Purpleheart, now kinda looking like greyheart

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Forum topic by Abbynormal posted 08-29-2010 06:59 PM 1855 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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34 posts in 2859 days

08-29-2010 06:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question purpleheart

I picked up a nice purple looking piece of purpleheart to make some cutting boards out of (of course). After ripping / sanding that nice purple color that the board had is more grey / brown. I tossed a coat of poly on a scrap piece still not getting that nice purple the board had before. Is this normal, do I need to let the board age or something or maybe i just got a bad piece, first time working with this type of wood.

Thanks !

15 replies so far

View araldite's profile


188 posts in 3428 days

#1 posted 08-29-2010 07:11 PM

Purpleheart looses it’s color with age, so it’s not going to get any better.

-- Failure is the road to success if you learn to learn from your mistakes - Vince, Greenville, SC

View Mark's profile


1807 posts in 3298 days

#2 posted 08-29-2010 07:45 PM

the purple heart turns purple from exposure so if its freshly cut it’ll take a few days before its purple again

-- M.K.

View dub560's profile


615 posts in 2937 days

#3 posted 08-29-2010 07:50 PM

wow that’s news to me(never worked with that wood)

thanks for the post

-- Life is enjoyable especially when you borrow from people

View Abbynormal's profile


34 posts in 2859 days

#4 posted 08-29-2010 10:54 PM

thanks all, will let it sit for a couple of days

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3098 days

#5 posted 08-29-2010 10:56 PM

Purple heart looses its color with age as araldite said. You can slow it down with a good preservative, but you cannot stop it. Note – Padauk does the same thing.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View ghazard's profile


382 posts in 3533 days

#6 posted 08-31-2010 09:59 PM

Set it in a room with sunlight…doesn’t have to be direct sunlight. It is the UV in sunlight that turns it purple after it is fresh cut. So, if your garage or shop is windowless like mine…move it into the house and in a day or 2 it will be nice and purple!

good luck


-- "Hey, you dang woodchucks! Quit chuckin' my wood!"

View SteveMI's profile


1101 posts in 3318 days

#7 posted 08-31-2010 10:14 PM

I have some purple heart, but have not committed it to a project due to some of the stories about color loss. Lets see of I can put two thoughts together.

If I let it have UV after getting it to my final shape/position, the maximum purple color will come out and then good preservative right after that will keep its purple the longest?

Rich – oil base, water base, poly, BLO, mineral oil… which is best or worst for purple heart color in your experience?


View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3752 days

#8 posted 08-31-2010 10:33 PM

No one appears to have had my experience. Purpleheart can sometimes turn grey right after cutting/sanding. Leave it exposed to air for a while and the purple color will come back. As time progresse4s though, that purple should turn to a REALLY rich brown color that with a slight purple undertone. Using a film finish will help to slow the change as well as keeping it out of direct light. Applying oils can sometimes cause the purple to rurn brown faster too. Hope this helps.

View Benighted's profile


57 posts in 2885 days

#9 posted 08-31-2010 10:41 PM

Some UV and oxygen and it should only take a couple of days for it to turn nice and purple again… After it has oxidized its probably a good idea to protect it with a finish that contains UV blockers and restricts oxygen access so that the pigments are protected from further oxidation, I don’t have any longterm experience with this wood. You can also bake Purpleheart in a oven to get a stronger and more even coloration (if it has very dark resinous lines)... I don’t remember the recipe but find it if you wish…

It’s really fascinating to see the transformation from a really boring graybrown wood to a brown with a purplish tint to a full blown purple wood in a couple of days in a sunny airy placement.

-- Jani, a Neanderthal woodworker in Sweden.

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 2859 days

#10 posted 09-02-2010 03:27 PM

The folks at the lumber place i bought mine at said to avoid UV light which can bleach it grey and to use a UV protective finish. From using it the last 8 months the stuff seems to darken best in my poorly lit basement.
I’ve also read that heating it in the oven can bring out the purple some more. Supposedly various temps and times will also result in a navy blue, dark brown and an ebony looking wood. I’ll be experimenting with this when it isn’t 90 out since I need a blue wood.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2950 days

#11 posted 09-02-2010 04:01 PM

I have had the same experience as Hokie.

It sands, planes, cuts to a slightly different color, but within a few days exposure to air / light, purple comes back.

Depending on the grade of the lumber, it can remain very bright for years without fading, other pieces I have used have faded measurably over a year.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3378 days

#12 posted 09-12-2010 11:20 PM

There are so many variables… but leave it out in UV light for a few days and then finish it with a sealer or oil and hope for the best… the worst that can happen is it will turn a great shade of chocolate brown with time… and they is not a bad thing either… that said … I have had project that are a few years old and they are still bright.. others have changed in a few months…
Hope this is of help..

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 3757 days

#13 posted 09-14-2010 04:12 AM

I did a bit of research on purpleheart when I used it a while back. When you cut/sand/plane purpleheart, the purple will turn a dull, grayish color (maybe). There are a couple dozen different genus of trees that qualify to be called purpleheart; some stay purple while most turn the grayish/purple color when worked. I find that if I leave it sitting in my shop for several days to a week, the purple returns. I left one piece in the back window ledge of my car to expose it to a great deal of UV – didn’t hasten the return to purple at all. So I have doubts about UV helping to change the color back to purple after you have worked the wood.

But, purpleheart will gradually turn to brown after being finished and left in the sunshine (again, maybe). I have talked to people who report that they have purpleheart furniture that is in a room that gets sunshine and it hasn’t changed color appreciably in 8-10 years. This is with a finish of polyurethane – no significant UV blockers. Again, I imagine this imagine on exactly which tree genus you get when you buy your purpleheart. And from what I could discover, there is no way to tell which genus you get when you buy it.

As for ‘cooking’ it – I have read that this does work but you probably don’t want to do it when your sweetie is going to be home because it reportedly smells awful.

Hope that this helps.


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View millmgr's profile


27 posts in 3136 days

#14 posted 09-27-2010 07:45 PM

I have heard that using a UV inhibitor like Armorall in the finishing process will keep the purple color in Purpleheart and the blood red color in padauk. Do not have personal experience to back it up.

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4116 days

#15 posted 09-27-2010 07:51 PM

Millmgr is right but it just slows it down… doesn’t stop it completely… sadly.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

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