Question on sanding & finishing Purpleheart wood

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Blog entry by buckeyedudes posted 12-31-2009 12:22 AM 21809 reads 4 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Does anyone have tips on maintaining the beautiful purple color of the purpleheart wood after sanding and then finishing?

It seems that when I begin the sanding, the purple color fades into a washed out flat reddish color.

Also, what is the best way to finish purpleheart and enhance the purple coloration?

Thanks much – Perplexed Jeff in Ohio

-- Before you louse it up, THIMK!

6 comments so far

View papadan's profile


1166 posts in 2790 days

#1 posted 12-31-2009 12:24 AM

When the wood gets hot from sanding it turns brown, it will turn back in a day or so. I always use waterbased poly on woods like purpleheart to seal the wood and keep the bright colors.

-- Carpenter assembles with hands, Designer builds with brains, Artist creates with heart!

View SNSpencer's profile


133 posts in 2535 days

#2 posted 12-31-2009 01:03 AM

Yep, give it a day or so. The color will come back. Just make sure your lighting on the project is even. Otherwise you will find two shades of purple on the project. I finish with spray lacquers alot with great success.

-- Jef Spencer - Refined Pallet -

View drfixit's profile


318 posts in 2566 days

#3 posted 12-31-2009 01:51 AM

The purple color of purple heart is a brownish color , but after exposed to UV light and air it will turn purple. The best way to keep the color ,from what i understand, is to use lacquer finish, and keep it out of direct sunlight. Hopefully this helps.

-- I GIVE UP!!!! I've cut this @!&*!% board 3 times.... its still too short!

View Andy's profile


1630 posts in 3330 days

#4 posted 12-31-2009 01:58 AM

If you check the edge of a fresh cut board of purpleheart you will see a richer purple color, often a violet to black color where the blade has rubbed longer in those spots. This is due to the blade heating up the resins. Sanding removes the oxidation the purple color and the wood turns brown…depending of course on the specific piece of wood and its resin content. It will reoxidize and purple up again over time, but the color will vary on whats in that board. This can be speeded up with heat or sun lamps since UV rays work too. Another option is to place your boards in the oven prior to final sizing and finishing. Too much heat can cause the resins to come to the surface unevenly and make for a splotchly finish, and may warp the board.
Dont put your finish on until you are happy with the color.

Paul Hinds explains this much better with his in depth testing and photographs than I can.
Follow this link:

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View buckeyedudes's profile


150 posts in 2550 days

#5 posted 12-31-2009 03:31 AM

This really helps, thanks for all the great responses <and>.


-- Before you louse it up, THIMK!

View ward63's profile


344 posts in 2509 days

#6 posted 12-31-2009 07:07 AM

I’ve used tung oil with good results-I made a purpleheart & maple tissue box about 10 years ago. The maple yellowed but the purpleheart is still a beautiful purple. Just keep it out of the sun.

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