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Coticules 101

Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.
, 09-26-2012 at 01:21 AM (6817 Views)
Coticules, The legendary sharpening stone from Belgium. This is another topic we see frequently on the forum. Back when I joined SRP, they were all the rage. Having one was almost a requirement. Just joking...

Coticules come in all shapes and sizes, 8x3,(200x75) 6x2 (150x50) are probably the most popular. In addition to the array of rectangular stones, The quarry produces "Bouts" (pronounced "Boo's") or irregular shaped stones, like trapzoids and the like. If you can get a good size one, it can be used for honing razors. Slurry stones are normally No.1 bouts. Coticules contain "Garnets" which actually do the sharpening for you.

Coticules basically come in three flavors, Selected grade, which have a clean, inclusion free surface, no cracks, etc...very pretty. Then you have Standard grade, which does have visable inclusions, cracks, and inpurities. In most cases, they have no effect on honing.

And "Kosher" grade, given that name because of their use by Rabbi's. These stones must be pure inside and out. Kosher basically. They are pretty rare, and you would pay a premium for such a stone.

Most Coticules come backed with slate, or some are natural combo's, half Coticule and half BBW, and some have (BBW) Belgian blue whetstones glued to the back of them, depending on the age of the stone. The one's being mined today are either Natural combo's or slate backed.

Of coure there was the occasional Ebay vintage Coti, also very rare. Vein names were equally rare back then. That didn't come about until 2009/10 maybe. (Not 100% sure about that time frame) Now you have stones like "La petite blance" Dressante, La Nouvelle, La Grisse, and the hybrid Les Latneuse. Since some vein names became popular, the quarry, "Ardennes" charges a premium for those stones.

Coticules were always hyped as the, "one stone does it all" which is kind of stretch, especially for novice honers. When used with a slurry, they produce more garnet's, and are more aggesive, They will cut faster, but it doesn't change the grit of the stone, that's impossible. It is what it is.

Coticules are rated by Ardennes as 8k...Yup..8k, mabye 10k, but not much higher than that regardless of what you read. What you need to know about these stone is, they are naturals, so each is different.

Ardennes also produces BBW's, or Belgian Blue Whetstone. These are less popular, and rated by Ardennes as 4k. Again, When a slurry is created, they are more aggresive. I use a BBW attached to a paddle for my kitchen knives, works great...

Each stone will have it's own personality. You'd be very fortunate to get one you like right off the bat these days. Lot's of folks go through several before they find "The Stone". Finding one that can set a bevel, and finish a blade, would be even harder. A lot of people will use two Coticules in progression, or may just use their Coticule as a finisher. It leaves a very comfortable shaving edge. Not at all harsh.

We know now, that many other stones, like Thuringians are capable of more than just finishing. Gssixgun and Lynn both did video's on one stone honing. I myself routinely do this on my Escher, or this new South African hone I've been using.

For the new member thinking of purchasing a Coticule as "One hone fits all" you may wind up frustrated. I would start off using it as a finisher.
Maybe get an old blade to experiment with, and see what your Coticule is capable of with a slurry. Remember, each is different.

I find the softer stones to be better cutters, and the harder one's to be better finisher's. One test you can do yourself, is the scratch test. Take your fingernail and scrath the surface of the stone. If you see a very distinct mark, you have a soft stone, If you see nothing, it's hard. Many of the greenish colored Coti's are hard, like La Grise.

This test makes much more sense when you handle several coticules. Very faint scratches could be an indication of medium stone, etc...

If your new, and are interested in Coticules, Do your homework. Ask some of our mentors. I know Disburden wouldn't mind answering some questions about Coticules. He's very knowledgeable and helpful. I myself used to sell these stones.

If your planning on honing, and think you may have to set a bevel one day, trying it on a Coticule can be an exercise in futility. I would recommend buying a bevel setter as well.
Part of the alure of these stone is the magic or the "one stone fits all" And that's not entirely true. As I said, it depends on the ndividual stone.

As always, if your just starting out and want to learn how to hone, I, and most of the staff recommend that you learn on the Synthetics first, like the Norton 4/8k. Once you can get a comfortable shaving edge off the Norton, then move onto the Naturals.

I still use mine from time to time, but less and less these days. I prefer the edges off an Escher or Thuringian. If I use Coticules, I'll start with a Dressante and finish up with a La Nouvelle stone.

These are my opinions, and not necessarily SRP's or the staff.

Happy Honing.
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  1. DaveW's Avatar
    One stone honing of razors in need of restoration is for minimalists. Minimalists also do laundry in the bath tub, thresh wheat by hand, and forgo bathing and deodorant. "Normal people" will follow your advice and get a second stone that does bevel work (which will be cheaper and faster than a coticule) and find a suitably fine finishing coticule that leads toward fine finish more so than fast cutting.

    A nice coticule that will finish well is a nice stone to have for finishing. A coticule that doesn't make a nice finisher is a good thing to sell to someone who collects stones because they like the way they look.
    zib likes this.
  2. Pithor's Avatar
    If you ever plan on re-establishing a bevel on a razor that is free of nicks and pitting you can use a coticule. If you don't have a proper bevel after 10-15 minutes, use a coarser stone, because there's something more fundamentally wrong with your edge.

    Putting a grit on a natural gives the wrong impression of a stone, which is commonly understood, yet still people like to hammer it home that coticules are 'only' 8000.

    Also, you can shave as comfortably off (at least mine) BBW's as you can off coticules.

    I have five different strata and they all make nice finishers, even though they vary quite a bit in hardness. At least the ones I have are very versatile.

    Plus for beginners, the unicot method is quite fool-proof, given that your honing technique is good. I shaved quite nicely with the first razor I ever honed, on a coticule. Not even using a strict unicot, and I finished on coticule after BBW.