved into storage at my grandmother’s house. I refinished the handle, gave it a new edge and gave it back to him 25 years later. Still remember the smile on his face when he saw it again.

  10. >>I spent too much of the seventies working on French bicycles and cars to ever trust anything made in that benighted country.

    @Olderthanyou You must not be a fan of wine, pastries, cream sauces, tarts, or cheese then. 🙂

  11. Adam R says:

    forget the french cheese. More cheese is made in the US. Ohio, Wisconsin, and California produce more than the rifle droppers could ever hope to.

  12. Adam R says:

    I should add most of it tastes better too.

    • J-C says:

      The US may produce more cheese than France. You think it may ‘taste’ better. But you are so wrong it’s unbelievable. Try some green label Comte Fort St Antoine, Delice de Bourgogne, Reblochon or a little Banon wrapped in leaves and you taste a passion and history that American cheese can’t achieve. Why do you think most wine and cheese’s in the rest of the world are based on French recipes? Cheese Noob

  13. Hot,Hot,Hot!
    One of the first pocket knives I ever owned & still one of my favourites.Actually shaved with one a few years back just to prove that it could be done.Locking mechanism is excellent,solid & reliable if need be,I like the fact that you can choose to use it or not.Also makes a good half-spin throwing knife.Oh,& they float!

  14. Frank says:

    Being a tool fetishist, cheese “gourmand” & married to a French teacher, I feel I need to clear a few things up: The Opinel is a great knife that can easily be honed to razor sharpness – which clearly makes it the tool of choice for slicing fresh baguette or to separate a frog from his legs. It’s construction is surprisingly simple but also reliable. It’s a cheap knife designed with one purpose in mind: cutting stuff. Nothing more, nothing less.

    The French used to be excellent engineers (Eiffel Tower, Concorde, 2CV) – but those days are obviously over (collapse of the E2/Air France terminal in 2004).

    The US might have the world’s highest ouput of “cheese” but if you subtract all 3476 varieties of industrial cheddar, the 150 or so types of spackle (AKA cream cheese), those toast-sized, yellow band-aids (Velveta) and that stuff that comes in spray cans, you are left with only a handful of cheeses that actually have flavour. Sorry to say, but if it comes to cheese, the French are winning hands down… Ahhh, Tete de Moin, Roquefort, Reblochon…

  15. Tage says:

    Adam R, I have to agree with Frank on this one. American cheese is okay, but it can’t touch french cheese for artistry. Quality, not quantity.

    • Jonathan says:

      You’ve never had anything from the smaller cheesemakers, have you? Not everything is Tillamook or cracker barrel.

  16. OldSailorNM says:

    I like the Swiss knives, but only the most spartan of them; otherwise, I find the Opinel just the tool for cutting most items I usually need to cut, some vegetables from the garden, some string or tape on a postal item, and of course attacking the occasional cardboard box that won’t rip apart with just hand strength. It’s light weight and a simple design, over a hundred years and counting. As for the French Haters among you, lest we forget that if it weren’t for the French, their money, and ships during the American Revolution. We would just be another Commonwealth nation of England. Please read your history books. They were written for a reason.

  17. Opinel Lover says:

    I LOVE OPINEL KNIVES! They are some of the BEST knives and cutting tools EVER created by human beings. Opinel Knives are all-purpose cutting tools, pocket pen knives, and survival tools. I would suggest every human being who is responsible owning and carrying Opinel knives! Viva La France! And the poster is right about France helping America defeat the British. If it was not for the French and their aid to America, things would not have come out so well. Praised be the LORD JESUS CHRIST!

  18. whoever59 says:

    I bought one in France 35 years ago. The blade proved to be perfect for cutting pipe for sprinklers systems, the sharp and thin blade cut right through the black pipe, the rounded end effectively reamed out any burs on the white PVC ends.
    I never knew where the knife got to until about 15 years later when one of my sprinklers quit working. I dug it up to replace it and found my Opinel in the bottom of the hole. The blade was a bid pitted but still had a good edge, and the varnish was still mostly in tact on the handle. Just got back from France, and bought some back for my kids so they done fight over mine when I die.
    as good as French cheese is, even it would not be highly recommended after fifteen years. But the Opinel,,, is definitely hot.
    PS. I also love my swiss army knife of 20 years, but I really only take it camping, just not as handy.

  19. MarkinTex says:

    Hot. The carbon steel blade takes and holds an edge like nobody’s business, and its flexibility comes in handy for tasks that require precision. Another thing I like about the #8, though the blade and handle are each over an inch longer than my Buck Prince, the #8 is only about 2/3 the weight, and 1/5 the price. I also really like the feel of the rounded wooden handle with the flared end in my hand, a very comfortable and secure grip. I don’t find the locking collar to be “laborious” at all, and once you learn what the French call the “coup du savoyard”, one-handed opening is a breeze. I haven’t noticed any “pretension” among the few Opinel owners I have met and/or read about on the web. At such a cheap price point, it isn’t like this thing can be a status symbol. I think you are mistaking for pretentiousness Opinel owners’ genuine admiration for its simplicity of design and historical roots as a an inexpensive working knife of the peasants of the French countryside, as well as the knife Picasso and other artists used to sharpen their charcoals. Some others may be deciding it is pretentious because of their suspiciousness of anything not “Amurican” as being effete, and the aforementioned historical connections to artists set off their anti-intellectualism. Adam R’s “rifle droppers” comment epitomizes this. Really? He posted that 6 years after we all figured out that the war we were mad at the French for not joining us in was one we shouldn’t have gotten into either? I guess some people need to hang on to their prejudices no matter what the reality is. And Jonathan, you are missing the point with your comments about the smaller American cheesemakers, since Adam R was trying to win his argument on the quantity of cheese produced in America being greater than that of the French, and most of that quantity is made up of industrial cheddar, monterrey jack, and mozzerella.

    The Opinel knife is right up there with the Bialetti stovetop espresso maker as one of those classic European designs of the late 19th-early 20th Century that was made to be a simple, easy-to-use, durable, and economical everyday device for the common man, and has endured, unchanged, into the 21st Century because of the beauty and utility of its design.

  20. udi says:

    Leaving aside the quality cheese vs. quantity arguments, the knife is excellent for the price, and for certain uses, excellent at any price. light, comfortable to hold and sharp. It won’t win you any knife fights or help you pry open that 50 cal ammo box, but for most regular cutting tasks while out and about, this knife does a great job. I’m not sure if there is anybody who is pretentious about owning one of these, but if there is, I have managed to go through life without noticing.

  21. Fung Sheng Wu Chi says:

    Yeah, those that have actually TRIED an Opinel…tend to like like ’em. Those that have and don’t are few and far between, and I think mostly don’t get what an opi can (or should) do. They are excellent slicers and general work knives, and a superb value. And those that HAVEN’T tried one and don’t like them…I’d say to keep quiet, but those folks posts are easy to spot and their *ahem* value to the debate is obvious, so they’re harmless, methinks.

  22. The Verb says:

    Udi, I beg to differ in one small particular: Opinels can win- and have won- knife fights. But it was close…

  23. Luke says:

    Opinel are 100% best knife I own for one reason I like my knives sharp as can be. I own the carbon steel ones and the stainless steel and for the people who say the stainless army as good as the carbon I’m a little confused as I can litteraly use both stainless and carbon to shave with all it takes is around 1500 grit whet stone and a leather belt to strop the edge. I would recommend either to everyone who love knifes as a tool. I agree victorinox is a great knife but what’s better than that is to own an opinel too the opinel 5 or 6 could be added to a key chain and you would not even notice them in your pocket along side the victorinox 😉 (also I’m not great at sharpening knives and I can still get a shaving capable edge so god knows what someone who can really sharpen a blade could do)…

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