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Best Cocobolo Finish


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Generally Cocobolo is oily enough to care for itself. Some workers clear it however I prefer the feel of a wood rather than a finish any day. Your call either way.

The most care Cocobolo needs is the same as a Rosewood fingerboard. Occasional cleaning and mild conditioning if it looks or feels dry. A little oil goes a long way as always. I wouldn't use a polymerised oil (one that cures to a film like Tung oil or Tru-oil). Just a simple one like a little boiled Linseed, Almond oil, etc. Wipe on, wipe off and buff with 0000 steel wool. Generally Cocobolo can be polished to a mirror shine without adding anything through the virtue of its own natural oil content.

I would add that "lemon" oil is not a good idea since it is a cleaner rather than a conditioner. This one always ends up being mentioned whenever "care for it like a Rosewood fingerboard" is written :-D

The reason I mention wax is if you want to care for a natural wood instrument using the same care methodology as a Warwick. I won't go too far into this one as I am experimenting with blending waxes, oils and solvents myself to come up with my own sweet smelling paste wax cheaply. Warwick's own is pretty good if you want a fire-and-forget product for a raw wood instrument.

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If you're worried about oils just rub the neck with acetone first, it will get a good amount of the oils off the surface and a little into the wood so the finish will bond better. I saw a few acoustics done that way and it worked out great for them. Just remember to keep heat off the neck. One of those acoustics I mentioned had the sun shining on it through a window and it was enough to cause all the oils to bubble out and make the finish look like it had scales.

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really???????????i did not know it!

to be honest i will try to keep the wood..raw and not chemical treatment...

but if i oil it ...i must repeat the same procedure in how much time??

if i put tung oil and carnauba wax for example??

I don't know if I would keep the cocobolo raw, I would definitely put a finish on it. Raw wood feels nice but it will soak in our hands oils over time and soften. Cocobolo might take longer because of the oils but I really don't know because of how oily it is. I'd imagine you may run into adhesion problems with any finish you use because of the oils but you never know until you test it.

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Prostheta is right in that cocobolo will be fine unfinished, just like the other rosewoods. And just like other rosewoods, the oils in it will eventually darken the wood, turning it a dark brown.

HOWEVER.......

If you want to keep it looking great with all of the brilliant colors and graining that cocobolo is known for, you need to have a finish on it. Coco is one of the most oily woods around. In many cases, the oils darken, even turning black, ruining the appearance of the wood. Unless they are sealed in, they WILL come back to the surface and screw up anything that is applied, be it other rubbed-in oils, wax, or some type of finish. The oils are so aggressive that they prevent most finishes from curing, leaving them a gummy mess.

The only way to make sure this doesn't happen is to seal the oils in there. The ONLY thing that works 100% of the time is shellac. As soon after working/sanding the wood as possible, bathe it in acetone. When that has dried, soak it in shellac. You are likely to need multiple coats, thus building up a barrier finish similar to lacquer and polyurethane, though much less durable.

If you want a satiny look feel, buff the shellac with steel wool after leveling it. This will five you the satin/matte finish you wanted AND make sure the wood stays beautiful.

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Yes, you most certainly can do that. That I'm aware of, this is what most folks will do if they want a thick barrier finish. Shellac is unique among film/barrier finishes in that it has no adhesion issues with other finishes. IE: it will "stick" to everything, and everything "sticks" to it.

PERSONAL VOODOO: Unless you plan on gigging with it constantly, I feel that the liklihood of wearing through the finish on the neck is fairly low. I personally don't have an issue in bilding up a thick shellac finish over a coco neck and being done with it. I'm doing that on an all coco Strat neck/fretboard I'm working on. Thinking about it for a second, I'd be more worried about the f/b than the neck because of the additional friction & abrasion of the strings.

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