Problem with finish on Cocobolo wood

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Forum topic by BobD posted 12-29-2010 09:34 AM 4428 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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52 posts in 3610 days

12-29-2010 09:34 AM

I made a band saw box out of Cocobolo, a hardwood from Mexico, and applied 3 coats of Minwax spray Urethane. After 6 days, the finish is still tacky to the touch. I have moved the box inside where it is warmer, had heat lamps on it to help it dry and even moved it outside to get some fresh air. The finish will not dry. Is this due to the Cocobolo wood or what? I have made pens out of Cocobolo and the finish is dry and beautiful. How can I make the finish dry or what are my alternatives. Suggestions welcome.

-- Bob, San Diego

8 replies so far

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2978 days

#1 posted 12-29-2010 03:55 PM

I made one of my boys a Cocoblo box by request some time back..same story.. stripped the finish off, dried it, wiped with minieral spirits then when that was dry recoated..worked fine. Cocobolo has a lot of natural oils in it so a wipe first is a good idea..

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View Seer's profile


306 posts in 3840 days

#2 posted 12-29-2010 03:58 PM

Agreed wipe it down with mineral spirits or DNA om pens I make if I don’t wipe it down the finish is very cloudy.


View Ben's profile


30 posts in 3090 days

#3 posted 12-29-2010 04:24 PM

I have seen a few posts about issues with Cocobolo and poly finish. I think some people were saying that the wood has natural oils in it that make for tough finishing. I have made a few wine bottle balancers from it and I have not been able to achieve a very good finish. My last attempt I just wiped on a thin coat of Arm-R-Seal and then wiped it off after a few minutes. It wasn’t terrible, but it still was slightly tacky after a few days. Are you finishing your pens on the lathe? Maybe that has something to due with why they are turning out different.

-- Ben in Houston

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3272 days

#4 posted 12-29-2010 04:52 PM

When I make an item out of cocobolo, I don’t put any real finish on them. I just take them directly to my buffer and buff a great looking finish. My only “finish” is the wax from the buffer.

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

View bobdurnell's profile


315 posts in 4094 days

#5 posted 12-29-2010 06:08 PM

BobD—My experience with cocobolo since it is one of the rosewoods is that 34 years ago I made some little boxes and used an oil based finish and it would not dry so I asked one of the professors at Cal State Long Beach Ca. (used to be a great woodworking institution) and was told that a lacquer based product would work and it did. Since you are from San Diego I woud go out and buy some Deft Clear Wood Finish and lacquer thinner before the CAQC curtails the sale of all lacquer products like in my county of Orange, or Riverside, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, just to name a few. I drive to Solana Beach to by mine I think the place is called Dixeline? About 80 miles from my house! I hope this info helps. My name is the same Good luck Bob D

-- bobdurnell, Santa Ana California.

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3739 days

#6 posted 12-29-2010 06:15 PM

I would first clean the wood and then wipe down with denatured alcohol (not mineral spirits), then put on two coats of dewaxed shellac. From that point on, you can put whatever top coat you want.

Rich also has a good idea of just polishing the wood as does bob. There are several ways to approach this, now you know not to start with the oil base on top of an oily wood. I’ve been there and done it and never did fix it thinking it would dry eventually. Still looks bad!

-- Childress Woodworks

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3739 days

#7 posted 12-29-2010 06:22 PM

Bobdurnell, going down to Solana Beach, you ever stop by David Allen (used to be where cut & dried hardwoods was)? They have incredible slabs there. a must see for any woodworker…





-- Childress Woodworks

View OldWrangler's profile


731 posts in 1792 days

#8 posted 06-29-2015 06:40 AM

I sand down with 1000 grit and then wax with 3-4 coats of neutral shoe polish. Makes a good shine and durable finish

-- I am going to go stand outside so if anyone asks about me, tell them I'M OUTSTANDING!

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