Preping Cocobolo Fact or Myth?

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Forum topic by Woodstock posted 09-17-2012 07:28 PM 1541 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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253 posts in 3281 days

09-17-2012 07:28 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finish gluing question cocobolo

I’ve got a project that requires me to glue inserts of hard maple onto the end grain face of a block of cocobolo. I’m using Tightbond II.

In researching “gluing and finishing of cocobolo” I have seen others suggest because of the high oil content, to wipe down the surface to be glued and/or finished with acetone till there is no color left on the paper towel after wiping. This in theory indicating that one has stripped off the surface oils (for the moment till they wick back up from inside), and this will allow the glue and/or finish to grip better on the surface.

Well, here in “the real world” I just spent 30 minutes wiping down a piece to be glued. After 12 sheets of paper towels I am still seeing lots of color being left on the towels. I know I take things to extremes at times, but what is realistically acceptable, figuring in the “law of diminishing returns”?

Also I was thinking of spraying several light coats each of thinned sanding sealer (Bulls eye) and pre-cat lacquer. It’s a kids toy so I expect I’ll need a “as bullet-proof” finish as I can get.

Any other suggestions?


-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

6 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile


2870 posts in 2507 days

#1 posted 09-17-2012 07:32 PM

I use cocobolo in my guitars sometimes. I wipe it down thoroughly with lacquer thinner and a terry towel once, let it dry, glue it up. I use Titebond III. I got one guitar on the wall that never sold, been played by lots of people, displayed in a county fair, never had any problems with the glue-up.
Now if you have wax on the end from keeping the end grain from splitting, that is different.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4926 posts in 3953 days

#2 posted 09-17-2012 07:34 PM

The Seal Coat should work.


View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2354 days

#3 posted 09-18-2012 12:42 AM

I recently glued two blocks of cocobolo together without any kind of washdown or other prep, using Titebond II, with no problem whatsoever. I also made a solid cocobolo tabletop, finished with just acrylic lacquer (no “sealer”), following a quick wipe with acetone, in 1984, and the finish is still perfect.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3301 days

#4 posted 09-18-2012 05:13 AM

I have used quite a bit of cocobolo over the years and have never had it come unglued. I always wipe it down with acetone and have used both epoxy glue and titebond 3. You should not have a problem especially by taking the extra step of wiping it down with acetone.

View Woodstock's profile


253 posts in 3281 days

#5 posted 09-19-2012 08:54 PM

Thank you for everyone who replied.

I did glue things up (making two identical sets) and turned them on my Oneway lathe with no glue delamination.

Even after I gouged the ^%#@# out of one piece, when my el-cheapo 3 gal airless compressor cycled on and scared the “you know what” out of me while turning. I shoved the gouge right into the piece perpendicular across one of the glue lines while trying to turn the outside of a hollow sphere. Oh well. So I got a 50% yield. One for me and one sacrificed on the rotating alter to the turning gods…

The one on the left shows the gouge into the glue line on the right hand side. Right into the hard maple. And it held together when unexpectedly abused. It’s sister came out perfect after turning by using a wood rasp and sanding to 800 grit to get rid of the resulting sharp edges and shaping it completely spherical.

Now off to get sprayed.


-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

View Woodstock's profile


253 posts in 3281 days

#6 posted 09-20-2012 08:44 PM

Blasted thumbnail images…Here is a better sized image.

-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

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