Belgian Coticule vs. 240 Grit Sandpaper (a two-part review)

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

cotedupy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
2,660
Reaction score
5,180
Location
South Australia & London
Coticule knife edges blow my mind.

Belgian Coticules are often regarded as 'razor stones', and I can't for the life of me fathom why. To hone a razor on a coticule you need to go through all sorts of fancy prcoesses of gradual slurry dilution as you round out the abrasive garnets within, finishing finally under clear running water to achieve a passable shave. The Dilucot Method they call it. Or... you just use the bloody thing for what they're clearly best for, which is sharpening knives. And that shouldn't really come as a surprise - of all the whetstones in the world Coticules probably have the single longest documented history of use. Even the Romans were using them, and they had significant success for quite some time on the back of having considerably sharper and pointier things than the opposition.

Because Coticule knife edges are insanely good; they have the bite and grip of a 1k synthetic stone, and then you do a sharpness test and realise it's rolling at 8k or more. Plus they're fast, and easy to use. Even a fool like me can get a fairly swish HHT on a toothy Coticule edge with little effort, and I've used this knife a bit since I sharpened it:




But if that weren't enough... Coticules come as NATURALLY OCCURING COMBINATION STONES!!! Combis are inherently cool already, but naturally occuring combis are properly next level - if Kate Moss was a sharpening stone she would be a natural Coticule x Belgian Blue Whetstone combi.

And the the other side is at least as good: Belgain Blue Whetstone was traditionaly regarded as the poor relation in the Belgian combi. But that's because, as I mentioned above, people inexplicably try to use them for razors rather than knives. BBW is a little coarser than the yellow Coticule and softer / muddier, and what does that mean...? It means that BBW is best non-Japanese bevel polishing stone I know, as well as being a great sharpening stone. Here's what a 2 min BBW polish looks like over a SG500:

IMG-5361.jpg


---

So yeah... Coticules are awesome. They're what every Japanese stone wants to be, but isn't. At half the price.

IMG-4709.jpg
 
Last edited:

cotedupy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
2,660
Reaction score
5,180
Location
South Australia & London
240 grit sandpaper kicks ***. It is happily the best sandpaper grit out there. I like 600 and 1200 quite a lot too, but 240 is better, and here's for why...

Recently I went to get out a knife that I knew needed sharpening, and was going to try out a newly acquired Coticule:

IMG-4527.jpg



Oh no! That's some pretty bad rust that Sab's picked up. A quick scrub down with some bicarb has got rid of the active rust, but it still ain't looking good. Whatever will I do? I'll certainly need more than just a Coticule for this job:

IMG-4529.JPG



But Ho! What's this? A single sheet of 240 GRIT SANDPAPER!!! About 2/3rds of it to remove the more significant rust/pitting on the blade:

IMG-4552.jpg



And the rest wrapped around a bit of wood as a 'whetstone'. Take that Coticule!

IMG-4553.jpg



BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE... because like a Coticule, my piece of 240 grit sandpaper is also REVERSIBLE, for stropping:

IMG-4554.jpg



So I think we can all agree: 240 grit sandpaper kicks ***

IMG-4556 (1).jpg
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
474
Reaction score
943
Location
Brooklyn, NY
Gotta try the sandpaper (which feels ironic given the amount I've poured into stones! 😂)

I bought this guy maybe 10 years ago when I was deep into the straight razor thing. Natural combo with BBW/"La Grise." Think I paid $260 back then and I believe they are harder to get from that vein nowadays 🤷‍♂️. You've inspired me! I imagine the coticule side might be too soft for knife work?

IMG_3684.jpeg
IMG_3683.jpeg
IMG_3685.jpeg
 
Last edited:

cotedupy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
2,660
Reaction score
5,180
Location
South Australia & London
I'd like to try out a coticule as well I think, I'll just have to wait until @cotedupy unloads some more stones I think :)

I do seem to come across them a fair bit so there might be something in the future!

Always worth keeping an eye out - because they were basically regarded as the best sharpening stones in the world for most of the last 2000 years there are probably hundreds of thousands of them out there. And they were exported all over the world - all three of mine above were very cheap ebay finds in Aus.

Plus they're quite easy to ID, and people used them with water, so you're not taking a risk on some oil-caked old stone that could be anything. Downside of course being that someone else might have noticed it before you!

Though it is less common to find proper knife-size stones like the ones above, as they were more normally cut for barbers.
 

cotedupy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
2,660
Reaction score
5,180
Location
South Australia & London
Gotta try the sandpaper (which feels ironic given the amount I've poured into stones! 😂)

I bought this guy maybe 10 years ago when I was deep into the straight razor thing. Natural combo with BBW/"La Grise." Think I paid $260 back then and I believe they are harder to get from that vein nowadays 🤷‍♂️. You've inspired me! I imagine the cuticle side might be too soft for knife work?

View attachment 166775 View attachment 166776 View attachment 166777

That's very nice, and a good, big size!

I've only had 8 or so coticules, so I'm not a massive expert like some of the people on the razor forums, but I'd have thought a softer one would be better for knives. Of the ones I've tried the only two I didn't much rate for knives was because they were too hard/fine/slow. I usually raise a bit of atoma mud (or use a slurry stone) when using them anyway.

The largest of my current three is probably the best, and also the softest (it's likely to be La Veinette - another very highly regarded layer I believe). It's the only coti I've had that needs no slurrying at all for knife sharpening. So yeah I imagine a soft-ish La Grise is going to be kickass :).

Obviously it can be a bit difficult to tell layers of old stones, but I'm pretty sure I've never had a LaG. The three above from L to R are probably:

La Petite Blanche - This is a great knife stone, and relatively coarse, it's also backed by a thick layer of Rouge du Salm / La Lorriane rather than BBW.

La Dressante - This is a less good for knives, quite hard and fine.

La Veinette - Awesome stone, and huge. Seriously quick but very fine. I'm pretty much certain of the layer on this as it's been confirmed by a few knowledgeable on B&B. As well as @Skylar303 whose coti collection probably puts him as our resident expert here (or at least one of them).

---

The other thing I should have mentioned, which you'll know, but others may not... One of the reasons that coticules cut well at such a fine level is that the abrasive is based on garnet, rather than silica/quartz like almost every other natural sharpening stone in the world. And garnet is harder than silica, so cuts faster and dulls/rounds slower. Ergo coticules are awesome.

It also means that coticule slurry stones are awesome, and are basically like turbo-charging any other natural stone. I have a few little coti / bbw slurry stones, as well as a jug of coticule slurry from when I've flattened them, just to pour onto other stones sometimes. So that's worth playing around with too, seeing as you've got a little 'nagura' there as well :).
 
Last edited:

Garm

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2017
Messages
284
Reaction score
273
Location
Norway
Very interesting reading! Thanks for sharing.
I've never really considered coticules, but this has really piqued my curiosity.
 

Geigs

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2018
Messages
283
Reaction score
409
Dude this makes me want a coticule, but we are competing in the same ebay. Wanna be my buyers agent!
 
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
474
Reaction score
943
Location
Brooklyn, NY
That's very nice, and a good, big size!

I've only had 8 or so coticules, so I'm not a massive expert like some of the people on the razor forums, but I'd have thought a softer one would be better for knives. Of the ones I've tried the only two I didn't much rate for knives was because they were too hard/fine/slow. I usually raise a bit of atoma mud (or use a slurry stone) when using them anyway.

The largest of my current three is probably the best, and also the softest (it's likely to be La Veinette - another very highly regarded layer I believe). It's the only coti I've had that needs no slurrying at all for knife sharpening. So yeah I imagine a soft-ish La Grise is going to be kickass :).

Obviously it can be a bit difficult to tell layers of old stones, but I'm pretty sure I've never had a LaG. The three above from L to R are probably:

La Petite Blanche - This is a great knife stone, and relatively coarse, it's also backed by a thick layer of Rouge du Salm / La Lorriane rather than BBW.

La Dressante - This is a less good for knives, quite hard and fine.

La Veinette - Awesome stone, and huge. Seriously quick but very fine. I'm pretty much certain of the layer on this as it's been confirmed by a few knowledgeable on B&B. As well as @Skylar303 whose coti collection probably puts him as our resident expert here (or at least one of them).

---

The other thing I should have mentioned, which you'll know, but others may not... One of the reasons that coticules cut well at such a fine level is that the abrasive is based on garnet, rather than silica/quartz like almost every other natural sharpening stone in the world. And garnet is harder than silica, so cuts faster and dulls/rounds slower. Ergo coticules are awesome.

It also means that coticule slurry stones are awesome, and are basically like turbo-charging any other natural stone. I have a few little coti / bbw slurry stones, as well as a jug of coticule slurry from when I've flattened them, just to pour onto other stones sometimes. So that's worth playing around with too, seeing as you've got a little 'nagura' there as well :).
What a ton of great info, thanks very much @cotedupy! I've heard very good things about La Veinette. I had a quick try with the BBW side last night - wow, nice edge indeed and the feedback is night and day. My other stones are mostly SG and I have a couple of JKI diamonds but the feel of the coti is amazing compared to those!

Thanks again. I'll be watching this thread with interest!
 
Last edited:

Sicknote

Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2022
Messages
15
Reaction score
14
Location
Germany
I got a natural combi corticule. But its not yellow. Its blue and the other side is green. For my taste its not that good for my kitchen knifes but for my straight razors its perfect. maybe i should try on Kitchen knifes again
 

cotedupy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
2,660
Reaction score
5,180
Location
South Australia & London
I got a natural combi corticule. But its not yellow. Its blue and the other side is green. For my taste its not that good for my kitchen knifes but for my straight razors its perfect. maybe i should try on Kitchen knifes again

Nice! There is a layer called 'La Verte' where the coticule side can be quite green I believe, so presumably that.

For knives I like to raise an atoma slurry to get them going. Though apparently this isn't recommended for razors as it breaks the garnets up, which presmuably makes them sharper. One of the reasons they're good for razors is the shape of the garnets, which means they cut well, but also polish and so don't leave a very toothy and aggressive edge. But on a knife you probably want that, so if you break them up a bit before then you get more teeth and bite.

That's the theory anyway, and it seems to work for me!

---

I should probably try again for razors tbh - I was being slightly facetious in my first post - I've only tried a couple of times on SRs. I know they're very good for them too :).
 
Last edited:

cotedupy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
2,660
Reaction score
5,180
Location
South Australia & London
The experience is just different, you more or less get to the same place. Bumpy vs silky smooth. Did i say smooth. I just like saying smooth🤓

That's interesting... I assume the one that's silky-smooth is LaV?

That would chime with my experience of my big one that's very likely LaV - it's the smoothest feeling coticule I've used. In fact it feels like it would be too silky and fine for a knife. And then you start and it kicks up loads of swarf immediately. It's a very quick stone but feels like sharpening on cream.

And if I might be allowed to do some smug showing-off... this is how big it is. 254 x 63 and 1201g. $20 Aus off ebay.

IMG-4233.JPG


IMG-4364.jpg



:)
 

cotedupy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
2,660
Reaction score
5,180
Location
South Australia & London
Can I substitute Kate Beckinsale for Kate Moss? I think it would help pull me into the intended mindset...

You may, but you will lose Cool Points... This is what Wikipedia has to say:

[Beckinsale] is a teetotaller, stating in 2003, "I've never been drunk even. I've never taken drugs. I've never had a one-night-stand."

I know which of the Kates I'm inviting to my party ;).
 

cotedupy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
2,660
Reaction score
5,180
Location
South Australia & London
I took the plunge and bought a package deal. Smaller stones, to get the feet wet. Coticule 150mmX40 with box, BBW/La Pyranees combo 150X40, coticule slurry stone, BBW slurry stone.

Top work. And a nice selection; I actually rather like smaller stones like this, and I don't find them any more difficult to use for knives. You can join @stringer in the small stone revolution!
 

JPO

Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2021
Messages
21
Reaction score
17
Location
Norway
That's interesting... I assume the one that's silky-smooth is LaV?

That would chime with my experience of my big one that's very likely LaV - it's the smoothest feeling coticule I've used. In fact it feels like it would be too silky and fine for a knife. And then you start and it kicks up loads of swarf immediately. It's a very quick stone but feels like sharpening on cream.

And if I might be allowed to do some smug showing-off... this is how big it is. 254 x 63 and 1201g. $20 Aus off ebay.

View attachment 167175

View attachment 167174


:)
Yes, the LV is the smooth stone:)
The yellow side of some Les Lat stones also show similar characteristics. When you get bored of this stone i will be happy to take it off your hands:)
 
Joined
Apr 22, 2021
Messages
124
Reaction score
264
Location
Belgium
I have this huge natural hybrid Les Latneuses...
To be honest it is very hard, very dense, and not so useful for kitchen knives. But maybe I should try harder.
Anyway this stone is so beautiful I won't let it go!
Coticule Hybride 5.jpg


Coticule Hybride 4.jpg

I have a small softer coticule 'nagura' that works well in combination with this stone
It works even better on my purple BBW, it gives keen edges fast.
 
Top