Palm Box (copy) #1: Purple Heart, ugh!

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Blog entry by mpmitche posted 12-23-2010 04:33 AM 1175 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Palm Box (copy) series Part 2: Hard Maple »

I decided I would try to whip out one of Andy’s palm boxes (mines a little bigger) for my daughter for Christmas. She loves purple so I picked up some purple heart and started cutting tonight. I’ve heard that purpleheart is brittle but WOW. I thought it would be along the lines of oak but this stuff splinters like crazy. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do what I had originally planned. I work mostly with hand tools and had planned to do some chamfering and a little filing to put a lamb’s tongue on some stopped chamfers. What do you all think about the best ways to work with this wood. Will these tools work and leave a decent finish, how does it take to sanding if this fails? And my last question, I think I remember hearing that it is brown when you cut it (which I noticed tonight) and turns purple when exposed to air. If it has not turned purple when I put the finish on will it still change with time? how long? Thanks, pics to follow soon.

-- Mike, Western New York

5 comments so far

View j_olsen's profile


155 posts in 3200 days

#1 posted 12-23-2010 04:57 AM

when i use PH and want that color to come back quickly i normally put it in bright sunlight until i get the color level

there was a conversation on this a week or so ago and there was suggestions of a uv lamp

just a thought

-- Jeff - Bell Buckle, TN

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3461 days

#2 posted 12-23-2010 01:48 PM

I find that putting purpleheart through any kind of planing (machine or hand) is difficult… you have to watch the grain carefully – and you can’t really tell which way to feed it in. If I get splintering from machine planing, I flip it around and run it through again. That usually takes care of the chip out. I also find that when planing the other side, it is the opposite of the first side. In other words, flip it again. You may have to do the same with hand planing.
I agree with Jeff… just expose it to air and the purple color comes back.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View patron's profile


13609 posts in 3370 days

#3 posted 12-23-2010 01:54 PM

when you finish it
it is like walnut or mahogany
open pores
it needs a sealer
to fill them
then the finish will lay flat

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View mpmitche's profile


428 posts in 3005 days

#4 posted 12-23-2010 03:58 PM

Reading around on LJ a little last night I got some conflicting info on finishing. I had planned to use an oil/varnish but some things said the oil can make the purpleheart turn dark faster. Any thoughts on that one? If not I’ll try some test pieces. Maybe just straight poly instead?

-- Mike, Western New York

View zlatanv's profile


691 posts in 3263 days

#5 posted 12-23-2010 06:43 PM

I asked about purple heart about a week ago, got some good info, I tried putting it in the sun a few days and it turned a nice purple, tried different finishes on some scrap, oil and water poly and lacquer, the lacquer kept the original color the best, but all turned it browner. Good luck!

-- Z, Rockwall, TX

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