Advice on Purpleheart

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Forum topic by sikrap posted 12-03-2009 01:19 AM 936 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1121 posts in 3381 days

12-03-2009 01:19 AM

I have a block of what I’m told is purpleheart.It is 2 7/8” x 9 1/2” x 8 1/2”. I’m told this is a very difficult wood to work with. Would I be better off trying to use this for accent pieces or giving it to a turner? Thanks!!

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

6 replies so far

View SNSpencer's profile


133 posts in 3135 days

#1 posted 12-03-2009 01:39 AM

I have not found this wood very difficult to work with. I have made quite a few boxes with it, many using a dovetail jig without too much issue. (See my project pictures for one example) The wood can create some pretty nasty splitners but if your tools are nice and sharp that should not be an issue. Just be aware that it cuts to be a very bright and rich shade of purple, but as it sits in the light, mainly sunlight, it turnes a rich brown over time. The best way to gauge this is to take a freshly cut or plained piece an cover up a portion of it, then set it in your windowsill for a few days. You would be suprised at the color difference.

-- Jef Spencer - Refined Pallet -

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3584 posts in 3390 days

#2 posted 12-03-2009 02:39 AM

Keeping finished PH out of direct sunlight will keep its bright purple color. PH is very hard but works nice with sharp tools. That is a nice sized piece you have, can be cut for boxes, inlays, or turned. When power sanding it will turn brown on you, let sit for a day or so and the purple will be back.

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155 posts in 3193 days

#3 posted 12-03-2009 02:56 AM

I have a large 4/4 piece that was given to by the guy I bought my bandsaw from during the summer and I’ve used it mainly as accents to this point but I like working it more than I did the Brazilian cherry I made my last box from

-- Jeff - Bell Buckle, TN

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1121 posts in 3381 days

#4 posted 12-03-2009 03:18 AM

Thanks!! Would this be a good wood for turning? I have a friend that is a turner and I was thinking of giving him this as a Christmas gift.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

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200 posts in 3124 days

#5 posted 12-03-2009 04:58 AM

Attach a glue block, and he could spin a nice bowl.

-- So Many tools, So little time

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187 posts in 3457 days

#6 posted 12-03-2009 05:26 AM

I’m making a side table with PH accents and I don’t think it’s difficult to work with at all. It doesn’t burn very easily when machining, and it seems to need much less sanding than the walnut and mahogany pieces I’m also working with.

I also concur with SNSpencer. While planing my PH I grabbed a corner of the board and got more splinters in my hand than I’ve had in years. The angles can be sharp. I hadn’t heard about keeping it out of sunlight to keep it’s color, so thanks to those who mentioned it.

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