What Is A Cocobolo Desk & Why Is It So Expensive?

Cocobolo desks are work surfaces or bureaus made from cocobolo wood. 


This wood is unique and incredibly expensive because of its rareness. It’s usually sourced from Central America and is highly sought-after because of its weight, density, and the variety of lovely colors and grains that it is available in. Desks made from this wood are automatically categorized as that of incredible quality, which is another reason that they’re so exorbitant in price. 


Below, we’ll be taking a look at everything that you need to know about this desk and what makes it so special:

What is Cocobolo Desk?

As previously explained, Cocobolo desks are made from the rare and precious Central Americal Cocobolo wood. This wood is globally prized because of its amazing durability, beauty, and ability to withstand or hold its own against preservatives.


Now, Cocobolo wood is very hard to source these days because the mass availability of its trees has been thoroughly exploited. There are very few of them at the moment and they’re protected in reserves, plantations, and even in national parks. Thus, it has become rare. As a result, any furniture or accessory made from them is not just precious, but also incredibly expensive.

 

Qualities of Cocobolo Desks

Cocobolo wood has a natural beauty thanks to its gorgeous grain and color. Here’s how it effuses in desks:

 

- Cocobolo desks have a natural sheen. Most wooden furniture has to be sanded, primed, and lacquered to make it shine, but with Cocobolo desks, it’s simply there, to begin with. This is  why it’s quite a favorite of designers.


- Cocobolo desks also boast unique visual characteristics. The wood itself is reddish or orange-brown and the surface is embedded with rich organic patterns that appear either black or purple. It's quite exotic and nothing like any other specie of wood.


- You can bet that a 100% authentic Cocobolo desk can make any office space feel instantly upscale and beautiful. There’s a lush, expensive quality to this wood that translates into every furniture piece that is crafted out of it.


- Many vintage furniture masterpieces were crafted out of Cocobolo wood. In fact, Don S. Shoemaker (a Mexican furniture designer) was a master of molding Cocobolo wood into iconic pieces. His modernist designs from the 60s and 70s are still pretty much on-trend. Even today, some of his most iconic designs are auctioned for more than $10,000.

Wharton Esherick is another popular figure to have worked with Cocobolo wood. He used to sculpt gorgeous pieces out of it, and recently (2014), one of his statues was auctioned for a whopping $123,750.

Why is Cocobolo Desk so Expensive?

Aside from being crafted from one of the rarest rosewoods in the world, Cocobolo desks are super expensive for other reasons as well. Here’s the main one:

 

Difficult Craftsmanship

The thing about Cocobolo wood is that it’s a true rosewood. This basically means that it has a very unique texture. It's oily and dense, which makes it quite difficult to craft. Moreover, this wood also has a persistent odor. It’s distinctive, but not at all appealing.


The rich texture of Cocobolo poses a lot of trouble when one is cutting it for a specific design. The slipperiness of the texture also keeps the glue from adhering to it. While the rich, natural lacquer-like qualities of the wood are one of its most notable and appreciated qualities, it also doesn’t let any finishing or preservative stay on the surface. In the hands of an amateur, the finishing can also become a sticky mess.


That said, only highly skilled and proficient craftsmen can work with Cocobolo wood. It’s extremely difficult to handle, so there’s a specific method to mold it into the furniture piece that one wants. Moreover, the first finish needs to evaporate in order for the second coat to be applied.


Another thing is that Cocobolo wood is allergy-inducing. It can also cause the handler to be inflicted with asthma or dermatitis. This is another reason why only a few and far between tend to work with it.

 

Cameo in Better Call Saul

Recently, a Cocobolo desk made a cameo in the popular spin-off series of Breaking Bad: “Better Call Saul.” That has incurred a mass public interest in these desks and why they are so expensive.