Keeping Purpleheart Purple?

Keeping Purpleheart Purple?

How do you keep purpleheart purple? When I turn or sand it, it loses it purple hue and turns a brownish grey color. – Michael Perry

Tim Inman: The color that makes purpleheart purple is, as you know, very fugitive. It is not light-fast. If you like that color, your best bet is to obtain a light-fast dye stain and tint the wood with it. Even then, the dye will eventually fade. Box elder has a really nice red streak in it sometimes. Turners love to make things to show off this red. I remember so well making wooden treenware with it. By the time I got to a woodworking show/sale, the red had faded to a dull-looking bloodstain brown. Life with wood.

Chris Marshall: About four years ago, I made a collection of trivets for Woodworker’s Journal (“Trammel-jig Trivets,” December 2011 print issue). The one pictured here has a purpleheart framework around it. As Tim suggests, eventually the purple color of purpleheart typically turns to a brownish color, but not on this trivet. It’s still bright purple now. Probable reason? It spends most of its life in a dark drawer in our kitchen.

I used wood from the same board to make a small stand for a photo we display on a shelf (see below). It’s not exposed to direct sunlight, which might help explain why it, too, is still basically the purple color you see here. I made the stand in 2011. Even though the wood hasn’t changed much over four year’s time, my kids sure have. Wish I could slow that down, too… but, so it goes.

Maybe I just got lucky with a particularly color-stable board.


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