Cocowood staircase balusters

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Project by CoconutGuy posted 03-21-2007 06:10 AM 2590 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Before I start removing my painted, pine staircase balusters and before I start milling my last coconut tree in the U.S.; I need all the advice I can get to help me replace the pine with cocowood. I will be using sugar-leached, kiln dried, 36” x 2” x 2” bolts and plan to:

1)Use a Legacy Ornamental Mill to make 2-rope, 3-twist, hollow-spirals.
2)Soak them for flexibility.
3)Twist and bend them to fit into the empty baluster sockets, one hole at a time to avoid having to re-align the railing system.
4)Glue, pre-drill, nail, and air dry until extremely hard.
5)Sand and finish with the harder portion of the natural coconut oil.

If you have any advice, I would certainly appreciate it. If this works, I will import coconut lumber for other projects also.

-- [email protected]

10 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35227 posts in 5287 days

#1 posted 03-22-2007 01:51 AM

Coconut Guy: Mark DeCou made hollow spiral for the contest that just finished. You might take a look at them, if you haven’t finalized your design.

Sorry I can’t give you any info on your project.

But is it a problem to lift the rail up so that you can remove the existing balusters and place in new ones. These things are installed all the time so I wouldn’t think that it would be a major job to remove and then to reinstall.

But since I’ve never done it I can’t speak from experience.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5201 days

#2 posted 03-22-2007 02:46 AM

Sounds interesting!

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4986 days

#3 posted 03-22-2007 05:36 AM

I don’t personally know anyone that has used coconut wood. Isn’t one of the LJ members from Hawaii? He might have experience or know of someone first hand.

I would love to have a Legacy Mill. I would buy one before a lathe.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View CoconutGuy's profile


7 posts in 4972 days

#4 posted 03-22-2007 06:49 AM

If I can teach the natives to make cocowood balusters, I will put a couple Legacy 900s in each village on all 22 islands (atolls).

-- [email protected]

View Drew1House's profile


425 posts in 4975 days

#5 posted 03-22-2007 08:09 AM

Pretty…. can you take a closer picture of the grain if you have time…

-- Drew, Pleasant Grove, Utah

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 5198 days

#6 posted 03-22-2007 01:50 PM

Those are going to be exceptional looking balusters.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View CoconutGuy's profile


7 posts in 4972 days

#7 posted 03-22-2007 03:59 PM

Yes, I wish that I could get started on the balustersor find someone who can.

-- [email protected]

View CoconutGuy's profile


7 posts in 4972 days

#8 posted 03-22-2007 04:15 PM

The spiral of the hollow-spiral candle-stick holder in the picture is too tight and is made of pine; it is just to provide a hollow-spiral concept and will not twist like cocowood should. Tight spirals cause too much cross-grain weaknesses. Cocowood is extreamly fiberous and I plan very long, low-pitch spirals to provide more contact between the firbers; 2 or maybe even 1 complete turn or spiral in 36 inches.

I found 3 Legacy mills in my Mapleton/Springville, Utah area but can’t get my hands on them for weeks! Any body know of a better opportunity? The manufacturer is busy with remodeling.

-- [email protected]

View Stephen Mines's profile

Stephen Mines

226 posts in 3577 days

#9 posted 02-24-2011 04:57 AM

I had a 70 foot tall coco palm taken down to make room for a driveway. The nurserymen cut it from the top into 2 to 2 1/2 foot lengths and just let them fall to the ground. At the base the diameter was a couple of feet and I, as a woodturner, thought WOW those things don’t need glueup…they’re ready to go on the lathe! I messed around with two or three of them for a day or two and was really disappointed at the way they worked on the lathe. They snagged and ripped and tore, pulling the fibers apart. I know they are being used in commercial applications for flooring and even some structural members, and for art works on occasion, but unless we are talking about two different species I’d reccomend you find another occupation for the islanders. I make pierced spirals of all sizes and woods and I think it would be really difficult if not impossible to make them in coco palm wood, at least by conventional means (i.e. Legacy) Just my take; your results, of course, might be different. I’d be very interested to learn how it comes out. Pine, incidently, turns, takes spirals and piercing just fine. And Karson, above, is absolutely right…stairs can be disassembled fairly easily. I’ve been involved in hundreds of stair projects…it is amazing how many mistakes get made in assembly on site! They come apart to be made right easily. Or to change balusters.

-- Stephen Mines ([email protected])

View CoconutGuy's profile


7 posts in 4972 days

#10 posted 02-24-2011 06:43 AM

Thanks Stephen, a 70-foot coconut tree should have enough solid wood to back up your opinion! The wood that I am after is over 60 years old and requires pre-drilling prior to nailing, it is very hard; it is considered senile. My hope is that the router would have more luck than a regular lathe chisel. I have seen the cocowood furniture in the Fiji airport and I think that I can copy it with proper pre-treatment, using Pentacryl or coconut oil with sodium silicate.

The islanders have no other occupational alternatives, their choice is to burn a billion board feet or learn how to work it. The churches, parliament house, and governmental offices are made of cocowood. They made beautiful, tongue and grove “ship lap” siding until an “evil spirit” in their only 4’ circle saw killed or threw a split board spear through one of the sawyers; they had no choice but to kill the saw to rid them of the devil! The saw now lies out in the jungle, while the senile trees also die.

-- [email protected]

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