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Tool Shed: Opinel Knives for the Garden

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Tool Shed: Opinel Knives for the Garden

November 1, 2017

While Opinel is often equated with high-quality kitchen-prep knives, the origins of the company rest in wood-handled pocket knives: perfect for the gardener.

Don’t let its humble origins fool you: The Opinel knife has become a French icon, used by the likes of Pablo Picasso for carving his wooden sculptures, and is considered by some to be the best-value working knife available. Created by Joseph Opinel in the Savoie region of France as a simple working knife for farmers, winemakers, and even mushroom foragers, the numbered 1 to 12 series of knives dates to 1897. We can see how it would be handy for taking cuttings from the garden, light pruning, or splitting woody perennials.

N.B.: The traditional Opinel knife has a beechwood handle and a carbon or stainless steel blade; carbon is susceptible to corrosion from moisture, so consider the stainless blades for lower maintenance.

Opinel No. 12 Carbon Steel Knife

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Above: The Opinel No. 12 Carbon Steel Knife, an original Opinel design, is $24 at Need Supply Co.
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Above: The folding No. 12 knife has a safety ring to prevent it from opening when closed.

Opinel No. 8 Pruning Knife

An Opinel No. 8 Pruning Knife with a beechwood handle and Sandvik stainless steel blade, is designed for shrub pruning, grape picking or cutting ties. For readers in Australia, an Opinel Pruning Knife is $33.95 AU from Odgers & McClelland. A No. 8 Pruning Knife is also available for £ from Le Petit Jardin, and, for US readers, an Opinel Boxed Pruning Knife is $.95 on Amazon.
Above: An Opinel No. 8 Pruning Knife with a beechwood handle and Sandvik stainless steel blade, is designed for shrub pruning, grape picking or cutting ties. For readers in Australia, an Opinel Pruning Knife is $33.95 AU from Odgers & McClelland. A No. 8 Pruning Knife is also available for £20 from Le Petit Jardin, and, for US readers, an Opinel Boxed Pruning Knife is $23.95 on Amazon.

Opinel No. 8 Pocket Garden Knife

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Above: An “ideal tool for weeding or picking lettuce or dandelions,” a stainless steel Opinel No. 8 Pocket Garden Knife has a 3.35-inch blade and a beechwood handle; $16 from Opinel USA.
N.B.: More ways to cut through the underbrush:

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