L'Exception sets out to discover the know-how of its brands. To coincide with the arrival of the season's new products, we had the pleasure of visiting the Opinel manufacturing site in Chambery. Opinel is a family-run business that is over 130 years old, and has always been based in Savoie.

Jean Perroux the manufacturing manager gives us a tour.

The Chambery site is Opinel's historic home. It includes the offices, showroom and manufacturing workshop.

View of the Opinel workshopView of the Opinel building

The majority of Opinel products are made in France at the Chambery site, including most blades and the iconic cutters with the ferrule. Some specific products are made by partners in Portugal. The tour takes us through every stage in the manufacture of an Opinel knife.

Part 1: grinding
The blades arrive raw at Opinel. This stage involves grinding the back of the blade to create a straight, clean surface. This is followed by face grinding, which shapes the knife, but does not cut it. The blades are loaded by hand, and the machine then grinds and washes the blades.

Blades come mainly from French foundries, but also from Sweden for certain metal qualities.

Opinel workshop tourView of the grinding machine from the operator's station

Opinel workshop visitStorage of ground blades awaiting assembly

Part 2: shaping
Shaping involves creating a knife handle from rough blocks of wood. One machine will make flat handles, while others will create traditional knife handles. All machines have been developed specifically for Opinel's needs.
Wood species depend on requirements: beech, olive, walnut, oak and ebony etc..
The manufacturing process involves sanding the block of wood. An operator will then check the quality of the finished products.

Opinel shaping workshop
Shaping workshop view

Part 3: ferrule manufacture
Opinel is one of the few brands to manufacture its own ferrules. The fixed and rotating ferrules are made entirely in Chambery.

Part 4: laser engraving
Laser engraving is carried out on site, and we produce both catalog series and small series knives on request.

Part 5: assembly
These machines are used for assembly. The consumables are loaded into the machine. The machine will take care of mounting the blades on the handles, setting the rivet, punching the assembly, setting the fixed ferrule and pad printing on the handle. The knife falls onto a feeder, still lacking the rotating ferrule and blade sharpening.

An operator then finishes off the cutting edge. Sharpening is always done by hand. The working time can be longer or shorter, depending on the quality of the desired edge. We always aim for the best edge. Time may vary to achieve maximum sharpness.

Opinel knife assembly
View of knife assembly machine

Part 6: packaging
The knives are boxed by hand by our team to be prepared for shipment.

Opinel knife packagingThe finished product packaging area

Part 7: storage
All merchandise is stored on site so that it's ready to go to our retailers at any time.

Opinel knife storage areaThe finished goods storage area

Many thanks to Jean for this guided tour.

Find all Opinel knives on L'Exception.