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A newbie perspective on coticules

I just read the thread about someone else struggling with coticules and it reminded me to post something I've been wanting to post for a while.

Do NOT take this as a reflection of the quality of coticules. The reason I'm writing this is that a lot of experts give their perspectives on coticules and recommend them as great hones, and I just wanted to share what I've experienced with honing on my 2 coticules. It would have been valuable for me as a newb to have heard other newbies talking about them, so maybe it will be for other newbs, too.

So, I have a 6x2 Dressante, a 7x1.5 vintage coticule, and a slurry stone. Even though I was new to x-strokes, I actually found the thinner stones to be quite nice. They actually made up for my uneven pressure by forcing me to hone more off the edge of the hone (by doing an x) so that all the blade got contact with the stone.

Now here's what I have really come to think as a result of my experiences and my discussions with others: coticules are NOT a great do-it-all hone for newbies. Maybe they're great finishers, but I wouldn't know since I spent my money on my Dressante as my only hone and couldn't afford other hones to use in a progression before my coticule (except a Naniwa 1k). Here's why I think they're not great as a do-it-all for newbies:

-Whether I tried unicot or dilucot, it was very difficult to determine when/how to dilute.
-I diluted slowly and quickly all the way in tons of different honing session and always came up with bad results.
-I tried pressure, no pressure, pressure at different stages and couldn't figure out what the hell to do.

What it boils down to for me is that using a coticule as my only hone was very confusing, because I was (am) never sure when to move on, or what to look for in the edge in the different "stages" of honing. I can't really call them stages, cause they weren't discrete.

I recently tried honing on Naniwas (Chosera 1k, superstone 5k & 8k) and got great results (for my face) on multiple razors with almost no effort. What seems to be true is that Naniwas are just a lot easier. I had discrete stages and discrete things to look for in my edges at each stage. This was very very helpful since I was (am) new to honing.


This is of course due to my ineptitude with honing, but that's the definition of a newb. I didn't start straight shaving with a 10/8 spike point blade with a 3.25" blade, and that was also due to a lack of skill. Nobody would recommend shaving with a monster on your first straight shave, and I would compare unicot/dilucot honing with that based on my experiences with it. I know that Bart is clear that they are advanced techniques, but somewhere along the way, I got the impression that a coticule would be a great do-it-all hone for someone looking for a cheap solution. I don't know why I got that impression, but that's irrelevant.
I'm just writing this for other newbs who also have this illusion. If you want to start honing with a very difficult introduction, you can. I know people who started with just one coticule and learned to use them successfully. But if you're looking for the easiest and most consistent way to hone, then I recommend Naniwas...

And before twenty people ask, yes my hones were flat. Yes the edges were chamfered...again, the point is that as someone very inexperienced with honing, all else being equal, coticule unicot/dilucot honing was much much harder for me than honing on Naniwas. You experienced guys probably know this, but maybe there are some newer inexperienced people who would benefit from reading this
 
You touch on a lot of good points for new straight shavers to keep in mind. 1 main one that I feel most look over is that not just coticules but natural stones all vary in characteristics. I've had a few coticules now and enjoy finding the curve for each one.

One thing that I wanted to point on your thread is that you didn't denounce coticules. Obviously they work, and work well, or else they wouldn't have been around for so long and still loved today. That is good for newer shavers to see and not get caught up with whatever flavor of the day set ups are being talked about and go into all hones with an open mind and make their own judgements.
 
You touch on a lot of good points for new straight shavers to keep in mind. 1 main one that I feel most look over is that not just coticules but natural stones all vary in characteristics. I've had a few coticules now and enjoy finding the curve for each one.

One thing that I wanted to point on your thread is that you didn't denounce coticules. Obviously they work, and work well, or else they wouldn't have been around for so long and still loved today. That is good for newer shavers to see and not get caught up with whatever flavor of the day set ups are being talked about and go into all hones with an open mind and make their own judgements.

Thanks for your post Mark. I tried my best to convey the difficulty I had with using a coticule as my first hone, without calling them bad hones.
I just think they'd be harder to use for all your honing than just using a set progression, especially if you're new to honing.
 
It's odd that I've also had different experiences since making that thread. I was able to successfully set a bevel with a coticule, then sharpen it, but for the life of me I cannot, and I mean absolutely cannot successfully use my coti as a finisher. I can't figure it out! So far, it seems best as a do-all before my Norton 8k then C12k, and I've been getting fantastic results this way. It's actually pretty easy used like this, but I wish I could get that coticule finish that everyone talks about.
 
Now here's what I have really come to think as a result of my experiences and my discussions with others: coticules are NOT a great do-it-all hone for newbies.
What it boils down to for me is that using a coticule as my only hone was very confusing, because I was (am) never sure when to move on, or what to look for in the edge in the different "stages" of honing.

This is of course due to my ineptitude with honing, but that's the definition of a newb. I didn't start straight shaving with a 10/8 spike point blade with a 3.25" blade, and that was also due to a lack of skill.

As someone relatively new to both shaving and coticle use, I agree with much of what you said. My first thought was that learning to hone on a coticle is probably no more difficult than learning shave effectively in the first place. Of course, you make this same point later in your post.

So, what's 'not-so-great' to one person is a just a learning curve to another. Different strokes, I guess. But, interesting perspective.
 
I think you are spot on when you say Coticules are not very good as final finishers. I personally use my Coticule, with slurry, like it is a 4K stone in my progression. I find the Cotuicule invaluable because it has so much feedback both tactile and audible. When I am done with the Coticule my bevel is very near perfect and the razor is ready for the final polishing process.


Later,
Richard
 
Thank you for your well written post as i am at exactly that stage in my journey. I have been having a similar discussion with another member here recently and that ended up being my decision, since i already owned a nani 12k that i had purchased for touch ups i decided to pick up the 5k and 8k stones to go with it and i feel sure that i will be heading down the coticule road in the future but everything i read seemed to be pointing at a steeper learning curve on the coti and thought the nanis might be a solution to keeping my razors usable while acquiring those skills. again thanks, IMHO this is exactly what i and many probably need to hear.
 
I think you are spot on when you say Coticules are not very good as final finishers.


Later,
Richard

I don't think no one actually said they are not very good finishers other than not working for them personally. I only use a coticule along with my Kiita and they both deliver an excellent edge alone if you decide to use them as a finisher after your progression with other stones.

Some coticules are slower than others and require more strokes and some are just great as a "do all" stone because of their natural characteristics. Don't knock the coticule though when its worked for centuries. That would be like someone saying any a Naniwa isn't very good just because I don't like the way it feels on my face.
 
From the very beginning Coticules have been used as finishers. Then along came guys who say use it for everything. I have no doubt it works for everything the same as some guys shave off a norton 4K. I think if you are going to be doing bevel creation there are better choices. For me I've been using the coticule for years and I get a great finished edge off it. Depending on the razor sometimes there are better alternatives.

I think guys get caught up in this quest for the ultimate edge which from a hobby viewpoint is fine. From a practical viewpoint I don't know.
 
the first time bart honed my razor on coticule only. i could not beleive how nice the edge was. thats when i new it could be acheived and since i do acheive the same edge 8 times out of 10. i my self find it just as consistant than i ever did my nortons. i do use a 1k naniwa or 1200 dmt to set bevels that need more work on. only to spare my coticules. each to there own i say . You need to master any hones that you use , i chose coticule and it works for me along with some kind of paste when needed.

i found the coticule more challanging. naniwas are also a very good hone to use they feel nice i prefer them over nortons.
 
.........Now here's what I have really come to think as a result of my experiences and my discussions with others: coticules are NOT a great do-it-all hone for newbies. Maybe they're great finishers, but I wouldn't know since I spent my money on my Dressante as my only hone and couldn't afford other hones to use in a progression before my coticule (except a Naniwa 1k). Here's why I think they're not great as a do-it-all for newbies:...........

This is what I was referring to in my post. I have heard and read that Coticules can be used with thick slurry and then progressively watered down till one gets to the point of no slurry. This is supposed to be a point that one can shave off the Coticule which is about 12K in grit give or take a margin for different stones. I consider my Coticule with slurry about 4K.
I personally, and I don't think that I am alone, can not shave off a 12K stone. I go to 30K with stones then 0.25 paste then 0.1 micron film. That is just what works for me and a lot of guys stop at 30K or some other finishing stone. I have the beard from hell and this is the only way that I can get a tug free non-irritating shave.


Thanks guys for the thread,
Richard
 
This is what I was referring to in my post. I have heard and read that Coticules can be used with thick slurry and then progressively watered down till one gets to the point of no slurry. This is supposed to be a point that one can shave off the Coticule which is about 12K in grit give or take a margin for different stones. I consider my Coticule with slurry about 4K.
I personally, and I don't think that I am alone, can not shave off a 12K stone. I go to 30K with stones then 0.25 paste then 0.1 micron film. That is just what works for me and a lot of guys stop at 30K or some other finishing stone. I have the beard from hell and this is the only way that I can get a tug free non-irritating shave.


Thanks guys for the thread,
Richard

I beg to differ. I have razors finished off a coticule by gxsixgun, and finished off an Escher by gugi.
They are all the smoothest razors I own, due to their skill.
I personally prefer the finish off a good strop more than that off a film.
The shave worthiness depends on the person honing them more than relying on a numerical grit rating.
 
It's odd that I've also had different experiences since making that thread. I was able to successfully set a bevel with a coticule, then sharpen it, but for the life of me I cannot, and I mean absolutely cannot successfully use my coti as a finisher. I can't figure it out! So far, it seems best as a do-all before my Norton 8k then C12k, and I've been getting fantastic results this way. It's actually pretty easy used like this, but I wish I could get that coticule finish that everyone talks about.

Actually this is a good point.

I can get beautiful bevels from my coticule, but can't finish the edge while diluting the slurry. That's the problem I always have with dilucot and unicot. I hone and hone and don't know how to dilute till shave-readiness. This is what I think is the hard part since there are no set stages or signs to look for. It's literally a fluid process that is harder to master in my opinion than a process that involves predetermined steps. There's basically a LOT more guess work when unicot/dilucot honing.
Honestly, it's not that hard to make a heavy slurry and set a bevel on a coticule in my opinion. It can take a lot of time. My problem is with the refining "stages" afterwards, since I don't know how to proceed. I imagine that it'll be as confusing for some other newbies as it was for me.

Using a 1k, then 5k, then 8k was a total revelation for me. It was so much easier to know when my edge was ready to move to the next stage that I eventually decided to post this thread since others may share my experience (or if they want, they can avoid my experiences with coticules and just use them in some other way or not use them at all).
 
... i my self find it just as consistant than i ever did my nortons...

This probably takes a really talented newbie or a lot of experience IMO.
Slurry is/can be different every time you (I) make it, whereas Naniwas (or other hones) are gonna be the same each time you use them, especially if you lap them well.
Also the dilution of slurry is likely to be different each time. Different water evaporation, different amounts of water added, etc...
If you have the skill though, I imagine it could be pretty fun to use just one hone.
 
This is what I was referring to in my post. I have heard and read that Coticules can be used with thick slurry and then progressively watered down till one gets to the point of no slurry. This is supposed to be a point that one can shave off the Coticule which is about 12K in grit give or take a margin for different stones. I consider my Coticule with slurry about 4K.
I personally, and I don't think that I am alone, can not shave off a 12K stone. I go to 30K with stones then 0.25 paste then 0.1 micron film. That is just what works for me and a lot of guys stop at 30K or some other finishing stone. I have the beard from hell and this is the only way that I can get a tug free non-irritating shave.


Thanks guys for the thread,
Richard

Richard, how long (how many shaves) do your edges last till you have to go back and freshen up the edge?
 
From the very beginning Coticules have been used as finishers. Then along came guys who say use it for everything. I have no doubt it works for everything the same as some guys shave off a norton 4K. I think if you are going to be doing bevel creation there are better choices. For me I've been using the coticule for years and I get a great finished edge off it. Depending on the razor sometimes there are better alternatives.

I think guys get caught up in this quest for the ultimate edge which from a hobby viewpoint is fine. From a practical viewpoint I don't know.

That's not really fair. It works almost as well as a full whetstone set start to finish if you are able to feel when a razor is ready to progress (a useful skill on synths too, but less obviously). I use it from time to time, but I find DMT's a hair more convenient and faster. If it was between Synth waterstones and the Coticule, I'd go to the Coti every time. I hate soaking and juggling a bunch of stones around, washing my blade every time I change stone, etc, etc, etc. Spritzing a stone with a spray bottle every few dozen strokes is much easier for me.
 
You guys still delivering power to LA? :laugh:

For now:lol::lol:

I hate soaking and juggling a bunch of stones around, washing my blade every time I change stone, etc, etc, etc. Spritzing a stone with a spray bottle every few dozen strokes is much easier for me.

This is a huge reason of using Japanese stones and coticules from start to finish.

One thing that has helped me greatly is making my own honing log on each razor and writing down the characteristics of each stone. As some mentioned, some coticules release a litter slower or faster that others and I think this is where newer straight shavers get lost. They confuse synthetics, which are consistent and if you use a 5k nani and I grab another members 5k, I would be able to get the same results.

With a coticule, no way. One of my favorite coticules, one that I just sold on BST, was a lot of fun using a dilution method. It worked better than almost all of my stones but it was smaller and was time to pass it on. But I knew exactly how it was going to perform.

I really recommend the honing log and write down exactly what methods are being used. I found out that using a spray bottle didn't work for me because it was difficult for me to calibrate the amount of water that was coming out so I turned to dipping my finger in water and the sea's parted and then there was light. So that's the only way to use that stone for me.
 
Yes, if you hone a lot of razors, I'd really advise against counting strokes. Rather I'd advise people practice and develop a feel for the developing of a razors edge as they hone. With this method, I pick up a new stone and after maybe fifteen minutes I'm pretty confident I can tell when I have gotten a razor to its max on that stone. * That's a big part of why I don't find coticules as challenging as most people. I have 3 coti's and a fourth on the way. I go from one to the other without noting or caring in the slightest which I'm using. Maybe one takes more passes than another. I really don't know. It's not really comparable anyway because their sizes and shapes are so different. This method of honing naturally mates amazingly well with the Unicot method of honing (make slurry, hone, thin, hone, thin, etc). If I had an 8x2 Coti, I'd probably only bother with my DMT's to remove chips. But because they're so much larger than my coti's and so agressive, as well as being just as straightforward to use as the Coti's, they're my usual method still. But over the past month or so, my Coti's have gotten more and more use.

But if you DO hone by counting strokes, then I'm sure getting a good set of synths and learning them inside and out is the best way to go.


I'm the opposite on the spray vs finger thing. I can't drip consistently at all, so the spray bottle set to mist is the way to go for me.


* The even bigger advantage is I don't have nearly as much Sharpeners mange as before because I tell how sharp the razor is on the stone rather than on my arms.

*+ The one exception is my Karasu, it's so smooth, I really can't tell what is going on with it. I'm still trying to learn that stone well.
 
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To be perfectly honest, I don't think this is a "newbie" versus "experienced honer" discussion. The OP expressed a lot of frustrations/issues raised by a lot of experienced guys. I know very talented honers who think that bevel setting through finishing on a coticule is pure nonsense. I also know that today, I honed 3 razors from the point that it wouldn't shave arm hair to finished in 30 minutes using nothing but Belgian natural stones (with an excellent resulting test shave)... It's more like the OP mentioned, knowing when to dilute the slurry, and more importantly having a good understanding of how these stones work, is critical to success. Unless someone does a lot of experimenting, a ton of reading with experimenting, or has a hands on tutor, it'd probably be extremely difficult to learn.

Easier doesn't equal better, but it really is nice to have successes early on. I don't think that I have a special talent for honing or anything, and in fact, I don't even have a steady hand... Today when I was honing, my brother was there and commented on how he noticed my natural tremor was a little worse than normal (I actually had to put everything down and just try to hold my hands still for a little bit). However, I've taken the time/initiative to learn it, and I love it. But, if it's not for you, that's great. I would just encourage guys to refrain from saying things aren't good (that others report excellent results with) because they didn't work well for them :001_smile
 
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