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Cocobolo toxic?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by fish man, Nov 1, 2006.

  1. fish man

    fish man

    Nov 14, 2005
    Ontario, Canada
    What is your experience? Warmoth say that they refuse to work it due to alergic reactions and toxic dust, but before having heard that I bought a piece with which I've been making nuts for the last month or so. I haven't noticed any skin rashes (I've been working it gloveless), although the dust may have been slightly irritating my lungs.
    What should I believe? I'm 98% sure that what I've been using is indeed Coco, it has that unmistakeable colour and oilyness.
  2. tribal3140

    tribal3140 Banned

    Nov 9, 2004
    near detroit...uh
    the scent is very distinct, thats why they call them rosewoods, the vaporizing oils give off a very aromatic scent distinct to the dalbergias.

    not really toxic, few and far between people have allergic reactions and sensitivities.
    I could eat it and it wouldnt bother me (dont try this I am just kidding>)

    I personally dont love the smell, I am much fonder of some of the rarer rosewoods.
    tulip and camatillo=excellent!
    cocobolo and ea rosewood yuk!
    its just me though.
  3. Foamy


    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    You should not breathe any wood dust. But it is hard not to sometimes.

    As far as toxicity goes...


    From that site:
    Cocobolo's fine dust and oily texture may cause a skin rash, so wear gloves if you show some sensitivity.... this oil can also cause some glue up difficulties, so be sure to experiment a little.

    I do turn pens from it, and I do like the smell though - kind of like an old baseball glove.
  4. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Cocobolo is a sensitizer and an irritant. It is on the high end of the potentcy scale and it is common to have a reaction to it. It's not toxic in the common sense of "it'll kill you" any more than any other wood dust but...

    Skin irritation is possible though not as common as respiratory/sinus. Some people do break out with a poison-ivy like rash. I have never broken out from any wood but some people do. Sneezing and runny nose is what I get, that is very common with cocobolo and the rosewoods. Some people have reactions in the eyes and/or get a headache.

    Sensitizers get worse as opposed to better with repeated exposure. Wear a mask for sure and long sleeves aren't a bad idea.
  5. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    Perhaps cocobolo is not that toxic, but be careful when you make a fretboard out of the deadly upas tree's wood (and don't ever ever chew on your bass if you have an upas fretboard)

    Erasmus Darwin in Loves of the Plants (Botanic Garden, pt. ii.) said that "the tree destroys all animal life within a radius of 15 m or more. The poison was fetched by condemned malefactors, of whom scarcely two out of twenty returned."

    Natives used the latex in the wood to make poisoned arrows. The latex, present in the bark and foliage, contains a cardiac glycoside named antiarin.

    That said, those who have lived to tell the tale say that the sound of such fretboards is incredibly sweet, right up to the very last note....:bawl:
  6. andvari7


    Aug 28, 2004
    Of course, it goes on to suggest that "All this is pure fable, and in good part not even traditional fable, but mere invention." Not by Erasmus Darwin, mind you, but from other...scholarly *cough*Wikipedia*cough*...sources.

    But the antiarin is, as you said, in the bark and the foliage. Would the wood underneath the bark be affected as well?
  7. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    Only one way to find out :D
  8. tribal3140

    tribal3140 Banned

    Nov 9, 2004
    near detroit...uh
    alot of plants prodice toxin both myo, neuro and coctail!

    if you eat enough pectin it becomes poisionous (thanks the original blob movie) apple seeds.
    or one of the deadlest poisions known to man is risin from the castor bean.


    hearts of palm........no wait thats just nasty!;)

  9. What Matt said. Coco bolo is a seriously bad sensitizer meaning you can work with it for years then one day a small rash and the next day it's off to the ER with shortness of breath. Once a sensitive reaction to coco bolo is experienced it only can get worse. Most people understand this and remove all the coco bolo from their shop.

    All wood dust is considered carcinogenic.
  10. WHAT?!?!?!
    I just knew all this fun HAD to be bad for you!
  11. Ain't nuthin' poisonous about a nice fresh head of swamp cabbage!

    My one run-in occured with some rosewood fingerboards I was putting through my thickness sander before I attached suction to it. This sander makes more dust than anything you've seen and I would always do it outside because of that. As I sanded and sanded, the dust built up on my arm where my sweat just turned it to a red mud and then began to burn like crazy. It was incredible - I washed it off and put some lotion on and it went away. Fortunately I was using my NIOSH mask for all this type of stuff. I couldn't imagine getting that dust in my lungs. Smelled great though!
  12. teej

    teej Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    :eek: GASP! I feel so guilty now. In the process of providing us with fine woods, Larry is exposing himself to harmful substances. We should be ashamed!

    By the way, I'll be needing a small piece of claro walnut to replace the one I miscut the other day. And some neck woods, too.
  13. I'm exposing all you guys to it!!!! Come to think of it most of the dust has been removed from the board when it leaves my shop :D

    Australia declared wood dust carcinogenic many years before the USA did.
  14. teej

    teej Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    He's right!
    We've all been exposed!
    Larry's an enabler!
    It's an pandemic!

    Actually, I was sanding down some of this walnut the other day (without a dust mask :rolleyes: ), and I had this scratchy sensation when breathing. It's gone now. I'd hate to develop some sort of allergy to my favorite wood. :help: