Opinel Knife Handles – Attached to the Best Blades in the World
Opinel manufactures the best knives for every purpose- kitchen, camping, hunting, survival and foraging. The handle is one of the two vital components of the knife. Opinel handles are traditionally made of beech wood however, Opinel have many other handles available, ranging from horn to exotic woods from around the world. The shape of the traditional Opinel pocket knife remains unchanged since its original design in 1890. The Opinel ‘Slimline or ‘Effile’ range, which was introduced in 1989 has a different handle and blade shape.
The appearance of wood can be dramatically different from one tree to another within the same species, due to veins, knots and the tone of the wood. It is this natural difference that makes each Opinel knife handle so beautiful and unique. Most handles are still made of beech wood with a deep groove carved into the handle. Beech is used because it has a fine grain and is very strong. It is also relatively inexpensive, being harvested from local sustainable tree plantations.
The colored-handled knives use the dense and hard hornbeam wood in the handles, which are then stained.
The Classic Wood range has handles made of woods from the noble species: oak, walnut, and olive. Oakwood is also used for the series of engraved knives - Animalia. Opinel makes the handle of Luxe and a slimline from Bubinga, (African acacia) because the wood is hard, has beautiful grain, deep colour and is also relatively inexpensive. Ebony wood from Africa, with intense dark puple vein in the black, makes a stunning handle in the traditional and slimline range. The handle of the Opinel Chaperon is made from four different timbers, twisted and laminated together. Each handle is different and varies with the timbers used.
There is a ‘Limited Edition’ pocket knife where the handle is made from three different woods from three different continents – boxwood from Europe, ebony from Africa and rosewood from America.
Another Opinel ‘Limited Edition’ is the ‘Brun et Noir’ – the Brown and Black where birch wood has been stained in the two colours for a very eye-appealing look.
See all the different handles discussed by Bill the Knife Man in this video -
Opinel uses the tip of the horn in its horn range, so each handle is solid horn, not laminated pieces. Being a natural product, they vary from very pale to very dark with various coloured veins running through the horn.
Every Opinel knife handle is either buffed or varnished before it leaves the factory. Both finishes bring out the natural beauty of the wood. The handles made of rare or precious woods are usually buffed with wax on a soft cotton disc. Other woods receive a protective varnish to protect the wood from stains and moisture. The varnish is tinted according to the carbon level of the blade range. For non-carbon blades, the varnish is clear. The colored-handled knives are stained with water-based wood stain before the varnish is applied to the handle.
The handle of an Opinel knife, being made from a natural product, may react to the moisture level of the surrounding air, regardless of the species of wood used to create it. Opinel recommends avoiding submersion of the knives underwater or allowing water or other liquids to stay in contact with the handle for extended periods. If the knife gets wet, dry as soon as possible.
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