Practice Putting Drawers Together; Working Properties of Purpleheart
Issue: Issue 317
Posted Date: 1/8/2013
Drawer Sides and Well from WoodCentral
Oops. This woodworker found, with his drawers, that "practice" doesn't always make perfect. - Editor
"So, today I got some shop time in, and I am trying to practice making drawers and face framing. Things are going great up until I go to put the drawers together. Seems I forgot to flip around one of the side on each of the drawers, so now I have all lefts and no right-hand sides. Well, I am glad I am only practicing, 'cause if I had to go buy a new piece of wood for a stupid mistake I might not be laughing." - Mike
Another poster reassured him that it's an easy mistake, and offered a suggestion to avoid it in the future -- while someone else suggested a way to "fix" it. - Editor
"Very easy to do this. I try to mark the outside top front of each drawer side and make sure the mark coordinates with those on the drawer front and back as I'm laying out and sawing/chopping dovetails." - Don S.
"Since you're practicing anyway, you might practice recovering from the error. I assume the problem is that the groove for the drawer bottom is on the wrong side? If so, one way to fix the part is to rip off the bottom of the drawer side even with the top of the groove. Then, find a piece that matches the grain pretty closely and glue a new piece on. Cut the drawer bottom groove on the correct side and recut any dovetails or whatnot to complete the joinery to the front/back." - David H.
Purpleheart from WoodCentral
The poster who began this discussion had some questions about the particular properties -- and any particular difficulties of working with purpleheart wood. - Editor
"I am looking at using purpleheart for a couple of keepsake boxes. Can anyone enlighten me as to the pitfalls and problems in using this material? Does it chip, splinter, or tear out when machined? Does it tend to burn, does it warp, is there any problem in gluing, are there problems with finishes?" - Jerry N.
Some woodworkers did say they had had some problems with the wood dulling their tools, or burning when sanded. - Editor
"I've used a fair bit of purpleheart and found there are two types: one with straight grain that tends to be brownish and one that has twisty interlocked grain and is more ultraviolet. The straight grain one is just wonderful with hand tools, the other is just about impossible. Both machine well. They do splinter, but it is easy to control. I used a router on two benches and don't remember any issues with burning. No problems with warping, gluing or finishes." - Craig D.
"I have found that it burns when I run it through the drum sander, but that is for end grain cutting boards. It sands out with the [random orbit sander], however." - Merle
"The one board I ran through my thickness planer sounded like I was feeding a rock through it. Saw shiny specks in the grain and the knives went really dull. Finished the jewelry box for my daughter and swore off the stuff after that." - Dick C.
And others mentioned that it doesn't necessarily stay purple — at least when exposed to light. - Editor
"It doesn't stay purple, but it ages to a rich lovely brown." - Bill T.
"I planed some for a neighbor: three 8/4 boards, 8 or 10 feet long. Stuff is horrible heavy and dulls blades pretty quick. Planed nice, though, in spite of the interlocked grain: a lot less tearout than African mahogany with similar grain. As Bill notes, it doesn't stay purple long, but the inside of your boxes might. Makes a neat surprise when you open the box." - John
"I made a nice box for my older sister over 30 years ago, which is still purple, but she has no windows in the room where she kept it. A good friend / customer had a pair of front doors made down in Costa Rica which bled from the pores, and turned a nice teak color within a few months. I have gotten several boards which had the bleeding problem. I would imagine that they were not [kiln-dried], which would probably take care of that problem." - Keith N.