Thoughts on Coticule purchases

fdennis

Member
Maybe people who buy multiple stones don't sell them, but maybe they do--else they have one heck of a personal collection. That is beside the point. I'm new to coticules, but not new to shaving and honing. Like many of the people on this forum, I am in the never ending, futile, but rewarding, quest for the perfect edge and the perfect shave. I think I'd like to try a coticule, but I'm leery of the possibility that what I buy, sight unseen, might not be the best for me. I want the best, or what I think is the best, because if I don't get it, I'll never know if coticule sharpening is for me. I use artificial water stones of various makes, diamond stones, along with strops, hones, pastes, etc. Whatever I buy that's artificial probably is manufactured to a certain standard, so I know (pretty much) what I'm getting. If coticules vary in quality, hardness, fineness, etc., or whatever quality it takes to get the finest edge possible, how do I know what I'm getting. Also, I can't stay in front of my computer for hours, waiting for a new list of stones. I guess that means I have to buy from a retailer, but still, the questions remain. What do I do? I'd really like to try a coticule, but I have reservations.....Dennis
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
Dennis, I've split off your post into a new thread.

The point you make in interesting enough to deserve a separate thread.
It's not 2:30 AM in Belgium. I will spend time to formulate my own thoughts on the matter in a proper reply tomorrow.

Kind regards,
Bart.
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
Bart has just demonstrated what is so terrible about this little hobby. On a Wednesday night (Thursday morning), normal people aren't sitting up at 2:30 am thinking about honing razors :lol:

Here are my thoughts, Dennis. You're likely not going to be satisfied with a coticule if you buy one with your stated approach, and here's why I say that: You seem to be on a never ending quest that quite likely will preclude you from taking the amount of time that it takes to learn your stone and really maximize the results. When I learned my first one, it was quite a while (and I'd been honing for a while and was getting phenomenal edges with my Shaptons) before I really got great results. So, I thought I was ready for another one, and each other one that I've tried has had its own learning curve for me. Bart probably doesn't experience this is much as me, but he's also tested many many more than me. However, the romanticism of taking a single stone and using it to make a piece of steel sharp enough to shave with comfortably is what brought me to coticules, and it just so happens that I happen to prefer the way my face feels after a shave with a coticule edge to the others that I've used.

Instead of buying a coticule, I'd recommend utilizing the free sharpening service offered here to see what you think. Then, you can determine if you think it's worth exploring further.

This is where ADs die, my friend... Welcome to Coticule.be :thumbup:
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
Fear not my friend; men have been using this stone to sharpen razors for a few hundred years… or more. And they all had to run the “gauntlet” as you suggest.

Some cut slow, some fast (I believe in the old days, cutting speed was a variable of quality). Some have “draw”, and some like glass. Some will slurry with water, and some will not. Some are highly figured and some are (for want of a better word)… “Un-blemished”, and there's much variation between the extremes.

But they will all get you a much better than the average edge, so long as you take the time to know the hone, no two Coticules are exactly alike, and that’s the fun, and you may learn something about sharpening that you can take to any other type of hone and achieve success.

With all that said… I began with man-made hones too (the complete Norton set… and several barber hones just for fun). I learned to sharpen razors with the Norton, but ever since I started using a Coticule I never looked back.
Unless you are restoring vintage razors, most razors you will ever encounter, will need little more than a touch-up, and some fast Coticules will quickly set a bevel on the average full hollow ground razor.

Lastly, nothing wrong if you decide one day to sell your hone… in fact, a Coticule may return most of your money… and if not… it’s a small price to pay for the ride.

Again... fear not the Coticule... it promises to be a fun ride.
 

fdennis

Member
I have been honing blades (knives, chisels, plane blades, and razor blades) for more years than I care to count. I have used a variety of sharpening media, and I make it a point to learn to use each, to the limits of its and my capabilities. Using Norton stones, followed by Shapton, followed by Chroimium oxide, Diamond paste, and a leather hone, I think I can develope an edge with the best of honers. I'm not thinking I should try a coticule in order to get an even finer edge. I just want to see what a coticule can do, if I do my part. I don't know why I hadn't heard of coticules before now--maybe it's just because I never felt the need to delve farther into straight razor honing. I sorta' found this and other straight razor forums by accident, and I keep finding more all the time. My point about coticules is this: If I were learning to hone with, say a stone made with a man made material, I wouldn't start with a brick or a cinder block. Same with natural materials. If I were starting out to learn to hone with man made material, I'd start with a material that experienced users generally agree will give a decent edge with not too much effort--for example Norton hones. I don't know anything about coticules, but I suspect that being natural, they vary in quality, consistency, fineness, whatever word we want to use to describe their ability to refine an edge to the ultimate degree that stone is capable of delivering, in the right hands. My point was, I don't want to start with the cinder block equivalent of a coticule to learn to use a coticule, before I graduate to a better level. I think my ability to hone, my willingness to learn and to experiment, makes it a waste of time for me to start with a lesser quality stone, than the best I can get. Now don't get me wrong. I know so little about coticules that I may be way off track here. Are you all saying that coticules have such inherent qualities that any coticule has within it the potential for creating the ultimate in fineness, if I do my part? I doubt that is true. If I were to have been able to see the list in the Coticule Vault before members made their selection, I'll bet I could guess which coticules went first. Even if that is true, I still wonder why I would want to start with a stone that requires me to exert superhuman efforts to get a fine edge (not that I am super human), when I could start with another coticule that allows me to get to that point with less effort. (I'm a lot of things, but I'm not masochistic, and I'd like to think I'm not stupid, although I suspect some respondents to this post will disagree.) Still, because of my ignorance about coticules, I may be missing the point of their inherent characteristics. In summary, I am willing to learn what coticules have to teach me, but I don't want to start in kindergarten.
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
Dennis,

I hope that you didn't take my post to mean that I think you're stupid. That couldn't be further from my point. Coticules all have different characteristics. Some veins have consistency within the layers, while others vary. I'm sure Bart will chime in soon about those differences considering he's had more experience with them than anyone, but the vast majority of them will deliver excellent edges if the honer does his part.

Additionally, I wasn't questioning either your ability to learn, follow instructions, or hone a razor either. However, I've seen it numerous times that guys who are experienced (in fact good) with other types of stones fail to follow the instructions assuming that a coticule works just like any other stone they've used... It does not. There are threads here where guys had that "aha" moment, and there's another thread here where the OP never did (proclaiming only 3 out of the 136 coticules he's tried to be "good")... Either we are the luckiest group of people on the planet, or there's a gap in understanding somehow.

That's also why I recommended that if you want to see what one will do, the best way to tell is have Bart or Ray hone a razor for you. Then, you can benchmark your efforts as you examine the wonders of the coticule.

I mean no disrespect in my posts to you, and if I came off that way, please accept my apology.

Cheers,
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
Hi Dennis :)

As said on the free honing service, that way you get to see if you like a pure Coticule edge, not everyone does, most do, and some find them wonderful.
My experience with them is that if you can get the absolute best out of your coticule, the shave will be jaw dropping!
By that I mean it will cut whiskers effortlessly, and be so skin friendly that you can be fooled into thinking that the edge is dull, my acid test is 4 passes at 45* across my neck, 2 up and 2 down as it were, if I can do that and have a BBS shave with no burn, rash, bumps, or weepers, the edge is good enough.

for me after a little over 12months with no previous experience at all, that happens quite often, the rest of the time I can achieve a very very nice shave, its getting that last tiny little bit out of the hone that is the greatest challenge and of course delivers the best reward.

Every Single Coticule Is Capable Of Producing A Wonderful Shaving Edge!Allow me to repeat that: Every Single Coticule Is Capable Of Producing A Wonderful Shaving Edge! with very very few exceptions, IMHO the main differences between Coticules are speed on slurry and speed on water, a fast cutter on slurry can tend to be a slow finisher on water. it is vital that the user knows the stone and has devoted enough brain power to work out how best to use it.

Anyone who has tried say 3 Coticules and failed to produce a jaw dropping edge, lacks either the knowledge or skill needed. PERIOD

On this site I believe we have probably the largest group of enthusiasts, that will offer good true honest advice, and have a great deal of knowledge when it comes to the skills needed to extract the best from whichever coticule you may decide to buy. I know without the patience and guidance of my honing mentor Bart, and the other guys here I would have sold my stones by now and just settled for the shaves off man-made's, pastes, etc.

I wish you every success on your imminent journey into this fine art, and please remember the only wrong questions are those you think of but do not ask ;) the guys that have most experience tend to be, but are not in any way limited too, the members with "Researcher" tags

I hope I have been and can continue be of help.

My kindest regards
Ralfson (Dr)
 

fdennis

Member
You all have convinced me to send a razor to Ray for honing (Bart, I mean no disrespect; it's just that you are too far away!) I just have to find a razor to send. (I'm collecting a few razors to restore, mostly for the purpose of having more blades to hone, if you can believe that!) I see no useful purpose in re honing a razor I have already honed, so I'm leaning toward sending a razor honed by a "honemeister," or buying a new unhoned razor to send. Now that I think more about it, I have a new-to-me razor which I don't think shaves very well. That will be a good test.

One more thing: If I decide to buy a coticule, you can be assured that I will devote as much time as is necessary to learning to use it. I'm not interested in anything other than seeing if a coticule will help me to develop a razor capable of a better shave.

By the way, from time to time, I have read statements to the effect that a particular razor cuts like "cutting through butter." I've cut butter, and I've cut whiskers, and I have yet to find a blade that cuts whiskers like it cuts through butter, but I'm still looking, and I'm never going to give up.

fdennis
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
fdennis said:
By the way, from time to time, I have read statements to the effect that a particular razor cuts like "cutting through butter." I've cut butter, and I've cut whiskers, and I have yet to find a blade that cuts whiskers like it cuts through butter, but I'm still looking, and I'm never going to give up.

fdennis
Me neither Dennis, we are after all cutting hair, not soft dairy produce. ... lol
I have tried razors that come close though, the only problem being that they also seemed keen cut skin as well.
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
Dennis, that’s good; most of us can get a razor sharp on almost any hone, in fact most us started with man-made hones, but prefer the Coticule because the sharpening can all be done without the loooong progression of different abrasives (or Grit progression). From setting bevels to the strop… most of us have only one hone in the so called “progression”.

I tried to suggest in my previous post, but let me explain. Most folks use the word “quality” to mean “with natural stones there is the chance you get a substandard stone”. First, when they take these stones out the ground, it is examined for the usual defects that could adversely affect the edge of a razor, so you will scarcely get a substandard product. Second, we are all human… the examination at the mine is not perfect, so you get a guarantee (and Andennes can give you further details)... If you discover the stone is not suitable for razors, you contact Andennes and easily have it exchanged for another, even if you bought it from some other vendor. This is because all Coticule sold today are from the same mine in Belgium, no matter where else in the world you bought it (exceptions are vintage hones).

I hope this puts your fears to rest as far as “quality” is concerned.
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
Gentlemen,

this is a great thread. I think a lot of valuable points have been made, both by the original poster (fdennis), and by the rest of you.

During the day, without having read any of the answers, I've written on and off on a post to fit in this thread.
Some of what I wrote was already covered or clarified by fdennis. Please bear with any repetition from my side.

Here comes:

The quest for the ultimate edge can take several incarnations.

Is it a quest for sharpness? If the answer to that question is yes, save the money for a Coticule and buy lapping film instead. If you take it all the way to 0.1µ (add one sheet of paper underneath the films below 1µ for a minimal bit of cushion), you will get the sharpest edge you ever experienced. That edge will disintegrate, probably even before the end of the first shave, because no steel is capable to withstand the stresses of the shave at such a thin apex. The peeling effect on the skin of such an edge is extremely high, and it immediately retaliates every minor deviation in an ultra light and angle-aware shaving technique. I would call that "too sharp", but I've ran into discussions with people like Glen Mercurio who deny that an edge can be too sharp and use the euphemism "harsh" instead. Fact remains that one can also choose to finish the lapping film progression one or two stops earlier, at 0.3µ or at 1µ, and experience edges that last longer and still glide through whiskers without any effort. Such edges are kinder to the skin of a most people. I have tried this approach to sharpening myself, and came to the conclusion that diamond lapping film is the easiest way I know to push the keenness of your razors through a barrier where you likely find it too much. There is no natural or man-made solution that can define a thinner and cleaner edge than lapping film. That's because the film offers a perfectly smooth surface with the thinnest possible coat of abrasives. A hone is always a solid mass of packed abrasives, and its surface can never reach the level of perfection of a lapping film. But obviously you can come very close with hones in the ultra high grit ranges and/or diamond spray up to 0.25µ.
Bottom line: if you want to explore the limits of keenness, go with man-made materials. They hold a clear technological advantage in that field. But there is a chance that you may return slightly disappointed from that journey, because not everyone finds his shaving nirvana on the peaks of ultimate sharpness.

Which brings us to the next question:
Is it a quest for smoothness? Is there even a difference between these two: keenness and smoothness? I believe smoothness has 2 attributes. The first in indeed keenness related. If the razor does not slices effortlessly enough through the beard, the user will experience a pulling sensation. He will be tempted to apply more pressure on the razor to achieve a close shave, which will lead to skin irritation. Therefor, a razor that lacks keenness, will never offer a "smooth" shave. But as I already mentioned in the previous paragraph, depending on personal shaving style and skin properties, there will likely be a point where the razor can be too keen (or too "harsh", if you wish). Problems in this area may not be noticed as much during the shave, as the skin my protest after the shave (or in mild cases: after a few shaves). Additionally, superficial nicks and bleeding weepers may be occurring.
A truly smooth razor will support a daily shaving routine that allows the owner to be impeccably shaven without any worries about skin condition. I believe that sweet spot can be found where personal shaving style and skin properties meet adequate keenness.

On a more technological note, if we can agree that a smooth edge does not call for the physically keenest edge possible, we are left with a new variable. Allow me to explain. A mathematically keen edge has bevel faces that meet at an infinitely small line. That line cannot else than to be uninterrupted. But if the razor must be less than mathematically keen - whether we choose it to be that way or we're just unable to get it that keen, is irrelevant - we are left with a region at the "summit" of the bevel, that is undefined. We could call it the thickness of the edge and we know that, for shaving purposes, this thickness was measured by Professor Verhoeven to be 0.5µ or less. Note that a difference of as little as 0.1µ may not appear as significant, but in reality it denotes a keenness difference of 20% (0.4µ is 20% less than 0.5µ)
This small region is without doubt affected by stropping, but I believe also the finishing hone has a substantial influence on that part of the edge. Razors are probably the only entity in the domain of sharp utensils where that kind of honing influences have any practical meaning: we are cutting one thing(hair) while at the same time avoiding to blemish another thing (skin). This is were natural hones truly shine. (See, these ramblings are actually leading somewhere. :)) Synthetic hones are not specifically created for razor honing. They're aimed to deliver fast results and to work well in a progression with other hones of the same brand. Natural hones, on the other hand, are not made for honing. They just happen to be suitable for it. And through the ages of humans putting them to use, some of these rocks have surpassed their local whereabouts. Some surpassed even there regional identity, their national fame, and eventually became in use all over the world. Why do you think Coticules could be found in barbershops all over the globe?
Yet there were other rocks of similar reputation and it is not the scope of Coticule.be to claim that Coticules are the best a man can get. It is our scope to help the man get the best out of his particular natural hone. Nothing more and nothing less.

Will a Coticule help you find your sweet spot? Unpredictable. More than with any other sharpening setup I familiarized myself with, reaching a good edge on a Coticule is a personal achievement, rather than an achievement of the tool. Used with slurry Coticules are powerful enough to shape a bevel, and used with water they are gentle enough to put an amazing finish on an edge. But getting that edge keen enough to deserve such astounding finish, can be rather evasive. If one's prepared to use a few capable synthetic hones to meet that keenness before finishing, one can estimate the value of a Coticule without much trouble, certainly if you've already mastered the synthetic route. On the other hand, someone who's struggling with finding sufficient keenness with a synthetic setup, must not expect any solace from a Coticule. I have the feeling that Eschers are better for that purpose, as they seem more prone to add keenness in the way a synthetic hone can.

And for a third and final question: Is it a quest for more accomplishment? As already briefly stated, sharpening with a Coticule can be a very fulfilling activity, that won't be matched by any other hone, except by the venerable Japanese hones. One takes a razor and a Coticule, and by the time one's finished, one shaves with that razor and walks away like a king who just visited his blooming kingdom. I can't describe it any better than that. It may appeal to you, or it may not. It is fine either way.

Kind regards,
Bart.
 

torbenbp

Well-Known Member
" Life is like a box of chocolate..you`ll never know what you get" Forrest Gump.
This seems to be the most common concern regarding coticules. Though it has been said many times: All coticules provides an excellent result..in the right hands. I`m a lousy honer,but I do take pride in honing and finishing a razor on a single rock. You will get more consistent results with artificial hones,but you know that. A high degree of sharpness can be obtained with artificial hones,but to my,very limited experience, a less sharp coti honed razor will give a beter shave than the sharper artificial honed one..

My one and only trouble with my one and only coti: It`s too short. This is a 40 by 150 mm stone.A 200 mm+ rock would be great.
Regards
Torbs...ZZZZZ..YES I`m awake!
 

wdwrx

Well-Known Member
richmondesi said:
Bart has just demonstrated what is so terrible about this little hobby. On a Wednesday night (Thursday morning), normal people aren't sitting up at 2:30 am thinking about honing razors :lol: ...
Their not?... :confused:


In all seriousness, this is a fantastic thread. I was tempted to start quoting with "what he said" appended, and then I realized i would end up quoting the entire thread.

This is epic. Everything that is the beauty of using a coticule has been said.

My kindest regards, and best of luck on your journey fdennis,

-Chris
 

Matt

Well-Known Member
Okay... A short quiz, I just couldn't help myself:

'Well, let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet.'
Which film? :lol:

cheers,
Matt

PS. Seriously, truly valuable posts. Bart, I see you're working hard on the book. :D :thumbup:
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
Anyone that knows me (well :rolleyes: )knows that I know the answer to this quiz. But in case anyone needs another hint:

The Bonnie Situation...
 

fdennis

Member
Thanks everyone for your thoughts and advice. I'm sending a razor to Ray this morning, and I'll go from there. I have little doubt that I'm going to end up buying and trying a coticule. Heck, I've bought and tried just about everything else. I think there isn't going to be anything that beats (or can match) micro lapping film, down to small fractions of a micron, for developing the finest possible edge, but I'm keeping an open mind about developing an edge for the best possible shave. Who knows; I might find an edge that shaves like cutting through butter! All I want to do is to keep experimenting and learning. Regards, Dennis
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
Matt said:
Okay... A short quiz, I just couldn't help myself:

'Well, let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet.'
Which film? :lol:

cheers,
Matt

PS. Seriously, truly valuable posts. Bart, I see you're working hard on the book. :D :thumbup:
That's thirty minutes away. I'll be there in ten
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
fdennis said:
Thanks everyone for your thoughts and advice. I'm sending a razor to Ray this morning, and I'll go from there. I have little doubt that I'm going to end up buying and trying a coticule. Heck, I've bought and tried just about everything else. I think there isn't going to be anything that beats (or can match) micro lapping film, down to small fractions of a micron, for developing the finest possible edge, but I'm keeping an open mind about developing an edge for the best possible shave. Who knows; I might find an edge that shaves like cutting through butter! All I want to do is to keep experimenting and learning. Regards, Dennis
I look forward to hearing how the journey continues Dennis, thank you for being apart of this.

Oh BTW before you do actually buy your coticule, someone told you about SHITCA right? yeah of course they did, I mean no one on here would just let you buy a Coticule without explaining the full implications of your pending purchase, Sorry for asking please excuse me.

My best regards
Ralfson (Official SHITCA Tattooist and National Enforcement Officer U.K Division)
 
Top