Make Your Own Swiss Army Knife

Cheese and chocolate are great Swiss gifts, but a personalized self-assembled Swiss Army knife? That’s something special! At the Victorinox store in historical Brunnen, you can assemble your own Swiss Army knife and have it engraved. The helpful and friendly staff will walk you through the whole process, which is very hands-on. While you’re waiting, you can browse the small museum, learning the history of knife-making in Switzerland and see lots of interesting knives on display. It’s a fun activity and a wonderful memento of your time in Switzerland.

Location:   Central Switzerland
Address: Bahnhofstrasse 3 CH-6440 Brunnen
Car: ~25 mins from Zurich
Train: ~45 mins from Zurich
Open: year round, Nov to Apr closed on Sundays & public holidays
Mon-Fri 10:00 – 18:30, Sat, Sun 10:00 – 17:00
Price: CHF 30 per knife
Services: cafe, no strollers
More info: www.victorinox.com

Make Reservations

Each knife takes 15 minutes to assemble and there’s only one assembly station, so a reservation is required for each knife you plan to make. I recommend calling at least a couple weeks in advance, longer for Saturdays. It costs CHF 30 per knife, payable with card or cash at the Victorinox Brand Store. The expert can give the instructions in English, German or French.

Phone: +41 (0)41 825 60 20  Email: info.brunnen.ch@victorinox.com

Swiss Knife Valley website with more information about knife assembly.

Children and Knives

There are no official age restrictions, but they recommend this activity for children over 7 years old, who can pay attention, handle small fiddly parts, and understand knife safety. You should brief children about knife safety beforehand. The staff also warned that new knives are very tight and can take some time to loosen up enough for small hands to safely extract the tools.

Here are a couple resources for teaching kids about knife safety:

Schrade Quick Tips: 14 Knife Safety Tips for Kids, Scouts and the Rest of Us (Video)
The New Artemis: How to introduce your child to pocket knives

Getting There

The Victorinox Brand Store is located at Bahnhofstrasse 3 CH-6440 Brunnen, as shown in the map below. It is close to public transportation and there is plenty of nearby metered parking for those coming by car. Brunnen itself is charming lakefront town, worthy of a little stroll. You might consider combining this activity with a ferry ride on Lake Luzern or hike at nearby Stoos or Rigi.

What to Expect

The knife assembly is found in the Victorinox Brand Store, downstairs. Check in with a sales assistant upstairs to let them know you’ve shown up for your appointment. Next door is the Swiss Knife Valley visitor center, a little museum that you might want to visit afterwards.

Downstairs, you’ll find a small Swiss Army Knife museum. There are interactive displays with informational videos, some telling about the history of knives, some about the Victorinox company. I’d recommend coming 15-20 minutes before your appointment to allow time to browse before making your knife.

Here is the official first ever Swiss Army Knife from 1891 and the largest utility knife according to Guinness Book of World Records.

This curtained Story Corner tells dramatic stories about how Swiss Army knives have saved peoples lives. My boys giggled up a storm behind those curtains.

The knife assembly station is this little desk in the museum room. You can observe other people making knives before its your turn. The man helping us was very friendly and patient, but it was clear he had a schedule to keep and we moved efficiently through the process. You will be making the “Spartan” model, which comes with 11 tools as outlined on their website. We had the option of to include a corkscrew or phillips head screwdriver.

To make the knife, you follow the diagram shown above, selecting the appropriate parts from the bins on the desk and inserting them into the machine in the correct order. Occasionally, you use a foot pedal to tamp the pieces securely together. We were told that the machine used here can be used to assemble most of the official Victorinox knives made in the factory.

At only point, you use an old school hammer to help the knife stay together. Along the way, our helper pointed out all the important quality checks: a proper “spring” and “click” when the knife is opened, no side to side movement when the knife is open, the knife must properly snap back in place by itself after you disengage the blade, etc.

The vice below is used to securely affix the signature plastic red casing. Then it’s time for engraving. You can choose from the fonts shown below and type out your desired text on the computer, up to about 24 characters, depending on the font. We choose to engrave with our boys’ names and date they made the knife. The etching machine below automatically etches out the letters. Then the staff member applies a white grease paint, which only stays in the etched out sections, creating a beautiful effect against the red casing.

My boys are so proud of these knives and love to bring them on our hikes.

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