I recently purchased an Opinel No6. It is the Stainless (Inox) version with Bubinga wood. It is a great little knife. However, when it arrived it was way too tight. I had a very difficult time opening the blade and had to force it the last few cm's to fully open it. Opinel's wood handles are known for swelling, but the recommendations for fixing the problem range from leave it in the sun for several days, to bake in the oven. And even then the results are mixed.
My solution was to take it apart, sand the inside a little bit and put it back together. Luckily, Opinel's are very simple knives and are easily modded and repaired.
Off to the garage, to loosen up my Opinel's handle.
You will be handling a SHARP KNIFE. Use caution while working with your SHARP KNIFE. Did I mention this is a SHARP KNIFE THAT CAN AND WILL CUT YOU?!? Please be careful.
Step 1: Tools
The tool set is pretty simple:
Flat head screwdriver - Large with a smooth head, used for spreading open the Collar
Flat head screwdriver - Small, used for prying off the Lock Ring
Punch - used to drive out the Pin and as a temporary pin during the tuning process
Spring Loaded Punch - my secret weapon to start removing the Pin
Sand Paper - I had a piece for ~300 grit from a previous project. I would suggest ~100-300 grit
Step 2: Dissassembly
- Remove the Lock Ring
- There are a few methods for this and it is well documented on Youtube and elsewhere on the interwebs.
- I pried the ring off with the small screwdriver
- This was the most difficult part. It is awkward to hold the knife and Punch in one hand and try to hammer out the pin with the other hand.
- Secret Weapon - I used a Spring Loaded Punch to start the removal. I had to "hit" it a couple of times with this punch to get the pin started. Then I followed it through with the regular punch and hammer.
- This will leave a small dimple in the pin, but it does not impact the function of the knife and is not seen when the knife is reassemble.
- Wiggle the blade out of the wood.
- This releases the pressure on the Collar for the next step
Pull the Collar off the end of the handle
Step 3: Tuning the Knife
- Sand the Handle
- Fold a piece of sand paper and sand the gap at the end.
- You want to sand it evenly and square
- TIP - I placed the knife blade inside the sand paper to ensure I was sanding the gap evenly.
- Sand a little bit at a time
- Reassemble the handle, blade and collar
- Use the punch as a temporary pin
- Test for the tightness of the blade.
- YES, you need to completely reassemble the knife each time. The Collar actually pinches the wood around the blade. So if you are just testing with the Blade and Handle, you may not sand enough
- I also erred on the side of a little tight, inside of too loose. I can always repeat the process in the future if needed
- This step is totally OPTIONAL
- You can wedge the flat blade screwdriver in the Collar to spread it open a bit.
- This part scared me, so I didn't spread it that much.
Step 4: Reassemble and Polish
Reverse the Disassembly Process
- Place the Blade in the Handle
- Add the Collar
- Align the holes with the Punch
- Hammer in the Pin
- I very slightly beveled the leading edge of the pin on my bench grinder. This helped guide the Pin through all the holes
- Push the Lock Ring onto the end. It will snap into place over the Pin
Optional - Polish the Metal Pieces
- I have a bench grinder with a big polishing wheel on it. While I had everything open I polished all the metal pieces.
- Before Reassembly, I polished the end of the Blade that rubs against the wood. I also polished the Pin
- Once assembled (before the Lock Ring was put on), I polished the Collar. This helped remove some of the scratches from the disassembly process and helped smooth out the action of the Lock Ring
- Polish the Lock Ring once it is back in place. This just adds to the luster of the knife.
Step 5: Admire Your Work
My knife now works wonderfully. It opens and closes smoothly and is much safer to use.
Step 6: Sealing the Wood
In my research, it was recommended that you seal the exposed wood to prevent it from swelling. Many people recommend Mineral Oil or Boiled Linseed Oil. I haven't done this step yet, but will be purchasing some oil in the near future.