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Make Your Own Swiss Army Knife in Brunnen, Switzerland

Are you a fan of Swiss Army Knives? I am! We visited Brunnen, Switzerland where they are made. The town is so cute and well worth a trip. Find out why here.

Mountains, cows, cheese, chocolate. These are all things that I readily associate with Switzerland. That and one more thing, the Swiss Army Knife. And that is the reason Jim and I booked another weekend in Brunnen, Switzerland, to make our own pocket knives.

Switzerland is a great place for a winter trip, and we’ve enjoyed a number of places. We loved our Geneva winter trip, along with one of our favorites Titlis, and of course this one to Brunnen.

Even though we braved the roads and drove down there in the dead of wintery January, we found lots of fun things to keep us busy in this small town not too far from Zurich and bordering the gorgeous Lake Urner.

Antique pocket knife at the Swiss Army Knife Museum.
An antique pocket knife with many blades, displayed in the Victorinox Museum in Brunnen, Switzerland.

Brunnen, Switzerland – Home of the Victorinox Vistor’s Center

Sometimes in winter we look out at our gray German skies and wonder where we can go to cheer us up. Winter is the perfect time to find things to do inside, so since my dream of making my own Swiss Army Knife hadn’t yet materialized, we decided it was the perfect time for the trip.

Brunnen is only about an hour and a half from Zurich or two hours from Basel, so it’s easy to add to your Swiss itinerary. For us, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump over the German border so easily done in a couple of days. Even though our main purpose was set, we discovered a few other fantastic things to do, and it turned into quite the romantic weekend.

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Ready for a fantastic weekend in Brunnen, Switzerland?

Visiting Victorinox and Making Our Own Knife

Displays of Swiss Army Knives at the Victorinox Store.
Displays of Swiss Army Knives at the Victorinox Store

As soon as we checked into our fantastic hotel, located right across from the Victorinox Museum and Store, we headed straight over to check out the visitor center. We’d made an appointment to assemble our knives at 4:30 in the afternoon and we had time to wander around the small museum, read the history of Swiss army knives, and do a little shopping. Even though the company was founded in cutlery, it has branched out into some unexpected areas, like travel gear and fragrances, so it was very interesting. And even I, the non-shopper, found a couple of things to purchase.

Horse statue and buildings of Brunnen.
The view outside of our window overlooking the center of Brunnen.

The time was drawing near, and my excitement was mounting. You might think that Jim would have been the one to come up with this excursion, but it was all me. You see growing up, I was always a Girl Scout, and I can remember learning how to use a pocket knife at about age ten. In fact, my Mom and Dad were on vacation in Switzerland one year, and what did they bring me back, my very own Swiss Army Knife. I think I was about 12 years old. I treasured that knife. I whittled my own spoon with that knife. I couldn’t wait to make one!

Two men building a Swiss Army knife.
Jim carefully following the instructions for layering the parts of the Spartan model of Swiss Army Knife.

Our instructor was Phillip, who spoke fantastic English. Turns out he was a Canadian…well, no wonder. Each person who books the knife assembly only has 15 minutes, so we set straight to work. It was fantastic that both Jim and I had signed up, because some people only have one person in the party make a knife, and Phillip said he had to speak fast and keep repeating himself. But with two people, he was able to interweave some fantastic facts, some history, and of course lots of instructions into his spiel. We were spellbound.

Note: Unfortunately you can no longer assemble your own Swiss Army Knife. Victorinox has indicated this may be available in the future, so we’ll update this page with the new info when we have it.

Additional Reading about Switzerland:
Visiting a Gruyère Cheese Factory
Winter in Titlis 
One Day in Lucerne
Things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland
The Girlfriend’s Guide to Basel, Switzerland

Hammering a brass pin on the pocket knife.
One of the last steps is flattening the pins on the Swiss army knife.

I can’t remember everything, but here are a few facts about Victorinox and the production of Swiss Army Knives that we learned:

  • Victorinox was founded by Karl Elsener in 1884 and he patented his first Swiss Army Knife (the Swiss Officer’s) in 1897.
  • The brand name is a combination of Karl’s mother’s name – Victoria – and the word for stainless steel – “Inox”.
  • There are 60,000 Swiss army knives made every day in Switzerland, and double that in the world.
  • One of my favorite facts was that the table we used to assemble our knives was 2 of 60. The others are sprinkled throughout the country where people boost their income by hand assembling knives in their homes.
Phillip and Corinne with the finished pocket knife.
Phillip, our guide and instructor, congratulating me on finishing my own knife.

The knife that you assemble is the Spartan, basically the same as the original Officer’s Knife and of course still very popular. It was a Spartan that my parents bought for me all those years ago. This model has 27 parts that we have to put together in layers and in the correct order.

There are 12 functions that are included: two blades, a can opener, two screwdrivers, a bottle opener, a wire stripper, an awl, tweezers, a key ring, a toothpick, and then there is a choice between a Phillip’s head screwdriver or a corkscrew. I, naturally, picked the corkscrew.  I remember as a kid that my favorite too, by far, was the toothpick. I loved that thing! 

How Do You Make Your Own Swiss Army Knife?

Unfortunately the store in Brunnen is no longer offering this amazing experience. However, Victorinox has indicated this may be available again the future at some other location. We’ll keep this post updated as the situation changes.

Plenty of Other Things To Do in Brunnen, Switzerland

During the month of January, Brunnen is celebrating fasching. Fasching is the “5th season” and its pre-Lent carnival partying. While we were there we kept seeing and hearing fasching bands, locals dressed up in costumes, parading through the streets, playing instruments, and just having a great time.

A colorful, costumed band play in the village square.
One of the many fasching bands playing in the village square of Brunnen, Switzerland.

In one of the town squares there was a fasching market with plenty of booths selling costumes, lots of souvenirs from Switzerland, and warm alcoholic drinks. A beer tent was always full of the bands playing music and the locals living it up.

A boat cruises Urnersee, Switzerland at sunset.
A boat cruising on Urnersee, Switzerland at sunset. The cruises go all year long.

But even if you don’t go during fasching, the town is situated on the Urnersee (Lake Urner). There are Urnersee boat cruises that run all year long. What a romantic way to watch the sunset!

Brunnen Hotels and Restaurants

Brunnen has its share of fantastic restaurants and cozy hotels. We recommend the Hotel Weisses Rössli, which hosts the best restaurant in town as well as stylish, comfortable rooms and a great breakfast.

Hotel Restaurant Weisses Rossli in Brunnen.
We stayed here, at the Hotel Weisses Rössli in Brunnen, Switzerland.

What do you like to do when you go to Switzerland?

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

Ready to do something different? Make your own Swiss Army Knife in Brunnen, Switzerland!

Corinne Vail

Saturday 24th of February 2018

Marteen, It was the perfect winter weekend...and the knives were a blast!


Wednesday 21st of February 2018

I too have owned a swiss army knife since my boy scout days backin England many years ago. They are "must have" items in your backpack. They come in very useful at the right moments, when you need to open a can, or bottle. I definitely would not be without mine. Good to know that the factory is open to visitors and you are able to actually make your own.

Corinne Vail

Wednesday 21st of February 2018

Dave, If you were a scout then you would really enjoy this experience. I loved it.

Ghia Lorenzo

Wednesday 21st of February 2018

Great post! Thanks for sharing! It is really nice watching the video and personalizing your swiss knife is really a cool one! It will be very useful whenever you are in a camping or wherever you are since it is very handy.

Corinne Vail

Wednesday 21st of February 2018

Ghia, Making the knife was such a blast! I would do it again. Could I use two

Mei & Kerstin (@_travelwithmk)

Tuesday 20th of February 2018

It's always useful to have a good Swiss knife. Before 9/11 we always carried around a Swiss knife wherever we traveled to, but right after 9/11 airport securities got tougher and I got mine confiscated at the Frankfurt airport. I was so angry and have always said that I needed a new one but still haven't bought one since then! Guess it's time we make a little trip to Switzerland to make our own Swiss knife! so thank you for sharing this!

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 20th of February 2018

I agree. Swiss Army Knives certainly come in handy. I just came back from sledding in Austria and had to use the "pull" tool to zip up my ski boots. Yes, go to Switzerland and make one. You'll really enjoy it.


Tuesday 20th of February 2018

I loved watching your video! Now I want to visit Switzerland and make my own Swiss Army Knife :)

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 20th of February 2018

Candy, You should! It was fun, and to walk away with such a cool souvenir...there's no down side.