Opinel is in a healthy state! In the two factories, that of Cognin and the ultra-modern one in la Revériaz, in Chambéry, some one hundred people maintain the tradition of quality that was so cherished by the founder of the brand. Of course, tradition does not mean an attachment to the past! No longer are the handles hand-made. Indeed, all that could have been automated was. All the old equipment has been replaced by automated machines, designed in-house - in this respect tradition has been adhered to - in order to carry out the fifty or so operations necessary to make a knife.
With the assistance of a 120-ton press, the blade is cut into a steel strip. It is then heated to 800° before being immersed into a special oil bath : this is «dipping» which will give it its hardness. Then it is once again cleaned, heated and then cooled with air : this is called «tempering». Finally, the grinding and polishing operations finish off the process.
The collar is cut into soft steel strips : the little trapezoids are made into their conical shape by stamping, and a press gives them their definitive aspect.
The handles are made from beech or cherry wood from the region. Automatic machines shape the handles and a slit is made. The wood shavings are used to heat the factory as are the driers used for drying the handles. This technique, which has been employed since 1970, has become even more interesting since the rise in the price of oil, as 200.000 litres of fuel is saved each year as a result. The mounting of the blades and collars, which is carried out manually, follows the varnishing of the handles. The knives are thus ready to be sold throughout the world.
As with all successful quality objects, the Opinel knife has sometimes been copied, but without a great deal of success! Know-how cannot be improvised. The user cannot be hoodwinked for the Opinel is easily recognizable. The sizes from the last century have been preserved : N° 2, with a 35 mm blade for a handle of 45 mm, N° 12 and its blade of 120 mm, and even an exceptional N° 13 which, even with keeping to the regular classification of the series, should be classified as a N° 24. But do not forget the special models : knife with a pointed blade, a curved blade, stainless steel, a tapered blade; de luxe series with a handle made out of high quality wood, with a specially «polished-ice" blade; a closable saw ; a Bicentenary knife with a Phrygian cap handle; and finally one with jewels, where white and yellow golds are mixed with lapis lazuli; with onyx or with vermeil.
Who else could have produced the Olympic knife for the Winter Olympic games of 1992 apart from Opinel? The Savoyard knife for the Savoie games. In the white and red lacquered livery is depicted the Olympic flame and the inscription «Albertville 92», without any longer having to mention the name. On the blade was simply written «Savoie, France».
After being involved in the Olympic games, it then participated in the fiftieth anniversary of the Normandy landings in August 1944 with production series in both French and English. The invention of the cinema by the LUMIERE brothers in 1895 at Lyons was commemorated with a special «black and white» OPINEL knife and of course, the 1998 World Cup occasion was also marked with a special OPINEL knife.