Getting the straight razor sharp

I have until recently honed my razor knives with a Japanese “King 250/1000” and a “Norton 4000/8000.” Each hone are actually two pieces of stone with two different grits, glued together.

The King stone, I use only on the blades that I’ve restored, so I have to set a new edge. I use 1000-grit side to do this. The 250-grit side I do not use on the straight razors. It is far too coarse for it, but is good to put edges on regular knives (and removing notches from straight razor edges that are damaged). On a old dull straight razor that is not damaged, I start with 1000-grit to make the edge. Then I go over to the Norton stone to sharpen it. If the straight is not very dull, but only needs regular maintenance, I start on the 4000 side of the Norton stone.

Until now I have been getting reasonably sharp blades this way. My “secret ninja trick” has been to take three to five super light rounds on a diamond hone at the end.

But now I’ve started a new “era”: We are talking “before and after Coticoule!”
I recently bought a Belgian stone called “Ardennes Coticule,” or simply “Coticule.” This is a type of rock that occurs in only one area (Ardennes) in Belgium. This stone has for centuries been known to give a especially sharp but “soft” edge. The Romans used these stones, and in the very first book about shaving (“Let Pognotomie” from 1770) J.J. Perret devoted a chapter to this stone – and now I understand why! It is a very special experience to polish up a razor sharp blade on these natural stones. I understand now why there is a “Coticule cult” out there. I started with a small stone (4×10 cm) that i  purchased on but I have now purchased a larger one 🙂

This picture shows my “set up” for sharpening. The large stone in the middle is the Norton stone with the 4000grit side up. This is a “waterstone”, and it must be in the water at least 15 minutes before use. This ensures that all pores and voids are filled, and the stone becomes more compact and smooth. I use a Japanese “Nagura stone” to make “slurry” on it.  And finally finishing on the 8000-side of the stone.

You can actually sharpen a blade using only the Coticule. I use a smaller piece of the same stone as slurry stone on the Coticule.The slurry consists of particles from the slurry stone and the hone. In a Coticoule stone there are microscopic crystals that gets released from the stone when you rub the two stones together. It is these crystals that cuts in to the metal, and performs the actual sharpening of the blade (the crystals are harder than metal). If the slurry is thick, it cuts more metal from the blade. If the slurry is watered down it removes less metal. This way, you can both sharpen and polish the blade on the same stone.

I now rarely use the King and Norton stones. As my technique got better, I am now able to get a dull blade shave ready by only using the one Coticule. Starting with a really thick slurry, and gradually diluting it, until there is only water on the stone.



2 Thoughts on “Getting the straight razor sharp

  1. You have shared here some informative resources, that i loved. thanks

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