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11-08-2008, 12:46 PM #1
So how exactly are the Coticule stones which we all love so much produced?
The place were the magic happens: our workhouse, store, storage room and bureau (located in the Belgian Ardennes).
Coticule whetstones have been produced in this building (built in approx. 1865) for over 140 years.
The left part of the building (2 windows, 1 door and another window) is the main workplace (atelier). This is the place were the raw Coticule rocks are cut up into pieces and the end products (Coticule and BBW whetstones in all sort of sizes) are made.
The right part of the building (large arc window with a door in the middle) is our store, storage room and bureau space.
This atelier is also used to produce natural construction stones (like the ones our building is made off). These stones are stored in pallets in front of the building.
Our quarry is located at "Thier del Preu" (which means "height of Preu", Preu is a place name). Our extraction site is approx. 300 meters by 100 meters and we are at a depth of +/- 50 - 60 meters. The quarry is at a 2 km distance from our Atelier.
We need to extract approx. 2 tons of rocks to have 1 kg usable Coticule.
Main view on our quarry right after the winter of 2007-2008 (before the pumping started). The water has a height of +/- 10 meters.
Second view on the quarry (you can see my father Maurice, with the green jacket, together with a visitor standing on a rock which tops just above the water).
Two photos of Coticule veins.
Last edited by ArdennesCoticule; 11-08-2008 at 01:16 PM.
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11-08-2008, 12:49 PM #2
The production of the Coticule whetstone:
Coticule rocks waiting to be cut into Coticule plates.
1. Sawing the Coticule rocks into Coticule plates
These Coticule plates have a thickness between 7 and 14 mm.
Sawing these plates is a very important job. It has to be done very careful to maximize the amount and size of Coticule plates. The raw Coticule rocks have cracks, black manganese spots, quartz blocks and other impurities in them so it requires a certain amount of experience and handiness to maximize the good Coticule!
Some freshly sawed Coticule plates:
2. Gluing the Coticule plates on a black schist
This is the second step in the production of the Coticule whetstone.
We often get the question why it's done. The reason is simple! Coticule plates are so brittle that if such a plate falls of a height of 1 meter it will break into several pieces.
So we use black Brazilian or Portuguese natural schist as a base to glue the Coticule plates on. This way we have a sturdy whetstone that can handle several shocks!
3. Sawing the Coticule - black schist plates
This also is a very important job! This step is determining the final size of a Coticule whetstone (both rectangular and odd shaped stones!). The man doing this job has to look very careful at the Coticule because he needs to cut right through black lines or other faults in the Coticule and so maximizing the surface of Coticule without minor or major faults.
Last edited by ArdennesCoticule; 11-08-2008 at 01:13 PM.
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11-08-2008, 12:51 PM #3
4. Polishing the Coticule whetstones
This is the last step of the production. Every Coticule stone is hand polished on a diamond polishing table.
Every side of the stone will be polished and the edges will be rounded.
The storage room:
Every day the production of the previous day will be sorted in to quality grades and sizes. This happens in our storage room.
The following two photos shows how the size of a Coticule bout is determined.
This is done by using a sizing chart.
The last photo shows you some of our stock.
And these are the steps every single Coticule stone in the world has to pass before you can use it to sharpen your beloved straight razor!
Every Coticule stone is completely hand made at our atelier so every Coticule stone is a one of a kind!
The production of the BBW (Belgian Blue Whetstone) is the same except the gluing part.
I hope you liked this little explanation and if someone has further question, shoot away!
Last edited by ArdennesCoticule; 11-08-2008 at 01:20 PM.
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11-08-2008, 12:58 PM #4
Many thanks Rob and welcome to SRP! I have one of your beautiful kosher coticules and it is a great finishing stone. I also have a large natural and a striped coticule that I got through Howard at the Perfect Edge. Those came from your quarry originally of course. Amazing photos that really give a sense of all of the hard work that goes into those lovely rocks.Be careful how you treat people on your way up, you may meet them again on your way back down.
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11-08-2008, 01:10 PM #5
- Join Date
- Oct 2007
- Bute, Scotland, UK
Rob that was absoluely fascinating! I thought from the title of your thread that you were asking. How pleasantly surprised I was to discover this gem of a thread with photos to boot of how it's all done! Hugely impressed am I. This is a great resource for those interested. Many thanks.
11-08-2008, 02:05 PM #6
Many thanks for the great post and pictures! If you need another topic I'm sure some of us would be interested in learning about the different quality grades.
11-08-2008, 02:36 PM #7
Two tons of rock to get 1 kg of usable material! Now I know why these little beauties cost so much! They are worth it !It is easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled. Twain
11-08-2008, 02:53 PM #8
Rob, thank you!! Very informative and interesting.
*sigh*... now I want to buy a Coticule...
11-08-2008, 03:35 PM #9
11-08-2008, 03:36 PM #10
- Join Date
- Apr 2008
- Wales UK
Cheers Rob, I told you everyone would be excited by your posts.
Is there any chance of a picture of you, your dad and staff so we can see who makes the rocks?
How about producing an Ardennes Atilier(?) T-shirt? Or maybe a tiny bout keyring?
Would be great for the Tourists
Talking of tourism, I get free train travel through the UK and Europe (I'm a Train Driver) how far away is the nearest railway station from the shop + mine?
Thanks again M