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I just bought a piece of Cocobolo on ebay for a fretboard mainly cuz it looks cool. Anyways, I pulled the board out to look at it and since my index finger on my right hand has had a slight burning feeling. Obviously a reaction to the wood. Although nowhere else am I having this reaction. For my question, will the likeliness of a reaction go away when I have the fretboard on a guitar, ie will it still be toxic if I dont finish the wood or if I put some lemon oil on the fretboard as I generally do for all of my guitars. If not is there a way other then a hard finish to remove the likelyhood of having a reaction other then just not using the piece at all.

MzI

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Edited by MzI
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Some people are sensitive to the wood dust (well, OK, quite a number of people; like Pau Ferro, it's a now irritant/allergen/sensitiser), but very, very, very few people have problems with completely dust-free, polished up wood that I've heard of. Even the folks that can't work with Coco or Pau Ferro can play cocobolo/pau ferro fingerboards without trouble. If you're one of the unlucky few that can't even deal with skin contact on a dust-free board, you're best off going for a different wood. If it's still in raw form, work it with gloves, full body dust protection, respirator (duh), and take a small piece, finish it up 'to spec' as you would a fingerboard (with all the safety precautions), and then handle it a bit, see if it does anything. Carry it around.

A hard finish, for a Cocobolo fingerboard, will look and feel very wrong, and many oils won't harden properly on a wood that oily. Best thing to do is a short 'test run' to see whether you react to it badly. I don't know if I do, yet, but I can handle large boards of the stuff in the rough, no problems.

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if you're not in a huge hurry i'd try two things. leave the board alone for a couple of days and then pick it up again and rub your hands all over it. if the burning returns or any of your fingers actually fall off then you do indeed have a reaction to it. next, if the board you bought is longer than you need for a neck cut off an inch or so and put a coat or two of whatever you have decided to use on it. let it set for a day or so and try again. if it still bothers you i'd be willing to take it off of your hands. :D

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First you should make sure that your reaction really was from picking up the cocobolo, since that is a pretty minor exposure . However, if that really is the problem, you are very sensitive to the cocobolo and you should immediately forget any idea of using it. You don't want to cut or sand it, or you could have a very severe reaction. Even with a respirator, the exposure to your skin could be a big problem. Putting something like lemon oil on the finished board won't solve the problem. While it might be possible to seal the board up with something like lacquer, it would be a pretty unusual finish. Bottom line is that it just isn't worth risking your health for a fretboard. There are plenty of other choices out there that won't have the same consequences for you. Check out the pinned topic on wood toxicity.

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Its weird because all I did was pick up the board with one hand and I only got the burning sensesation on one finger and not anywhere else. I did check the toxic wood list to see the different things about cocobolo. Also I have never had a reaction to any wood and ive only ever had one alergeic reaction and that was to getting stung by bees. Anyways Ive picked up the wood mulitple times since and it seems to be ok with no problems additionally there is no dust to speak of on the piece so maybe it was just my mind making up the reaction, its not totally out of question. When I actually do use the piece ill be sure to take proper provisions against getting the dust all over myself. Ill post pictures when I get back to my main computer.

MzI

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Edited by MzI
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Wow, That is odd that you would have a reaction with such minor exposure. If you are really that sensitive to cocobolo. Don't even think just chuck it. Seriously... If you get a reaction like that by touching it lightly. Can you imagine your reaction if it gets in your sinuses, lungs, eyes. I have never heard of that level of sensitivity, but.....

Peace,Rich

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Its weird because my other hand was competely fine and my other fingers on my right hand were fine. I will be taking extra precaution when I actually start working with the wood. For now its sitting in the box it was shipped in until I have a chance to bring it home.

MzI

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I used cocobola alot in hand made knife construction till I couldn't work it anymore. The oil in it seems to cause the reaction. It just takes a minute amount. Maby the wood was "sweating" alittle oil . I tried finishing it with polyurethane and it never realy dried. It turned to a waxy stuff that you could scrape right off with your finger. The stuff is dangerous to sand but once its sealed, (buffing works, (gets a glassed look), I can handle it just fine.

Edited by drpossehl
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