Finishing cocobolo.......HELP!!!

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Forum topic by RKW posted 04-24-2010 02:42 PM 3767 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View RKW's profile


328 posts in 3411 days

04-24-2010 02:42 PM

I recenly posted a gavel that i turned from mahogany and maple that i made for my wife. She liked the results and wanted me to make a few more to be raffled off as part of a fundraiser for a law school club that she is in. I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to experiment with some exotics.

The first one i made is from bloodwood with an ebony stripe. This turned out nice and took finish well. (2 coats tung oil, 2 coats gloss spray polly from aerosal can, paste wax applied with 0000 steel whool)

Next gavel is solid cocobolo and due to the natural oils, the above mentioned process will not adhere to the wood. (i know this because i tried) I have read that cleaning with acetone is a good idea before applying finish. Ive also read that even if you clean with acetone you should not use any type of poly finish.

I need some suggestions here. I have not used any products other than tung oil and poly so if you do have a suggestion please be specific in the process. Please include product brands. There are so many products on the market it gets confusing and the labels and not very helpful.

Thanks all Randy

-- RKWoods

9 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3038 days

#1 posted 04-24-2010 02:57 PM

I’ve had pretty good luck with wipe-on poly on cocobolo. On some cocobolo items I have gone straight to the buffer without any finish. That natural oiliness is all it needs.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View RKW's profile


328 posts in 3411 days

#2 posted 04-24-2010 03:09 PM

So you think a good coat of paste wax will be sufficient? For a gavel?....I really dont expect this gavel to end up being used in a court room. It will probably end up on a display shelf.

-- RKWoods

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3505 days

#3 posted 04-24-2010 08:24 PM

One thing you can do is seal it with two coats of dewaxed shellac and then use the poly. Just the wax will work but it will need to be reapplied over time.

-- Childress Woodworks

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 4133 days

#4 posted 04-24-2010 08:26 PM

I agree with shellac. It’s the jack of all trades. It’ll stick to anything and anything will stick to it.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3137 days

#5 posted 04-24-2010 08:35 PM

Here’s a great article, if interested:


-- -- Neil

View RKW's profile


328 posts in 3411 days

#6 posted 04-24-2010 10:56 PM

thanks guys, im going to try the shellac.

-- RKWoods

View lcurrent's profile


125 posts in 3779 days

#7 posted 04-29-2010 02:40 AM

I have used Cocobolo on knife handles .
There is a product called Fixit sold at hobby shops it is in a spray can spray it on let dry for about 10 min. and buff off with a loose buffing wheel nice finish ///

-- lcurrent ( It's not a mistake till you run out of wood )

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3014 days

#8 posted 05-01-2010 06:27 AM


Try ca glue applied as it turns on the lathe. Works fine.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View michelletwo's profile


2727 posts in 2979 days

#9 posted 05-01-2010 01:28 PM

Cocobolo has natural oils. It has been used without any finish for centuries. I’d get it to a glass finish, and then wax if I felt I had to do something. Otherwise I’d leave it. The natural oils will keep it looking great, if the person keeps it clean.

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