What wood goes well with Cocobolo?

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Forum topic by Jim posted 09-13-2010 04:13 PM 4220 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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253 posts in 3641 days

09-13-2010 04:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question cocobolo

I’m making a hall table and have decided on Cocobolo for the top. I’m struggling to decide on a good complimentary wood for the rest of the table. Sooo my question for fellow LJ’s is, what wood goes well with Cocobolo if I prefer not to stain, leaving the wood the natural colour. Nothing really exotic because I don’t want to have to mortgage my home to build the project.

-- Jim in Langley BC Canada ---

20 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3071 days

#1 posted 09-13-2010 04:19 PM

I’ve used both maple and cherry with cocobolo and I like the cherry better. I think the maple creates too much contrast and I think the cherry really compliments the cocobolo.

Be advised that the cherry will darken with age so what you see today is not what you will see 10 years from now, but I still think it is a good choice.

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

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4215 days

#2 posted 09-13-2010 05:39 PM

I agree with Rich on cherry. Mahogany is a nice, subtle contrast as well.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 3988 days

#3 posted 09-13-2010 06:14 PM

I had a friend that made a beautiful coffee table from Cocobolo and Figured Maple. He used (i think) two different aniline dyes on the maple to really make that grain pop as well as darken it a bit. It’s a very modern looking piece that is really the centerpiece of his room.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Jim's profile


253 posts in 3641 days

#4 posted 09-13-2010 06:19 PM

I’ve only used Cherry once for furniture and had a problem with it darkening at an uneven pace. The side facing the window became quite dark very fast, while the side facing inside was the original light colour. I kept relocating the piece so it would darken more evenly. This was enhanced because at certain times of the day, it was exposed to direct sunlight. The hall table will not be in direct sunlight so that’s a consideration. I hadn’t considered mahogany, the contrast would be very subtle. Maple sounds interesting and would be quite a stark contrast.

-- Jim in Langley BC Canada ---

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3267 days

#5 posted 09-13-2010 06:52 PM

Any woods in the genus dalbergia (rosewoods) are good combined with cocobolo – itself being in the same genus.

I use walnut or maple for contrasting woods.

African or Philippine Mahogony can seem flat when supplementing cocobolo – mostly due to the tight grains of the mahogany.

One of my favorite pieces is a table with a cocobolo top and a redwood frame. the Redwood – with the light sapwood – really woke up the colors in the cocobolo in that piece…without any dyes or stains…just some sealer and poly.

It really depends on what you want the wood to supplement….cocobolo has so many colors in its palette (it has reds, greens, blues….a real rainbow) that it really can go well with lots of different woods…Ive seen it with macassar ebony (spectacular), gaboon ebony, wenge, blackwood, amboyna….etc…etc…all of them can be combined beautifully.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2922 days

#6 posted 09-13-2010 08:38 PM

I like the visual idea of figured maple…

Let us know how it turns out Jim!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3071 days

#7 posted 09-13-2010 09:58 PM

Let me offer some unsolicited (and perhaps unwanted) advise. When you put 2 woods together in a single piece, one has to be the star and one has to play a subordinate role. If you have 2 stars, they compete for attention.

Cocobolo is a natural star. I would want the other wood to settle into a subordinate role. In my opinion, I would not use a fantastic quilted maple or any other wood that would really draw your attention.

If you concerned about cherry fading unevenly, there are some other soft red or soft brown options. Bloodwood would work but would cost more than cherry (bloodwood might be a little too red for your taste). Mahogany was mentioned and it would be a good brownish option. Plain bubinga would work if you found some that did not have to much grain action. It’s a darker red than bloodwood, more like a burgundy. I normally think of ipé as an outdoor wood, but it is a nice light brown with a tight grain that does not jump out at you. It’s somewhat like mahogany but harder, heavier and a little lighter in color.

Good luck.

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

View Timberwerks's profile


360 posts in 3158 days

#8 posted 09-13-2010 10:50 PM

I would go with ebonized ash or maple. The contrast of the black against the colors of the cocobolo would work well.


View MOJOE's profile


548 posts in 3265 days

#9 posted 09-15-2010 04:21 AM

I have always been a fan of figured maple…..really like the contrast with darker woods. For less contrast, white oak might look nice as well.

-- Measuring twice and cutting once only works if you read the tape correctly!

View MOJOE's profile


548 posts in 3265 days

#10 posted 09-16-2010 04:38 AM

Was looking through some project pix yesterday, and saw one made from Hickory…....not quite as light as maple, but not too dark either…..this would probably work nicely as well.

-- Measuring twice and cutting once only works if you read the tape correctly!

View terrilynne's profile


836 posts in 2890 days

#11 posted 09-18-2010 08:13 PM


-- Terri, Rocky Mountain High Colorado!

View Rileysdad's profile


110 posts in 3275 days

#12 posted 09-18-2010 08:49 PM

More Cocobolo!

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist that.

-- Measure twice, cut once, buy extra stock.

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3047 days

#13 posted 09-22-2010 08:17 PM

Walnut, if you want to go darker, or wenge (although the cost would be more) if you want to go even darker and really complement the darker grain lines of the cocobolo. Mahogany, if you want to go lighter without it contrasting like maple would do.

I’m not sure if you’d be opposed to using 3-species?

Cocobolo for the top, then a lighter wood (but not too light) for the apron/middle section such as ash, followed by either a darker wood than cocobolo, such as walnut, or a lighter wood than cocobolo, like mahogany?

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View BreakingBoardom's profile


615 posts in 3078 days

#14 posted 09-22-2010 09:34 PM

Alder is fairly cheap around here and is a lighter brown like cherry but as far as I know doesn’t darken like cherry. Might be an option.

-- Matt -

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3645 days

#15 posted 09-22-2010 09:38 PM

marshmallowbolo and cocobolo goes well together as well :)

ok, or mahogany (cherry will do well too, but you’d want to tan the cherry to bring it to it’s darker redder shades)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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