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To all aspiring razor honers- The X-stroke - read first


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Several honing methods are described on this website, in the "Sharpening Academy". They're all devised to work as consistently as possible. Different people will most certainly favor different approaches, that's why we offer all these varying honing methods. But I'm also constantly pondering about the didactics of honing. What's the best way to learn how to get decent results in a reasonable timespan? Not an easy question.
One thing I have noticed lately, is that guys who arrive at with honing experience on other hones under the belt, almost instantly pick on with successful Coticule honing. At the same time, we see total newbies struggle for days and days. To some extent, that is quite normal. A new honer must learn all these aspects that are so totally natural for someone that's been around for awhile. But still, it should not take so long to get great results.
Last Sunday, I had 2 fine gentlemen over at my home, that each requested to talk about razor sharpening. We talked most of the afternoon, while everyone sat behind a Coticule with a razor in his hand.:) After they left, I was wondering how much they actually learned. All the facts I told, are already found on the website. Maybe I should have focused more on the practical side. But there's one thing I learned. It's not good to learn the half X-strokes, before learning the regular X-stroke. Learning the regular X-stroke first, invites to adopt a good razor grip, that allows for even pressure during both parts of the honing stroke. I also allows for a perfect flipping motion, both beneficial to honing and stropping. Transgressing to finger-pressured "halfstrokes" after that is a matter of minutes. Literally. Halfstrokes are much easier to learn, but you can do them in many ways. Ways that need to be altered for doing a good regular X-stroke. That's why I strongly advice to not rely on halfstrokes before you can confidently perform the regular X-stroke. Where the various methods in the Coticule Sharpening Academy say to do halfstrokes, just do regular X-strokes with a bit of extra pressure. Enough to make the slurry turn gray. Right now, you don't need the extra speed of the halfstrokes. You need your time practicing the regular X-stroke.

Here a video that shows how it's done. Don't worry about speed. Speed comes naturally with experience.
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Thanks Bart. I 100% concur it is all about technique. To prove that I have just honed up a crown and sword on a piece of coticule 3ins by 1 1/2 in - very small. Dilucot just used the right technique (all on this site)


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Thank you Bart for your efforts put into turning us, newbies, into rightful hone practitioners. :thumbup:
I hope you won't lose your patience with us.


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maro said:
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I won't. Patience is my middle name:). But I know most people nowadays are not as prepared as you are to spend many days trying to master something. That's why I try to come up with didactics that optimizes the learning curve.

Kind regards,


Well-Known Member
Dear Bart Patience Torfs,

Thanks for your work on this. I really wish that I knew of this resource when I started out honing razors. It was after quite a bit of struggle and learning (getting good results but not what I was wanting) that I finally looked into Coticules. I'm not sure which is better for my success with coticules, but I know that I've come to find this an invaluable resource. I love your approach, and your willingness to help others. It's a great example for us all.



Thank you Bart! I have only used circles and x-strokes previously so I am starting from scratch with my coticule as if I know nothing (which I probably don't.)

I have always done X-Strokes with two hands. One on the tang and the other hand on the toe to make sure that the entire razor stays in contact with the hone. No pressure, just my index finger on the toe guiding the razor.

Is it advisable to break this habit and do x-strokes one handed only?


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fbones24 said:
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That's a hard question. Do what you feel most comfortable with, I say. But you will see majority of people honing with only one hand grip, especially with a coticule, when most often it's being held in the other hand. It might feel less comfortable at first, but the benefits are:

  • [li]a better pressure control;[/li]
    [li]more pronounced tactile feedback from the razor and the stone;[/li]
    [li]far easier rolling strokes (I believe, I haven't even tried to do a rolling stroke with two hands, but I imagine it to be pretty awkward);[/li]
If I were teaching somebody to hone, I'd definitely teach him/her to do it singlehandedly (?). The choice is, ultimately, yours. :)

best regards,


Matt said:
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Thank you for your reply and your advice. The point is moot as last night was day #2 of the 6 day tutorial and I honed with only one hand. I feel it is important for me to break the habit . I do leave the stone on a table while I sit, but I will try to hold the stone tonight in my hand while I hone. It is just easier while on the table to dilute.


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I think you are doing marvellously :thumbup:

When it comes time to add the finger of water, I used to put the razor down, or transfer the stone into the hand I held the razor in, what I have done for some time is simply use the little finger of the razor holding hand, and dip that into my little bowl of water, whilst still holding the razor, thus leaving the stone sitting comfortably in the palm of my left hand, if that makes sense?

Carry on the good work Sir, and you are already well on the way to mastering your Coticule, because you have the most important factor, you are enjoying it

My warmest regards
Ralfson (Dr)