Cocobolo Hardwood is a mid-sized, sub-canopy tree belonging to the Papilionaceae family, reaching 45 to 60 feet in height in the natural rainforest, with trunk diameters up to 3 feet, usually of irregular form. The heartwood is surrounded by white sap wood. The sapwood which is as dense as the heartwood will vary in amount depending on the age of the tree and the conditions of its habitat. The poorly formed stems yield the most uniquely figured and highly-prized wood. Cocobolo is leguminous, or nitrogen-fixing.
The heartwood is dense; some cocobolo has a specific gravity of over 1.0, and will sink in water.
Cocobolo has become very rare that supply is limited on the world market. Because of its great beauty and high value, cocobolo has been heavily exploited and is now mainly harvested from private finca’s where the 80 to 100 year old trees have been able to mature and from downed tree’s in storms and natural disasters.
One of the true tropical rosewoods, Cocobolo is probably the most beautiful exotic wood worldwide, ranging from a beautiful rich dark brick red, to reddish or dark brown, with a figuring of darker irregular traces weaving through the wood. The amount of figure and contrasting color varies widely from tree to tree. Cocobolo is fine textured and oily in look and feel. The wood has excellent working characteristics and the natural oils give the wood a natural luster. Cocobolo is highly durable and strong, it can be turned, planed, drilled and milled without chipping. It is twice the weight of Walnut, and is so dense it does not absorb water (it will not float!). Because of its scarcity and high value, it is used for its rare beauty rather than for its extreme strength or durability.
Due to its density and stability, Cocobolo works very well. It can be thickness planed to very tight tolerances. It can be drilled and counter bored without chipping the circumference of the holes. It can even be single point threaded. It can be milled precisely.
Cocobolo is highly favored for fine furniture and cabinetry, fine inlay work, brush backs, knife handles, guitars and other musical instruments, pool cues, fine fountain pens, decorative and figured veneers, parquet floors, hunting bows, automobile dashboards, bowls, jewelry boxes, and other expensive specialty items.
Besides its use in gun grips and knife handles, cocobolo is favored for fine inlay work for custom high-end cue sticks, police batons, pens, brush backs, and musical instruments, especially guitars, drums and basses. Some woodwind instruments, such as clarinets, oboes, and bagpipes, have been successfully made using cocobolo instead of the normal grenadilla (African blackwood). Further uses include veneers, bowls, jewelry boxes, pens, duck and goose calls, and other expensive specialty items.