help with purple heartwood finish

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Forum topic by Peloton posted 01-12-2009 08:29 PM 5340 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Peloton's profile


29 posts in 3671 days

01-12-2009 08:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finish help

For Christmas this year I made some boxes. The problem is; ok, there were lots of problems, but this particular problem is that after finishing the boxes, the purple heartwood was more brown heartwood.

I tried a couple different finishes. I used “natural” minwax with a coat of gloss polyurethae and I tried Tung oil.

Can anyone suggest a finish that will bring out or at least not mute the purple of the wood?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


-- “I'm thinking about it, ... I'm thinking it's the best way to piss [the French] off.” -Lance Armstrong

5 replies so far

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3964 days

#1 posted 01-12-2009 10:38 PM

i think freshly cut, purple heart will turn brown. then leaving it exposed to air, it will go back to purple. then if it is exposed to light to long, it will end up a purplish brown. I can’t be certain (you would think with so many people using PH, there wouldn’t be so many myths floating around about it). I bought my first piece a few weeks ago. At some point, I’ll try it out on simething to see what happens. Hopefully someone else can contribute more than me.

View jnimz's profile


35 posts in 3662 days

#2 posted 01-12-2009 10:56 PM

Purpleheart ages to a brownish color regardless of what you do, in my experience. The best finish I’ve found for preserving the purple color is mineral oil.

-- Jace - - - --

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 3672 days

#3 posted 01-12-2009 11:23 PM

I agree with jnimz, I have also had Purpleheart in the hand a few times (mainly knife making or woodturnings) and it always seem to turn a brownish color. I think that is just the way it is with alot of woods, they seem just to turn brown when starting out a reddish color (especially tropical woods). Same thing with plum wood.. it starts the most beautiful wood out of the planer, but after a year or sometimes less with sunlight it is just brown, still really pretty but browns and reddish browns.

I do not know about mineral oil… sounds good I will have to give it a shot

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View mmh's profile


3677 posts in 3958 days

#4 posted 01-13-2009 12:34 AM

I have tried using the Waterlox Marine quality polyeurethane/oil finish to see if the UV inhibitors will help keep the color of fancy woods brighter. It’s very costly ($30./qt.)and has toxic fumes, although there’s a new low VOC formula. This seems to have helped a bit, as I’ve had to re-finish a Pink Ivory & Purpleheart cane that was finished with tung oil that allowed them both turn brown. This photos is with the original tung oil finish before it darkened: . I’ve used this also on other bright fancy woods but I haven’t had these pieces long enough to tell if this formula really helps .

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Peloton's profile


29 posts in 3671 days

#5 posted 01-14-2009 06:23 AM

Thanks for the comments. My next project also involves purple heartwood and I’ll try some of the suggestions above.

-- “I'm thinking about it, ... I'm thinking it's the best way to piss [the French] off.” -Lance Armstrong

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