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Understanding coticules


Well-Known Member
I'm curious about these stones...I'm curious about ALL natural stones, in fact, but coticules seem so romantic, somehow.

Something I would like to know is if it is possible to understand the working of a coticule, it's speed, it's finish, etc., from physical characteristics. Meaning, is the only way to get to know the stone other than by using it over a long time?

From what I understand, this is the way it works with Japanese hones, and I assume the same would be true of any natural hone, but with an expert like Bart around, I wonder if there is any other insight we could get...

Thanks, as always.

Hi Jim, I'm a vendor, and I still don't know it all. Natural hones are wonderful, and each are different in their own. That's why I hang around Bart. I've read his story about his journey to Ardennes many times and it never get's old. I'd love to do that myself one day. I have quite a collectin of Coticule, all different shapes, sizes, speeds, and overall abilities. That's the beauty of a natural hone. Now, you can go buy a Naniwa 12k, your gonna get just that. or you can buy a Shapton 16k, and it will do that. But where the versatility, like with a Coti. I have a Japanese Nat too, a Nakayama, another one of my fav's...(sorry Bart) Don't kill me....! Bart know's I'm a coti guy through and through. I think we can say that a Coticule is 8k grit and a BBW is 4k grit, but then different one's have different abilities, and then add a slurry, forget about it....

But you can read Bart's post about the Coticule on here and their unique garnet's to give you some insight.
First off, For the record:rolleyes:

I love my Nakayama. I can't afford owning more than one, and it sometimes stares at me from withing the drawer where it lives among its 3 Coticule friends, and I feel guilty for not using it more. But I love the way it glides, I love the way it smells and I love the edges it puts on a razor.

The fact that I love Coticules more, is because I am Belgian, as are they, and I feel connected to the generations that have mined them for so many centuries, and I sympathize with the people that mine them today. I love them for their tradition.

Would I be born and raised in Japan, odds are high that this website would have called (or something like that).
Personally I can't discern between the edges I can from both, and that speaks in favor of Nakayamas and Coticules.

If you guys feel you have to discuss them and compare them on this website, please be my guest. And whatever you like best... well you like best.:)
Is that fair enough?

Now. To answer the original question,
It's true. Their is no substitute for prolonged experience on one and the same hone.
I get my best edges on my every day Coticule workhorse. It's the one that can be seen in the Unicot honing video. There's nothing special about that hone. (It's the first one I ever really honed on). It's just that I am in tune with it. It's impossible to explain.
I know what to do, when to do it and how much to do on that hone. I can probably hone a razor on it without doing one lap to many. Something I can't do on any other Coticule.
It gives me a very high success rate at the Dilucot procedure, while unknown Coticules more often abandon me on that method.

Luckily, there is something like the Uncicot procedure. It is much less critical to "feel" and "magic touch", and allows for fairly easy results that reside at the extreme limits of what the hone can provide. May it be less traditional, and certainly far less "Zen", if you want to put a good edge on a razor without much of the above nonsense, Unicot is the way to go, and I doubt there would be much difference between the edge I produce and the on my 11 year old daughter could produce under my supervision with that method.
I have to say i can pass hht with unicot method every time straight of the hone only just on dilucot method after stropping for sure after paste perfect
I can hardly wait to start on Coticules. My first natural stone was a Kiita, and I think there is something romantic about natural stones as well... I could use that stone as my finisher and be content for the rest of my life most likely. But, like Jim said, there is a draw towards all natural stones for me as well... I can hardly wait for my Coti to get here!

Thanks, Bart. This site is fantastic!
I stumbled over coticules while searching for a kitchen stone, something fine grained and not too hard, to replace a stone my father owned. That stone was (to my knowledge) 200x50x25mm, medium grey, very consistent throughout, and probably 2000-3000 grit, as it would produce very fine edges but not mirror polished. I think it came from east germany, and my father bought it on the german black market in 1959 for 50 marks. A substantial price for a whetstone, at that time. Can you tell I'm still in search of? ;)

So coticules..snagged one off ebay, a natural combo stone with maybe 6mm of coticule and 25mm of BBW. Needless to say, I didn't know what I had, and the seller didn't either. 12$ + 7$ shipping, 2005..

As happens, it's the thickest BBW I've stumbled over yet, and wish to HECK there were 1" thick BBW's available..

So I'm of the opinion this combo rock that started me chasing coticules is somewhat old, a WWII/Occupation 'bring-back', as was the stone my dad snagged.

It showed wear on the BBW side but no evidence the coticule had even been touched, and that's how I used it, because I didn't know any better.

So I started trying to find a larger one, and EVENTUALLY discovered what the origin was, and vendors who actually sold them. Now I have the minimum necessary, and am only seeking the largest size available to match my largest knives. Any knowledge of BBW/Combo stones >250mm would be much appreciated. That they are valued > 300 euro is unfortunate but it's not likely to go down soon, so if'n when such is available, I want..

And coticules led me to japanese finishing stones, about which I'm even more ignorant, and that revealed the blue aoto, which is a nice kitchen rock..and THAT led me to the finnish 'mudstone' which acts somewhat similarly..

I'm not as fond of coticules as BBW's, strictly because I use them less. I've nonetheless tried hard to get a superior coticule razor hone, because EVENTUALLY I will be shaving with a straight razor I've honed. I allowed this year to find, restore, hone, & use a premium quality razor that is currently unemployed. Shouldn't be too difficult compared to the east german kitchen stone, which I still don't own, will buy, and want to know about if you've a spare.

Do NOT tell me about stones of that description that are unavailable. It hurts.
Received and tested the Fox (Fuchs) hone, and it is indeed the one I've chased lo these many years. 8x2x3/4, I got the thinnest of the 3, and paid least, fairly enough. I tested it on two knives and it makes nearly no slurry, a faint hint. It's slightly drying, if not soaked a bit, and has a very smooth even bite, lovely balance between grinding and floating, excellent feedback to the amount of pressure used.

For razors it's a repair hone, possibly useful setting bevels, but it will leave a fine toothed edge moreso than a smooth one, and I don't know that the stone is fine enough to finish a razor anyway. I believe without a shave test that it's too coarse for comfort.

But for knives, it's a fast cutting spot on dream hone. Along with the finer Covenant hone, they'll move things smartly from the King (1200) to the Coticule.

I'm not sure how this new hone and the Covenant and Aoto's work together..even the relative grit size and smoothness in action is much a mystery.

I will say the Covenant appears to resemble an Escher/Thuringian much moreso than does the Fuchs. *It* appears to be precisely what it is, a supreme kitchen hone and I couldn't be happier unless it were twins. ;) I also received the 2x6 double with double slurry stone from Howard, and I tested the mini hone I schnuck out from under CroMagnon on ebay, and it's a FINE little portable razor hone. A travelers hone deluxe, well worth the trifling pittance they demanded for ransom. Since I've been registered over here I've practically doubled my high end stones, with the exception of japanese. They have gotten so expensive I'm concentrating elsewhere.

For now. I suppose I should do my nightly practice hone, instead of bubbling with demented glee, but I've never had a better week gleaning good stones. There won't be another holy grail, and you can only capture it once for the first time.
For those interested in all things associated with coticule, there is an interesting multidisciplinary publication available (in French only :( ) from the Geological Survey of Belgium. As I am not a geologist, it took me some time to learn about the coticule. I was ignorant that the region of Vielsalm was quite famous for it's 'yellow and blue gold', and somehow the word lingered in my memory. It was by accident that I stumbled on this publication, which revealed not only it's geological settings, but it also gives me much fun in learning about the historical, biological, human and commercial aspects of our coticule. The book (Ardoise et Coticule en Terre de Salm) has around 400 pages of information with lots of beautiful pictures. A description can be found at: (then go to the button slate and coticule).