You may have seen earlier this year the story of a couple who got stuck in some dense Rhododendron, and the subsequent nightmarish Mountain Rescue efforts to locate and guide them out. (Link)
I’ve been stuck in Rhododendron before, and I can vouch for how little fun it is, so it’s been in the back of my mind to add a little saw to my Lowland Rescue kit for some time. Recently I happened across Opinel’s N0.18 Saw, and it’s just so pretty that it’s my new favourite thing.
I mean, just look at that beautiful curvy wooden handle and the finish on the stainless steel locking mechanism. It’s a thing of craft, and you get the feeling that an old man, smoking Gitanes and drinking a small table glass of red wine, spent an hour hand-sanding the handle to make it just-so.
I’ll bet he didn’t, but that’s the feeling you get when you get a hold of the Opinel Saw. It’s a million miles from a plastic-handled B&Q jobbie. The handle is smooth, and widens towards the end, which is useful because this saw cuts on the pull, not the push. Being smooth though, it could be a little slippery if you were very sweaty.
And OK, so it’s pretty. But does it cut?
Well, that’s a ‘Hell Yeah’ too. It has a Japanese style pull-blade as used on Silky saws, which cuts as you pull the saw back towards you. It’s incredibly sharp and makes chopping through damp soft-wood as easy as you like. The teeth do get a little bit clogged up by damp sawdust, but they’re easily brushed off (carefully) with a rag.
The finished cut is very fine and smooth, as you can see from the below.
The blade swings back in to the handle easily, as long as you’re careful to align those teeth so they don’t bite in to it. And there it stays using friction from the central hinge bolt. It doesn’t want to fall open, but if you’re particularly paranoid about that you might want to invest in some kind of extra sheath or even a rubber band to hold it closed.
And like all Opinel knives, the NO.18 Saw has a simple stainless steel mechanism to lock the blade open. This one is particularly pretty.
One thing of note is that the law classes this as a locking knife, so you can’t carry it around in public unless you have a good reason to do so. It would make an excellent gardening tool, and I keep mine in my SAR kit.
The blade is replacable, should you ever blunt it, and the central pivot screw is adjustable if it starts to loosen.