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Thread: So how exactly are the Coticule stones which we all love so much produced?

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    # Coticule miner # ArdennesCoticule's Avatar
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    Exclamation So how exactly are the Coticule stones which we all love so much produced?

    The atelier:



    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.


    The quarry:

    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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    # Coticule miner # ArdennesCoticule's Avatar
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    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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    # Coticule miner # ArdennesCoticule's Avatar
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    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!

    -Rob
    Ardennes Coticule
    Last edited by ArdennesCoticule; 11-08-2008 at 01:20 PM.
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    It's Nice To Be Nice JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    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 kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” attributed to Ian Maclaren, circa1897

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    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.

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    Senior Member AusTexShaver's Avatar
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    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.

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    what Dad calls me nun2sharp's Avatar
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    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

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    Just one more lap... FloorPizza's Avatar
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    Rob, thank you!! Very informative and interesting.

    *sigh*... now I want to buy a Coticule...

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    # Coticule miner # ArdennesCoticule's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AusTexShaver View Post
    If you need another topic I'm sure some of us would be interested in learning about the different quality grades.
    That's exactly what I'm planning to do, but give me some time to do so I'm very busy

    Quote Originally Posted by FloorPizza View Post
    Rob, thank you!! Very informative and interesting.

    *sigh*... now I want to buy a Coticule...
    Ask one for Christmas, it will be a very usable Christmas gift


    @ all the rest: thanks for the kind words, I really appreciate it!!

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    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

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