My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #185: My Turn To Ask Some Questions

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 12-05-2010 02:44 PM 4102 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 184: Random Thoughts on Business Part 185 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 186: First Snow of the Year »

Recently when working with some purple heart wood, my partner noticed something unusual. (Maybe it was not so unusual, but it was to us) In choosing a piece of wood for his projects, he noticed that some of the purple heart looked more purple and other areas of it looked more brownish.

He was choosing the piece to make some small overlay pieces on his new ornament patterns and thought the purple color would be suitable.

In his observations, he saw that one edge in particular was quite purple compared to the rest of the piece and almost bright in color. When cutting the section that he was to use off of the larger board, he also saw that it seemed when heat was built up from the blade the color seemed to be brighter. We did some experiments.

Since we felt that perhaps the heat from the blade was causing the wood to change color, we wanted to try heating a small piece of wood to see what happened. We have a small toaster oven and put a scrap in it and watched it to see the result. After a few minutes, the color of the wood piece did seem to intensify. Cool, we thought.

He proceeded to cut his overlay pieces and then before gluing them onto the ornaments, heated them until the color was much more intense. He had to watch the wood carefully or else the ends of the wood got too brown – much like cookies baking a bit too much. He then proceeded to glue on the overlays and spray finish the ornaments with spray acrylic sealer.

I have some questions for you all regarding this process:

Have any of you had any experience with purple heart and why this would occur?

Is what we did by heating the wood a similar process to the ‘roasting’ process that they did to the beautiful dark rich birch piece I recently bought at the specialty wood store?

Is the change permanent, or will the wood revert back to a lighter color?

I realize that wood is an ever-changing breathing organism. However, I am wondering if by sealing it at that stage of color with the acrylic will halt the process and the wood would perhaps remain that shade of purple.

I know that many of you use exotic hard woods such as purple heart in your projects and I am sure that you can offer me much more information of your experiences with it that I have now. I would love to hear your feedback on what you may have discovered.

Today will be a day of organization for me. I went out yesterday and purchased 25 feet of thin foam that is typically used under ‘click floors’. If any of you are shipping gifts for the holidays, I would highly recommend this as something to use for protecting your nice wood items. It is thin and lightweight, yet gives a nice bit of protection to your pieces. I plan on using it to wrap the little skating figures from the pond. I am going to make a small envelope for each piece out of it and it will be a nice way to package the pieces and help keep them from getting scraped or breaking. (Let me know if you would like pictures) I was looking for the white foam sheeting, but I was only able to find the light green color with a logo printed throughout. I thought the white would have looked a bit nicer, but with living in a rural area such as I do, my choices were quite limited.

I am going to spend the next couple of days getting things ready for shipping and also working on some other gifts that I have to make. I have some new ideas too for projects and will get busy with them.

It is raining a bit today, but I hear that in the states that many people are experiencing snow. It will only be a matter of time now before we also have a blanket here. I really don’t mind though, as I enjoy the winter as much as the summer.

I am invited for rappie pie dinner today. Rappie pie (or Rapture Pie as some call it) is an Acadian dish of chicken and ground potatoes and when made correctly, is absolutely incredible. I live here on what is called the French Shore of Nova Scotia which is rich in Acadian history. Many people are ancestors of the settlers who arrived here 400 years ago and there are so many people named ‘Comeau’ here that they even named the neighboring town ‘Comeauville’. My friends that I am seeing are descendants of some of those original settlers and it is sure to be a wonderful time. Good food and good company. What better way to spend a Sunday?

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

7 comments so far

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 4194 days

#1 posted 12-05-2010 02:54 PM

Purple Heart changes color with time and exposure to light so when you cut it the cuts will be brownish. They will change to purple over time.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2881 days

#2 posted 12-05-2010 03:00 PM

Sheila, I found that after turning the pieces can be a bit brown, I put them in the sun and it gets a deeper purple. I may have some pieces that I did several years ago. I will see how they are now.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3061 days

#3 posted 12-05-2010 05:06 PM

Sheila, I confirm what you have found in terms of heating Purpleheart. I did this by saning too hard and overheating the wood.

Purpleheart tends to be lighter when first sawn, darkening with exposure to light into a bolder purple (possibly through UV exposure, other LJ’s please confirm or otherwise.

Unlike padauk, which is red when first cut but darkens to brown, purpleheart tends to keep its purple colour with age.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3328 days

#4 posted 12-05-2010 05:25 PM

so far most of the comments are confirming what purple heart does with sun exposure , but id doesnt sound like we know to much about actual heat and its to what happened on the saw…the friction of the blade will glaze a lot of woods that have a high oil content and thus it will be more bright…as to what heat does to it…not sure…we will have to watch what you have done with it sheila and see if it has any enduring effects or if the wood will go back to the larger purple or the brownish color….now…onto the food ….and the gathering of friends and enjoying there company…your dinner your going to sounds so soul satisfying..comfort food i call it…have a great time today with your gathering…enjoy the food and please report back on it…oh and get a recipe…you know me and good food…i will want to try this dish….....bon appetite…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3328 days

#5 posted 12-05-2010 05:34 PM

ok everyone here is a link to this very subject and i think it will answer every question you might have on this subject…i read about half of it and it is very informative…happy reading

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2945 days

#6 posted 12-05-2010 05:52 PM

You guys are the cat’s meow!! (PURRRRRRRR!)

I knew I could count on you for some great ideas and answers! I love this site so much!

Thank you so much for your help. I truly appreciate it.

Knowledge IS power! :D


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18288 posts in 3701 days

#7 posted 12-06-2010 09:47 AM

Interesting you should mention original settlers from the 17th century still living there. I have always wondered what that would be like, living where the family goes back 400 yrs. We got itchy feet I guess. My ancestors donated corn for the purchase of Stamford, CT, but here I am on the opposite coast ;-))

Interesting info about purple heart. I didn’t know sanding too hard and fast could change the color.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics