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Is what makes coticules good?


Well-Known Member
OK - I know it's a really fatuous subject title, but I didn't know what else to put.

I've had great success honing a razor on coticules - but because is such a supportive and informative site I've been wondering lately if they are the best solution for sharpening a razor, or whether the support network and information here allow us to learn the skills needed to hone very easily and ask any question about their use safe that someone will answer with a great tip of wisdom to allow us to progress.

What do you think?


Well-Known Member
Thats a good question

I believe that the "Best" sharpening stone is a very subjective matter, there are many many many stones and hones out there, that will do the job nicely, for me the best I found was indeed the Coticule, I can get sharper edges off high grit manmades, but my face doesnt like them, and neither does my wallet, I like using one stone from start to finish too, and I have used other stones for this, but somehow they dont quite give me the smooth forgiving edge that I can get with a Coticule.

I also really enjoy using Coticules for many reasons, I love the tactile feel, the romantic association they have with days gone by, the fact that we as end users are helping to support a small local (to Belgium) business, etc etc.

It has always been the aim of to help to educate and support Coticule users to get the very best from their stones, and by the sounds of it we are doing well in that department :thumbup:

I have had instruction and support from the users of other stones and systems, and tried out a few ways to get a good shaving edge, but I always stuck with my Coticules because for me at least I believe they give me the "best" edges.

Ralfson (Dr)


Well-Known Member
I know it's a well meant question. I holds a compliment for this website and it's forum, and as such it is well-taken.
But the question also contains an irrelevant innuendo that sprouts from minds that cannot accept the fact that such a low-fi tool as a Coticule can rival the results of hi-fi sharpening solutions that involve collections of rare hone or otherwise just expensive hones. These minds prefer to cultivate the idea that you need special hones for different sorts of steel, that people can actually discern the difference between the shave off an Unobtainicul and the shave off an Imaginicon, both of course very expensive stones that only work well in a large progression of more indispensable hones.
I don't think there is any Internet forum about whatever subject where you don't fine an generous amount of "The Emperor's Clothes" mentality. Even does not escape, although we try.
Anyway, there was no Coticule controversy before I started commicating about ways to sharpen razors with only this one stone. Priorly, Coticules were just one of many finishing hones, preferred by some and not so preferred by others. The only difference was, that those who didn't use or didn't like simply didn't bother to interfere in conversations about this hone. Nowadays, it has become almost impossible to have a sensible conversation on some forums, without the risk that you are: A. called a liar when you testiy that you prefer your Cotticule for it's finishing capabilities, B. treated as an ignorant sucker who doesn't know any better, C. buliied for "not accepting that there are better hones", D. (here comes the innuendo of your question) treated as someone who prefers to use an inept tool for the job, and can only get a way with it, barely of course, because of a painstaking amount of practice, that no sensible man would ever undertake. Something like driving your car with your feet. Or shaving with one of those obsolete straight razors. Only fools indulge into such stupid activities.

The question is irrelevant, but just for the sake of it, Coticules aren't any more difficult than any other sharpening solution that aim to shave straight off the stone, without any additional stropping on abrasives. Anyone with some dexterity and the willingness to follow a few simple instructions, can sharpen a razor with a Coticule. I've seen plenty people succeed at their first attept. The same is true for most sharpening setups, by the way. In the past, such knowledge wasn't always as readily available as it is today, and I believe that to be one of the important drawbacks of straight razors, and reason why dispensable blades (DEs) were able to penetrate the market remarkably easy.

Shaving with a straight razor demands an amount of good old-fashioned skill. Isn't that what draws us too them? As easy as Unicot is, The Dilucot honing method for Coticules is almost equally demanding of skill, and I think that explains why it's so popular around this perimeters.

Kind regards,


I know cutqlery from a modest time. And I know that there is a lot of controversy and miths out there.
I´m cienteifc oriented. I need proofs.. Even when toalking of SomeOne Bigger than all of us.
I think coticule is a great stone. I canot take a final edge right now from them;.
I do not have the skill for that.
Every man action need skill to be done.
BUT, I dont think that some strange stones are the one solution for all;.
I see that kind of things in sport fishing, amateur radio, etc.. People think taht can do better with most expansive anda rare. Btu life poof me diferent.. I,m tired to see some one with a cheaper equip do better that some with a higher class
Also, I donot think that BBW could polish the edge.
We have to respect others, like Im seeing here, and, we donot have to agree with anyone out there.
I have to take a good tima with my stones and razors. Thats all.
If I take more time than others, and I use some cheaper tools, thats my problem,. And no one have nothing with that..
I always apreciate advaising of how to do. But never accept orders..
I always have to think, prove, and testify..
Best regards...;
Thats human nature, and how life goes..



An interesting question, indeed. Here are some random thoughts.

  • [li]Honing is not rocket science. Jesse recently wrote
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    , and I would like to share one quote from it:
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    [li]There is an eerie correlation between commercial interest in hones (ie selling them, or selling honing services), and vehemence with which the Coticule approach to honing is being criticised. Bearing in mind that the seller in
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    is one of the reasons this site had to be founded in the first place, the asking price for an old piece of East German rock is... remarkable.[/li]
    [li]The anti-Coticule posse mentioned by Bart above have long since left the realm of reason and entered the realm of idiocy. I recently
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    , and quite frankly, it does not look pretty. As an interesting aside, the only two well written articles in SRP's honing section of the Wiki are about natural hones (
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To answer the original question: Coticules are one way of sharpening and maintaining a razor. Incidentally, one that is the best documented. I am convinced that the same results could be achieved with one Japanese hone or one Thuringian hone. But clearly, you will not get the same level or quality of support and documentation.

What really sets this site apart, though, is that it is all about empowering users. The site has the feel and the amount of honest support you would expect from a hobby site. There are only very few vendors here, and that is a good sign, if you ask me. So you get a lot of enthusiasm, and no hidden agendas. Which is how social communities should be.

So, SRP's ludicrous reactions to the mere mentioning of Coticules is not only, well, ludicrous, but also counter productive in terms of getting more people interested in honing (and using) razors. It clearly is the way their site management wants it to be, and that is fine by me. But I think the self proclaimed leading straight shaving forum could do better. Of course, they could do a lot worse, too,
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. ;)



Well-Known Member
Hi Bart,

Oh no. I knew I was going to phrase it in a clunky fashion :confused:

Bart said:
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I'm sorry if it seems like the question sounds like that. I don't really have much experience of the other straight shaving forums as they scared me off after a couple of posts with the ridiculous testosterone levels and egos I found before I ever got to the nitty-gritty of how to hone. I have never managed anywhere near as good an edge from other solutions despite following all the instructions given. So my question was meant to be phrased with the opposite intention from hinting at D, i.e. I know coticules are very good to hone razors on - but are there any others out there that would be 'as good' if they had a similar supporting network as

Bart said:
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That is exactly why I love the whole straight razor thing, honing included. It secretly massages my ego because I know I can do something really quite skilled (difficult in the eyes of others).



PS - I think I might like trying to drive with my feet if it were legal :D


Well-Known Member
Robin, I knew there was some kind of disagreement that caused the founding of this site - and to be honest, while I'm glad that this site exists, I'd rather not know the details :confused:

I absolutely love the article by Jesse though! Total common sense. I have already given in to some of the 'sins' of acquisitive behaviour, but at least I now know that acquisition is not any silver bullet - it just generates clutter in one's house and empties one's bank account!


I find it interesting that within the same forum that always mentions (shouts) that it is not an Escher unless the stone has a label, there have been quite a few sales of "unlabeled Escher's" for an insane amount of money as shown in Robin's link. You will not find a archive of these sales over the years though kept on that particular "forum" ( user interactive, vendor sales forum).


Well-Known Member
What appeals me to straight razor shaving was the possibility to rely only on myself without needing to buy disposable parts.
But what did decide me to hone my razor was I think I share the way of thinking of most members. The thing I like more in the coticule world is that the skill of a people is more important than the tool in itself.
Maybe coticules are not the best hones but I don't care as long as I can (or will able to) get the edge where I like.


Well-Known Member
chti_lolo said:
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OK, let's forget about the critics and their motives for being against Coticules, but make a more objective assessment of advantages and disadvantages of Coticules:

- they are low maintenance: They do not glaze, the wear only very slow, t hey don't require frequent lapping / deglazining
- they are always ready to go: They don't require soaking, a splash of water, a slurry stone and you can start working.
- they have a pale color: perfect to monitor what's going on with metal removal
- they provide among the most pleasant and "guiding" tactile feedback of all hones known. Even the critics admit that.
- many find them esthetically attractive. There are few tools you can grow as attached to as a Coticule whetstone.
- the resulting edges for shaving are known and proven to be very easy on the skin.
- information: they are well researched, and as stated in this thread, you can get assistance from many other users.
- versatileness: Coticules have a wide abrasive range: fast enough for significant steel removal when used with slurry, slow enough for a highly refined edge when used with water. Due to their impermeable surface, they also allow the use of alternative lubricants, such as oil, wax, silicone spray, soap, gum arabic, etc.

- Use of slurry greatly speeds up the abrasion, but poses a limit upon the keenness that can be reached.
- Variability. This translates mainly into speed variance and different keenness limits on slurry.
- Due to Coticules being natural rocks, cracks and inclusions can occur. Ardennes Coticule extends a no questions guarantee for the rare stone that escapes their triage.
- The gap between the keenness off slurry and the end keenness that can be reached on water, can be challenging to bridge, depending on the chosen honing procedure.

False allegations:
- "Coticules varie between 3K and 12K". Natural hones are not made from unified particles, hence there is no relevant grit rating. WIth proper use, any Coticule can easily provide a keen and smooth edge, apt for a nice shave. Those who state otherwise either refuse, or do no know, how to use the hones to that extent.
- "Old Coticules are better than newly mined production". This is nonsense. They way the layers occur in the underground, it is impossible to collect the "best" rocks first and leave the "worst" for later. Also a factual comparision of old and recent stock, displayed no differences.

Best regards,