ISSUE 4  |  The Rustic Life

Opinel Tools for the Garden

January 26, 2012 10:30 PM

BY Janet Hall

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 back 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.

Above: The Opinel No. 12 Carbon Steel Knife, an original Opinel design, is $17 at Amazon.

Above: The Opinel Pruning Knive No. 8, with a beechwood handle and Sandvik stainless steel blade, is designed for shrub pruning, grape picking or cutting ties; $19.95 at Opinel USA.

Above: The Opinel Gardener's Tool Set includes a No. 8 Garden Knife, a No. 8 Pruning Knife, and a No. 12 Folding Saw in a storage sheath with a strap; $99.95 at Garrett Wade.

Above: The Opinel No. 8 Garden Knive has a spear-point blade and a tapered beechwood handle; $10.25 at Amazon.