Archival Pocket Knives

A.C. endorsed Opinel (Tom’s model)

Discontinued Victorinox (L.L.’s current pocket folder)

I’ve been shopping for another knife ever since I saw a gent in Seattle cutting leather straps with a self sharpened Randall’s Adventure knife.

Unauthorized obsession

Tom and Sara both say NO to a jungle survival knife. Admittedly, I’m not sure what I would use it for save for opening boxes or cutting up cured salamis. A Randall would be overkill for my needs since it would spend most of its life in a kitchen drawer (too large for daily carry).

My second choice would be an Oregon made knife by the William Henry studio. Back in the day, I used to catch and release these from the display case of our favorite, now closed cutlery shop in Portland: George & Son Cutlery. A staff member once described William Henry as the CC Filson of pocket knives: high level of workmanship, local production, best quality materials. At the time, William Henry issued fewer, special edition knives and the lower end of their price point was still semi affordable (though painful enough that I never made a purchase).

William Henry pocket folder

Another pocket folder from Oregon’s Lone Wolf Knives

I’ve asked Tom to suggest some alternative folding knives to William Henry or Randall for daily use. Although he’s steadfast in his support of the Opinel as the best bang-for-buck user knife, here’s what he selected from Garret Wade‘s knife counter:

Tom is very fond of this brass Japanese folder, since it reminds him of his beloved scribing knife.

Sheepsfoot blade German-made Sailor’s knife.

The famous French Douk-Douk. Featuring a Duk-Duk spirit from Papua New Guinea on the handle. The other Opinel, in a sense: very popular with the FFL and throughout the French Colonies (although I didn’t find one in Morocco).

The safest option that Tom approves for Lesli’s use.

For fixed blade knife users, try making your own. It’s a basic process of finding a blade and mounting a handle. Here’s one that Tom made for his timber framing teacher.

Tom’s own custom creation

19 thoughts on “Archival Pocket Knives”

  1. Stopped by the Opinel museum a couple weeks ago. Maybe not worth a pilgrimage, but it was On The Way:

    I have to agree, bang for the buck, it’s hard to beat a classic high-carbon Opinel. I picked up a big No 12 to add to my collection.

    In Sweden, you’ve got the classic high-carbon Mora belt knife, which makes up for in utility what it lacks in aesthetics. Or the Fallkniven F1.

    My daily folder is another French model, from La Thiers. These are a bit sleeker than the classic Laguiole, but have nice detailing:


  2. Don’t forget about Case Knives. Still made in Bradford, PA (same place that Zippo lighters are still made).

  3. Can I suggest Saladini? They are handmade in Florence. They used to offer a miniature which ran about $30 with an olivewood handle. I was lucky enough to find one. It is as slim as a chunky pen and opens to seven inches. Lightweight, graceful style and very easy to carry.

  4. Gotta love the Opinel; such a classic. And that old-school Victorinox is looking good too. Great to see you guys covering pocket knives, there are only so many Tote bags i can get excited about! 🙂

    For your inner Inuit, can i recommend a Heimo Roselli Leuku? Sure, it’s made for gutting Caribou and carving ice sculptures, but it’ll also chop vegetables or replace the small axe in your yard.

    No folders, but his work is A1 and frankly i would usually be willing to pay the cost of his knives for one of the sheaths he includes in the price.


  5. Thanks for all the additional suggestions. Opinel wins out for daily use but I’m intrigued by all the small craft makers out there like Chris Reeves, etc. I should add that my budget for this purchase needs to be under $250 which pretty much cancel out custom knives and exotic wood handles.

    I’ll be posting an updated report in September with more formal references to the knives mentioned in the comments section (and via email).

    Vaughn W. also recommended
    Tim Wright knives.

  6. Leslie, I have a Knife Just finished Its has a 3″ Puukko blade, a spalted birch/birds eye maple/ebony/stacked leather knife, tung oil finish, hand polished, Hand rasped and peened, no power tools used, and you can shave hair with it. Handmade waxed sheath. I would be more than happy to sell it to you $ or we can trade? If you are intrested email me at junglest (at) hotmail(dot)com and I can send a picture. They are great all around knifes, they use then as pocket knives in Finland.

    Take care


  7. I just purchased a Case Hobo, the older style with blade, fork and can opener only. I do love my Opinel, but the Hobo will be my daily carry forever, I hope. I’ll also add a vote for the Case Scout. Simple, classic, affordable and made in USA.

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