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Oil on a Bout?


Active Member
I thought I'd post this one here too, I posted over on SRP out of habit. I was lurking around the net last night, bored out of my mind at work, and went looking at Coticule Vendors. I checked Howard's site and Best. Best always has low prices considering they import them to the U.S. New Jersey I believe. I have not dealt with the vendor, other than ask a few question, never to get an answer. I sent email 3 last night, so we'll see. I did hear some members on the other forum complain about the quality of their stones. The thing is, we all get them from the one and only quarry, Ardennes. If they are standard grade, the only difference is in cosmetics. The appearance of the hone, not the quality or usability. Every Coticule is different in my opinion and unique. You have to use and assess it's ability, is it fast, slow, pinkish, pale yellow, speckled, has some bbw in it? It really depends.

Anyway, I'm getting way off topic here. I read through all their stones, and when I got to the Bouts, it said, "Use with Oil". I never saw this before. What's more confusing, is in the description of their larger hones, the 8x3's, 6x2's, etc...
They say "Use with Water". Well, what's the difference in the two hones other than size. Is it somehow better to use oil on an odd shaped piece of Coti? I found this strange so I emailed them. They do not return my emails....

I have heard of old timers using oil on these stones. Guys have asked how to clean them up, Coticules they found at the flea market, which normally a lapping takes care of that. But I do not know anyone that uses oil on Coticules.
Not much I can add here. Great post, and I fully agree that each Coticule is unique in its kind.

I think that the oil comes from the fact that not all Coticules were always used on razors.
In the past, rectangular hones were considered to be used for razors, and bouts more for other tools, such as knives, chisels, plane blades, even axes. That still is partially true today: only the longer bouts really qualify for razor honing. Not because the other ones have different capabilities, but because you need some length and preferably at least one long edge that's straight, in order to perform a decent honing stroke for razors.

Anyway, many woodworkers and other craftsman are used to honing with oil on their coarser hones, and it would be logical for them to use their bouts with oil as well, since there is no real disadvantage.
I believe that's were the use of oil on Coticules originates.

Now, why "Best Sharpening" advices to use oil on their largest Coticules, I don't really know.

Best regards,