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View Full Version : Cocobollo : Good Idea?



sequoia
04-08-2016, 08:00 PM
I've got this really old block of cocobollo I picked up at a yard sale ($1.00 US) that I want to use as a peghead veneer. I want it to go with my black/white/red/blue design idea. Maybe this is not a good idea. See below how coco changes. Still, I love this wood.... Bad idea. Well yeah, but I can';t stop myself.

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chuck in ny
04-10-2016, 11:22 AM
you're meant to fall in love and be at the edge of madness and that's where a chunk of cocobolo will get you. i have never worked a piece of it in my life and only admired it from afar. i would be intimidated to make an instrument out of it having heard reports of solid coco cracking. then there's the gluing protocol. do some research on that. you should be fine using it as a heavy veneer.
woodworking will take you to unusual mental spots and you should take the journey if it comes up. my preferences for woods have changed through a long career. that's what's going on with the work being done in cherry, walnut, myrtle, &c., guys are seeing where the deal can go. it doesn't always have to be sally you know, it can also be sue. i would love to work some mesquite but am in the eastern US. fair enough. use whatever you can source or run into.

sequoia
04-10-2016, 06:42 PM
you're meant to fall in love and be at the edge of madness and that's where a chunk of cocobolo will get you. i have never worked a piece of it in my life and only admired it from afar.

Not sure I've gone mad yet, but I do love it... No, not making an entire uke out of the stuff (that might be madness), just a peghead veneer. Just roughed in today. Rough sanded in and de-oiled. The stuff is really strange and nasty to work with and... I can't help myself! A friend of mine said, "That stuff ain't nothin' but devils wood"... I'm trying to keep the sawdust contamination down to acceptable limits and yet it gets everywhere. I spend a lot of time cleaning up.

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chuck in ny
04-11-2016, 02:57 PM
i was talking to a doctor a quarter century back who related a tale about a client who came in with an allergic reaction iirc he had bloated up and turned a color. he gave the guy the usual protocol and the guy died the same day. turned out the fellow had been working a rare tropical hardwood. there's some unusual chemistry to some of the species. the normal stuff in our shop, temperate climate hard and soft wood, we have that in our faces day after day with not much ill effect. the only wood that has ever given me a reaction is cedar, it tends to powder very fine and can clog your lungs and cause breathing problems what with its pungent resinous nature. only happened to me once. you can make too much of skill or ability because half of life is luck, in business, in toxic substances, in anything.

jcalkin
04-11-2016, 03:53 PM
At H&D we've made dozens of cocobolo guitars with no problems. No special gluing protocol. No cracking. No wiping the wood with solvents to make a finish stick. But it makes a very heavy guitar, which seems to make no sonic difference. But just the fumes from bending the sides bothers one of the guys for a week, and sanding the wood is out of the question for him. I try to be careful, and it hasn't hurt me yet. I love the smell, and it bends like a dream. Great wood, can be unmatched it beauty.

sequoia
04-11-2016, 04:49 PM
and it bends like a dream. Great wood, can be unmatched it beauty.

Yes, pretty stuff and it bends easier than any wood I've ever worked with. Polite and it goes limp after a little heat persuasion and just surrenders. Bend me! Almost like plastic. Must have something to do with all that oil... As far as allergic reactions, I have had no problems... yet. But you see, allergic reactions don't happen on initial exposures. The initial period is called "sensitization". After repeated exposure, the immune system then kicks in after a period of time and you start to get problems. The key to not getting sensitized to it and limit your initial exposures. I found the following quote on the web which seems to sum it up:

"There are two types of wood turners, those who are allergic to Cocobolo, and those who will be!"

Nickie
04-11-2016, 07:33 PM
sequoia,
I have a whole ukulele (Cocobolo Ukulele) made entirely of cocobolo, except for the neck, which is hog. I am very happy, in fact, ecstatic with it. Sure, it's a little heavy, but the tone, the smell, and the sustain, oh wow!
Absolutely everyone that sees it wants to play it.
Go for it!

jcalkin
04-12-2016, 03:34 PM
[QUOTE=sequoia;1837354]Yes, pretty stuff and it bends easier than any wood I've ever worked with. Polite and it goes limp after a little heat persuasion and just surrenders. Bend me! Almost like plastic. Must have something to do with all that oil... As far as allergic reactions, I have had no problems... yet. But you see, allergic reactions don't happen on initial exposures. The initial period is called "sensitization". After repeated exposure, the immune system then kicks in after a period of time and you start to get problems. The key to not getting sensitized to it and limit your initial exposures. I found the following quote on the web which seems to sum it up:

"There are two types of wood turners, those who are allergic to Cocobolo, and those who will be!"[/QUOTE

The very first time I worked with cocobolo I tried to hand sand a rough board into a banjo fretboard. After 10 minutes I went home with a terrible headache that lasted the rest of the day. No sensitizing necessary. That was over 30 years ago. A dust mask would have helped, but who knew?