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Thread: Keeping the red color: How do I finish cocobolo so it won't fade?

  1. #1
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    Keeping the red color: How do I finish cocobolo so it won't fade?

    Cocobolo varies a great deal - depending on what part of the tree it was taken from and where it was grown, the color varies from a sort of mottled brown to a deep red with black stripes. An example of what I'm going for is below:


    Assuming I can find some appropriate cocobolo, how can I finish it so that the color won't quickly fade? I've heard that UV-resistant lacquers of the type intended for boats work well, and that a little red tint isn't a bad idea.

  2. #2
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    All woods (I'm told there is one exception ) wil change color with time and exposure to UV. Supposedly, marine varnishes with UV inhibitors delay the process. But, the only delay.
    There was once a woman who owned a lumber company and woodworkers supply. She was known as the Lumber Lady. She developed a finish that (she claimed) prevented color changes. Sadly she died soon after bringing this product to the market and the forumla was lost.
    I suggest you just make the item and let nature takes it's way.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  3. #3
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    The pictures in question are a few years old, so I know it's possible. Maybe it has to do with the variety of the wood in question?

  4. #4
    Your saying the guitar is a few years old? I'm surprised, I've never seen the color of cocobolo stand up that well, but I'm not that experienced with it it. Odds are, the finish on that, like most guitars, is nitrocellulose laquere. Cocobolo and other oily woods darken (rather that fade) more from oxidation that from light. So having a good heavy finish that seals it from oxygen is the best retardant. Definitely don't use an oil finish on it, that will darken it right away.

  5. #5
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    Hand rubbed Oil finishes, on the lighter areas add a little tint to the oil.

  6. #6
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    Has anyone tried using epoxy resins like those used on carbon fiber composites? They're not cheap, but they're supposed to be very good at UV protection, which I'm told can make carbon fiber brittle.

  7. #7
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    I think for the purpose of guitars you want to keep the finish as thin as possible. Epoxy's are a thick finish and would have a barring on the sound. Hand rubbed finishes are thin as well as lacquer coating.

  8. #8
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    I have never heard of natural colors of wood fading except for maybe walnut which gets lighter. Most woods, especially tropical hardwoods get darker with age. From what I understand, most guitars are finished with plain old nitrocellulous lacquer, which is slowly becoming obsolete. Nitro cellulous lacquer will yellow after several years in a very high sunlighted area. If the guitar is used fairly often but stored in a case, this will not happen. The yellowing effect is greatly exaggerated if you consider that lacquer was used by the furniture industry for nearly the last 100 years. Look around your home at some older furniture and see how much yellowing it has suffered and how old it is. Eventually all finishes will fail.
    If you want to use a UV resistant product I would suggest Epifanes. This product is bulletproof. I use it on boats quite often including my own. It sprays readily when thinned. The solids content is quite high.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Shaul View Post
    Has anyone tried using epoxy resins like those used on carbon fiber composites? They're not cheap, but they're supposed to be very good at UV protection, which I'm told can make carbon fiber brittle.
    I have used epoxy resins before, I'm not sure if it is the same kind used in carbon fiber composites, but it is definitely the kind used in high quality fiberglass boats. There are many different kinds of hardeners used with epoxy resins. Most of them have an unclear somewhat milky look to them. There is a special hardener that is made for clear finishing, so just make sure you have the correct one. Now, also keep in mind that epoxies are very sensitive to UV damage. If you use an epoxy for a clear finish it must be topcoated with a marine varnish for UV protection. If you have ever seen a home made canoe or kayak that shows off the wood like looking under an inch of glass, that is most likely a single layer of fiberglass applied with a epoxy and varnish on top. Fiberglass becomes invisible when wetted out.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Bilello View Post
    If you want to use a UV resistant product I would suggest Epifanes. This product is bulletproof. I use it on boats quite often including my own. It sprays readily when thinned. The solids content is quite high.
    This sounds like an excellent solution - I'll give it a try!

    Does it accept tints?

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