ALL ABOUT WOOD
The natural oils in cocobolo lumber prevent water absorption and its inherent hardness protects the wood from daily use making it an appropriate exotic wood species especially for kitchen utensils.
The Tree: Family: (Dalbergia retusa)
Dalbergia granadillo is also a form of cocobolo, a closely related cousin infact, typically from the more northern sections of Mexico. It tends to have less dramatic colouring and thus less likely to be seen on the cocobolo exotic wood markets. If purchasing cocobolo online be sure to ask about the exact species, if it is not noted one way or the other.
Cocobolo trees take many years to mature and in some areas like
Costa Rica harvesting cocobolo trees requires special permits. Thus
much of the wood on the market today comes from managed tree farms.
Natural forests have been largely exploited and these countries
are slowly adopting more sustainable practices. This will take many
years to rebuild inventory and in the meantime cocobolo will be
in relatively short supply.
Properties of Cocobolo Lumber:
With exposure to light the colour darken and develop a rich patina.
The sapwood is almost white and most often trimmed from export grade exotic wood. It can offer an interesting high contrast band on the right small turning, as with this wine bottle stopper.
It is difficult to find cocobolo veneer as the tree is rarely found large enough or of sufficient quality to make it feasible to send to a veneer mill. 8/4 cocobolo turning squares are the most common. Lumber suitable for small decorative wood lathe work.
As with many dense tropical woods cocobolo is quite resistant to
both natural decay and insects.
Weight: 68 lbs per cu.ft. dry weight
For the more patient woodworker hand rubbed wax finishes work quite
well in combination with the natural oils of cocobolo to achieve
a pretty wonderful effect. Its natural oils prevent water absorption
so hand rubbed finishes compliment the woods natural defense system.
It cuts surprisingly easy on a bandsaw. Cocobolo wood's extreme density can cause a router bit to hope along the edge so a final micro pass can improve your overall appearance. If predrilling and inserting screws on crossgrain boards, excessive torque can split the wood, as I find it a bit brittle. It turns beautifully.
It is recommended to use a waterproof glue such as titebond III to offer added holding capacity for such a tight grained wood. Freshly saw and joint JUST PRIOR to glue up to give the oils less time to migrate to the surface and affect adhesion.
Cocobolo wood can be sanded to a very fine sheen but quality automotive sandpaper is essential. The oils self lubricate the paper and in fact encourage the sawdust to cling to the wood, thus important to thoroughly clean the surface before lacquering.
As with many exotic woods, the dust produced in milling can be an irritant both to the skin and the lungs, so best to work with it in a small way to first determine your personal tolerance and always wear a dust mask. The beauty of exotic Cocobolo wood is worth all the extra fuss!