Belgian Blue Whetstone

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cotedupy

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I posted a little while ago about coticules, but I think BBW deserves its own PSA thread. Because if anything... it’s even better.

Belgian Blue Whetstone might as well have been custom made for Japanese kitchen knives. It rolls around the mid 1000s, but works quicker than other comparable stones, cos garnets are well 'ard. It's soft enough to be easy to use, but not so soft as to make it tricky, or risk digging. Will work well with or without slurry, and even in fact - dry. Giving edges that are pitch perfect for knives; just a gorgeous combination of bite and finesse.






It already holds it's own with the best natural sharpening stones in the world, but here's the kicker: Belgian Blue Whetstone will bevel and kasumi polish in a way that puts many (most?) jnats to shame. While I'm aright at sharpening stuff, I'm a long way from being a polishing whiz, but even a novice like me can get here after just a couple of minutes on BBW:






That's not a special or unusual example either - all Belgian Blue does this. Plus it's easily available, and one of the cheapest natural stones out there. I'm amazed people don't talk about it more here. Who else is in the club...?
 

Martyn

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I have 4 BBWs (three standalone BBWs and a coticule/BBW combo). And yeah they are pretty great and very consistent and easy to use. and the feedback is pretty smooth as well.
 

cotedupy

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Hey, are you talking about these: knife length blade 23 - 25 cm | Ardennes-Coticule

Would you recommend them to someone who has no experience with natural stones at all? I've been scared to jump down that hole... Anything special to take into account with these stones?


Yep those are the ones!

And also yes - they're incredibly easy to use, while also being among the very, very best natural stones around. If it were rarer people would be paying a lot of money for BBW I imagine.
 

Benuser

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I use them a lot for reviving an edge. A few edge leading strokes, and a few longitudinal ones for deburring. Grit is about 4k. Once a year I use the Atoma against glazing. The garnets take the burr without creating a new one. For sharpening kitchen knives the result may lack bite, for deburring only it is great. Works well with saliva.
 

deltaplex

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I'll second using saliva on them works really well. I think there's a ton of variation within the different layers, but the ones I've used are the ones I can get the best results on out of all of my stones, and I don't need to spend all that much time on them.
 

cotedupy

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I use them a lot for reviving an edge. A few edge leading strokes, and a few longitudinal ones for deburring. Grit is about 4k. Once a year I use the Atoma against glazing. The garnets take the burr without creating a new one. For sharpening kitchen knives the result may lack bite, for deburring only it is great. Works well with saliva.


This is a good point to note... I tend to use BBW with slurry raised either from a diamond plate or something else. Very aggressive edges that way, and bevel polishes well. Used without slurry they're going to cut and work slightly differently.
 

cotedupy

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I'll second using saliva on them works really well. I think there's a ton of variation within the different layers, but the ones I've used are the ones I can get the best results on out of all of my stones, and I don't need to spend all that much time on them.


Ah good to hear another fan! Genuinely out of all the various types of natural stones I have (don't ask) - BBW along with Washitas and Turkish are my favourites and most used for knives.
 

cotedupy

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As Belgian Blue is a by-product of the rare Coticule mining it comes it huge quantities which makes it very affordable, at least here Europe.


I may be wrong about this, but from what I've been told/understand: By far and away the main business of AC is quarrying clay for brickmaking. Which presumably massively subsidises both yellow and blue coticules... (?)
 

Rainman890

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Thanks for all the help! Stupid question - what's the difference between the Coticule and the BBW? And all the different shapes? So many choices! Is there a good thread on this stuff, or can you just tell me which one to buy and start using? :)
 

deltaplex

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A very simplified answer: Cotis are cream colored (top) and BBWs are blueish/purpleish colored (bottom) stones cut from the same layers of rock. BBWs are (generally) quicker and less fine and Cotis are (again, generally) slower and more fine. They often (but not always) come naturally bonded together as the Coti layer is fragile and the BBW layer helps to stabilize it:

PXL_20220329_185246807[1].jpg
 

deltaplex

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You can spend time trolling auction sites for vintage stones, but you can buy direct from Ardennes Coticule if you want to get one quickly to test it out.
 

Rainman890

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Yeah, strongly thinking about it, but not sure I have the time to get into natural stones... I might bite the bullet and do it anyways though...
 
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A short while ago I bought a set off eBay that contained a Coticule (150x40), BBW/La Pyranees combo (150x40), coticule and BBW slurry stones. I keep the Coticule and BBW combo stones in my knife drawer and they are great for touch-ups. I splash with water over the sink and use them in my hand and do some light edge trailing strokes followed by even lighter edge leading strokes.
I haven't tried them for polishing yet. Some day...
I found the set for around $160 which I thought was a good deal for 3 stones, 2 slurry stones and box.
 

Grayswandir

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I posted a little while ago about coticules, but I think BBW deserves its own PSA thread. Because if anything... it’s even better.

Belgian Blue Whetstone might as well have been custom made for Japanese kitchen knives. It rolls around the mid 1000s, but works quicker than other comparable stones, cos garnets are well 'ard. It's soft enough to be easy to use, but not so soft as to make it tricky, or risk digging. Will work well with or without slurry, and even in fact - dry. Giving edges that are pitch perfect for knives; just a gorgeous combination of bite and finesse.






It already holds it's own with the best natural sharpening stones in the world, but here's the kicker: Belgian Blue Whetstone will bevel and kasumi polish in a way that puts many (most?) jnats to shame. While I'm aright at sharpening stuff, I'm a long way from being a polishing whiz, but even a novice like me can get here after just a couple of minutes on BBW:






That's not a special or unusual example either - all Belgian Blue does this. Plus it's easily available, and one of the cheapest natural stones out there. I'm amazed people don't talk about it more here. Who else is in the club...?

Wow cotedupy, very nice looking polish job, better then a lot I've seen to be honest.
 

sansho

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Hey, are you talking about these: knife length blade 23 - 25 cm | Ardennes-Coticule

Would you recommend them to someone who has no experience with natural stones at all? I've been scared to jump down that hole... Anything special to take into account with these stones?

i'm in the same boat. never used a natural stone but have always been curious to. this seems like a decent place to start.

i wonder where to buy as a US online shopper? the site linked above?
 
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Anyone have the experience with the one sold by sharpening supplies? I'm looking for a nice polishing stone and BBW seems to be the sweet spot.
 

musicman980

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Thanks for all the help! Stupid question - what's the difference between the Coticule and the BBW? And all the different shapes? So many choices! Is there a good thread on this stuff, or can you just tell me which one to buy and start using? :)
Coticules most often have a larger quantity of smaller sized garnets than the BBW, making the coticule both faster and finer. This is why it’s so prized compared to the BBW.
 

Benuser

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Anyone have the experience with the one sold by sharpening supplies? I'm looking for a nice polishing stone and BBW seems to be the sweet spot.
You should be well aware of the kind of polish a BB offers: it isn't the bright — some will call it aggressive — shining a synthetic stone offers.
 
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I am quite a fan of belgium stones for sharpening. Almost all my sharpenings are finished on a yellow coticule. Belgium Blue is maybe my second choice here but it is just a little bit coarser and a little bit softer, I think it is a matter of preference.
Polishing with coticule is not something I do : finish out of it is quite harsh. Meaning you will get a nice kasumi (strong contrast) and some details in the clad. But the iron and the steel will have a scratch pattern showing off versus some Jnats will give you a smoother finish, scratch pattern will be finer or almost scratch free look. But cotedupuy made me curious, so I just tried again on that test knife.
Here are few pictures I just did. First 2 are a finish with belgium blue. Second 2 are finish with belgium yellow (so you can see that you will get a little bit more refine but not like super refine finish using the yellow). Last 2 are maruoyama shiro suita (jnat) I just used after the yellow. It would need more time to get a very nice and even finish but you can already see the jnat is starting to make a smoother finish
Belgium blue (1).jpg
Belgium blue (2).jpg
Belgium yellow (1).jpg
Belgium yellow (2).jpg
Maruo 1.jpg
Maruo 2.jpg
 

Rainman890

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@milangravier - How do the edges differ? Or are they more or less similar, and the different finishes are more for the visual aspects?

(sorry, complete newbie, trying to understand...)
 
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Yeah, sorry if the pictures don't give enough info. True you can look at all parts of the bevel because bottom left corner is giving a view of the scratch pattern more obviously. If you look from far, any kasumi finish will look nice and contrasty. Comparing the finish and the scratch pattern close up, you can see differences and I hope the pictures can show you that.
Blue belgium is the coarsest no question about that. Scratch pattern for me is around 2k or 3k maybe. It is nice. It will look comparable to a natsuya maybe.
Yellow coticule is a little bit more refine but finish is like maybe 4k/5k not above (those stones are used by razors guy normally and they should go far higher in grit, I think that depend of the way you use it, mud dilution etc).
Maruoyama is maybe a 6k, but it's just completly different way to abrade iron and steel. Coticule really show the scratch pattern versus the Maruoyama will hide it. On iron, you will have a scratch pattern, but on steel if you work enough time you can have a bright hazy scratchless look finish.
 
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