Right. So in a previous entry, Jesse explained why the typical hone fetishist drives people away from using straight razors, rather than attract them. Today, I came across this wonderful little thread here: My new Escher is here... What undoubtedly was an innocuous joke now respresents everything that is bad about shaving forums and self proclaimed honemeisters.
- As we recently learned, real men hone to the nth degree. Rationale Allegedly because every razor is different, and hones even more so, so there's no one hone that fits every razor. If so, how come several real men with very, very large e-pen0rs go crazy like your sister when they see the word Escher?
- Also, natural hones are finicky, inconsistent, and mostly not apt for honing razors. Or so the men honing for money say. Which is why Coticules are bad. And, incidentally, Eschers are great. Because Eschers... have a brand name? Yet still, they are natural hones. The logic is baffling.
- Of course, there are good and bad Coticules. One famous failure at selling these hones is all too eager to point out the "many" bad ones. There are, for example, so called kosher Coticules. And they are good, or so some people want to make you believe. In fact, they are just Coticules. Well, not quite. They have no visible cracks, and cut extremely fast, because they are meant to be used to sharpen butcher knives, and not razors.
- Another good type of Coticule are so called "vintage" Coticules. They are good because they not only have a brand name like Eschers, but also because they are older than new Coticules and have really cool "marketing" stamps like "Fine" or "Extra Fine". New ones are "not as good" because they do not have brand names, and are exactly as old, but were mined only recently. Given the lifespan of a piece of rock, I doubt that a hundred years - give or take - will make much of a difference.
- But yes, there are bad Coticules, too. Bad Coticules are those bought by people who should, by rights, have bought Naniwas. To make the vendors of these hones happy. Because they are very, very expensive - and we all know that real man need expensive toys to compensate for small body parts. Funnily enough, the much maligned Belgian Blue Whetstone might well be the only stone a beginner will ever need.
So what exactly does this thread leave us with? A few things worth mentioning, really. One, never listen to what anyone with more than 10 hones will tell you. If you are a user, rather than a fetishist, that is. The advice you will get is more likely than not tainted with compulsory obessions, and there really should not be any room for that in your life. Two, €50 will do. No amount of gear will turn you into a good razor sharpener, none. If in doubt, grab a Belgian Blue Whetstone, read this report (aka usage instructions), and hone away. If you discover that you do not like the hone or the approach, you will not have lost a lot of money. Last, avoid self proclaimed honemeisters like the plague. The term was coined as a benign joke, and one should hfave left it at that. Today, it is a rather good indication that you are about to either be ripped off, bullied, or get ridiculed. And that is not what I consider "spreading the love of the hobby".