purple heart finish

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Forum topic by jeffl posted 10-27-2009 03:15 AM 1413 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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288 posts in 3305 days

10-27-2009 03:15 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question purpleheart finishing traditional

I made a spokeshave from purple heart and want to preserve the brightest color possible.I’ve seen a few other post but nothing definite, any ideas?

-- Jeff,

2 replies so far

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Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 3728 days

#1 posted 10-27-2009 04:32 AM

I use purpleheart quite often. As you have seen, after tooling, the color changes to a grayish-purple. In order to restore the vibrant purple color, just let it set for several days in the open air in your shop. I sometimes set it under a halogen light I have affixed to my drill press but don’t really know if that makes a difference. Some say to set it out in the sunlight but haven’t seen that it recovers any faster that way, either.

After the color comes back, I apply two to three coats a 1 lb. cut of SealCoat shellac and sand back to bare wood after the shellac has dried. Repeat several times, as often as needed to fill the pores – this will give you a very nice smooth surface. After the last sanding, let set for several days, if needed, then apply a seal coat of shellac. After that, I usually just apply several coats of Arm-R-Seal finish.

From everything I’ve read, there is really nothing you can do to prolong the purple color other than keeping the object out of the sunlight as much as possible. Some say that spar varnish with UV inhibitors delays the color changing but others say it really doesn’t matter. It appears that the key factors are which particular species of purpleheart you end up with (there is no way for you to know – over 20 speies and they’re all sold as just purpleheart) and keeping it as much as possible from sunlight. Some people have reported purpleheart that they finished 5 years ago and it is still a deep vibrant purple, others see a change in six months.


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117090 posts in 3572 days

#2 posted 10-29-2009 05:36 AM

I think Jim said all I know about it.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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