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Forum topic by USMCeod posted 01-12-2013 03:49 PM 1316 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 1962 days

01-12-2013 03:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question purpleheart planer finishing help tips beginner

I bought this piece of wood at a yard sale. It is a slab of Purple Heart. I bought an electric hand planer due to the shape that it was in when I bought it. It measures 31” across. While the electric hand planer worked wonders to get it where it is, it still has small “ridges”. So my question is how do I get rid of the ridges. I tried using a regular hand planer. It just kept gouging the wood. So far the crack in the middle has caused any problems. Plus the wife thinks it gives it character. This is going to be an end table top. So I would love for it to be perfectly smooth. Any tips, advice, and critiques are welcomed.

-- It started as therapy....and it still is.

13 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile


6929 posts in 2597 days

#1 posted 01-12-2013 03:52 PM

Random Orbit sander starting with a low grit, and then working your way up. An incredibly sharp hand plane. Or a sled/jig that will allow you to use a router on it.

View GlennsGrandson's profile


442 posts in 2307 days

#2 posted 01-12-2013 03:57 PM

Depending on how big the ridges are you could try cabinet scrappers, they are much faster than sanding and leave a really nice finish. They can also be picked up for pretty cheap. Or, sand the crap out of it (not fun). BTW They say that a lot of the “purpleheart” woods dust can have nauseating effects so try to were a mask (you should all of the time really). You might also consider making one the the many router sleds that people have designed on this website to help get it a little closer to flat with possibly less pronounced ridges. I’d fill the crack with a slow setting, deep penetrating epoxy to keep it from getting worse, or try your hand at bow ties. Remember that the purpleheart can be very hard (especially according to the JANKA scale), so keep your tools sharp. Good luck, hopefully this helps a little bit.

BTW, beautiful piece, nice garage sale score and welcome to Lumberjock’s!

-- Grant - N Dakota

View chrisstef's profile (online now)


17386 posts in 3005 days

#3 posted 01-12-2013 03:59 PM

I might even start with a belt sander with 80 grit then progressing through with a random orbit sander.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View USMCeod's profile


8 posts in 1962 days

#4 posted 01-12-2013 04:07 PM

I tried a belt sand and an orbital. The orbital had 40 grit and the table was eating the paper! It is a very hard wood. I think I might start looking at the router jigs. Thanks for the advice guys.

-- It started as therapy....and it still is.

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3575 days

#5 posted 01-12-2013 04:07 PM

If your new to wood working you may not have enough experience to use a belt sander so I agree with the use of a random orbital sander start with 40 grit sand paper and then keep go through the grits to get it smooth grit, at this point it should look very good. Just remember to spend the most amount of time using the lower grits to get the grooves out the 40-80 grits.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2145 days

#6 posted 01-12-2013 04:08 PM

You’re planing across the grain. The only way to do that with a hand plane is for it to be super sharp. I second the suggestion of a card or cabinet scraper. Sanding that sounds like a vicious asswhipping.

View kdc68's profile


2657 posts in 2275 days

#7 posted 01-12-2013 04:21 PM

Belt sanders are aggressive, and may leave additional grooves and uneven areas if you aren’t careful. A hand plane would require a bit of finesse with your piece. The router gig may take time to build and set up. The random orbit sander is a better option. As a1Jim suggests about the grits of paper. Don’t skip any inbetween, as each progressively finer grit will remove the scratches left behind from the grits used previously. Once satified with sanding you can follow up with a cabinet scrapper for a super smooth surface. But sanding alone may provide the results you want

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29226 posts in 2336 days

#8 posted 01-12-2013 07:38 PM

Looks like the outline of lips!

I would go through the progressions of sanding

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Grumpymike's profile


2238 posts in 2313 days

#9 posted 01-12-2013 08:25 PM

If you use the card scraper, you will illiminate most of the sanding. But using a card scraper is a learned talent, mostly in how to keep them sharp.
I dislike sanding so I learned the scraper meathod to avoid breathing the dust.
So, the bottom like here is sand it or scrape it … IMHO

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2688 days

#10 posted 01-13-2013 02:25 AM

All good advice above but taking it to a cab shop and running it through their wide belt or drum sander would be fast, easy, and yield good results.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 2835 days

#11 posted 01-14-2013 02:57 AM

I’m with grumpymike on this one – cabinet scrapers are much more effective then sanders. A sharp scrapers will take of a skin like layer and truly flatten a surface. If your not careful, a sander can leave gulleys on the surface. But like grumpy said, scarpers involve a learning curve in keeping them sharp. For a big or tough job, I always resort to my Stanley #80 scraper. It will take the finish off any old furniture real quick and leave a nice 320 finish.

Whatever method you decide on, keep checking your progress with a straight edge so you can focus on the high points. This would be a yard on its’ edge with a light source behind it. With the yard rule on its’ edge, you will see light peeking through the low spots of your wood and the high spots will be making contact with the rule. Good luck and welcome to wood working.

You’ve already discovered a few things about wood working. Lots of nice folks here willing to help and lots of different approaches to any problem – none are wrong, you just need to find which method works best for you.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View sparks's profile


62 posts in 3087 days

#12 posted 01-14-2013 03:37 AM

Purple heart is so hard. I would maybe check into cabinet shops around you and see if they can put it thru a planer or drum sander for you.

-- Sparks

View GlennsGrandson's profile


442 posts in 2307 days

#13 posted 01-18-2013 04:34 PM

Scrapers are, IMO, not hard to learn or to keep sharp. I bought a high carbon rod (very hard) and some scrapers for about $30-35 and watched a video. I use them every day that I am in the shop, they are so nice to use. They take have very thin shavings and leave, most of the time, an almost finish ready surface. They are great for cleaning up glue lines and other lines or blade marks.

-- Grant - N Dakota

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