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Bocote

With its striking, zebra-like contrasts, and bold figuring, Bocote can be a very eye-catching wood. Bookmatching two consecutive panels can create symmetrical “faces” and other patterns in the wood, (though a relatively thin-kerf blade should be used to minimize the shift of the pattern). Bocote is generally used for its aesthetic attributes, rather than its mechanical ones—and although Bocote is by no means weak, its strength-to-weight ratio is below average. (It is roughly as stiff and strong as Hard Maple, even though Bocote is considerably heavier.)

Thicknesses

Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter

Distribution

Mexico and Central/South America

Scientific Name

Cordia spp.

Specific Gravity: Basic 

0.68

Specific Gravity: 12% MC

0.85

Janka Hardness

2,010 lbf (8,950 N)

Colour/Appearance

Has a yellowish brown body with dramatic dark brown to almost black stripes. Colour tends to darken with age. Also, the grain patterning can be quite striking, particularly on flatsawn areas. It’s not uncommon to see many “eyes” and other figuring in Bocote: though unlike knots, they do not seem to present any special challenges in machining.

Grain/Texture

Grain on most decorative pieces is usually figured in some way, and also tends to be interlocked, though pieces with plain and straight grain can also be found. Medium uniform texture and a naturally oily/waxy feel. Good natural luster.

Endgrain

Diffuse-porous; solitary and radial multiples; medium to large pores in no specific arrangement, few; tyloses and other mineral deposits (yellow/brown) common; parenchyma varies slightly between species, but is generally banded (marginal), as well as vasicentric, aliform (lozenge), and confluent; medium to wide rays, spacing normal to wide.

Rot Resistance

Heartwood is rated from moderately durable to very durable depending on the species; it is susceptible to insect attack.

Workability

Some species may contain silica that will dull cutters. On the whole, Bocote is easily worked and machined with good results. Although Bocote has a fairly high amount of natural oils present, gluing is usually problem-free. (See the article on gluing oily tropical hardwoods for more information.) Bocote also turns and finishes well.

Odor

Bocote has a moderate scent when being worked that resembles dill pickles.

Allergies/Toxicity

Bocote has been shown to cause cross reactions once an allergic sensitivity to certain woods has been developed. Woods that can cause initial sensitivity include:  Pau Ferro, Macassar Ebony, Cocobolo, and most Rosewoods. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability

Likely to be somewhat expensive, close to other mid-to-high priced exotic hardwoods.

Sustainability

This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
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