What finish should I use on a Purple Heart cutting board?

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Forum topic by Aric posted 07-03-2017 02:50 AM 4349 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 1115 days

07-03-2017 02:50 AM

Topic tags/keywords: purpleheart cutting board finish

Hello everyone I have a simple question today.

I am building my very first pair of cutting boards and am using Purple Heart, cherry, and walnut as my choice in lumber. After sanding it down, the Purple Heart turned a brown that is difficult to distinguish from the walnut. I hear if you expose it to oxygen and the sun (UV) it will regain its color, and you can finish it then. My question is what is the best finish to use on this cutting board to really make the Purple Heart pop without making it look too dark. I’d prefer it to be a bright and light shade of purple then a dark almost red/black shade. Any advice at all would be great! Thank you all!

8 replies so far

View jonah's profile


2119 posts in 4070 days

#1 posted 07-03-2017 02:53 AM

General finishes salad bowl finish is what I use on all my cutting boards. It looks great, wipes on easy, and needs much, much less maintenance than mineral oil. It also looks better IMO.

View Madmark2's profile


1365 posts in 1360 days

#2 posted 07-03-2017 02:54 AM

Purpleheart is beautiful, but not for cutting boards. Over time it will splinter possibly into the food.
BarCote is a self leveling epoxy that will protect the wood.


-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3813 days

#3 posted 07-03-2017 03:11 AM

Purpleheart will turn a brownish color with exposure to UV over time. The only way to protect it is a UV protective finish. Unfortunately, you need to use mineral oil or some sort of food grade finish which doesn’t have a UV protective property.
That’s about all I know, someone else may have a better answer. As far as I know I would say not to use purpleheart if your worried about the color. I don’t know about the splintering problem mentioned prior.


View KelleyCrafts's profile


4218 posts in 1511 days

#4 posted 07-03-2017 03:18 AM

Don’t use epoxy on a cutting board

Also, for a cutting board your finish options are limited. Worry more about being good safe than worrying about the color of the Purple Heart.

-- Dave - - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View Picken5's profile


307 posts in 3463 days

#5 posted 07-03-2017 03:48 AM

I’ve done quite a few boards using purple heart — but it can be challenging to work with. When freshly cut, it’s a deep purple color. It does turn brown with time, but my wife has one such board I made for her about 6 years ago and the purple heart is nearly as purple now as it was then. I’ve learned (the hard way) that purple heart can change to a brown color when exposed to friction heat — such as when turning or sanding. Go easy when sanding to minimize color change. I’ve had some good luck by card scraping by hand — but it is more work. If a knife will touch it like its meant to be used, I’ll finish with a mineral oil & beeswax mixture. If I think the recipient will just use it for decoration, I’ll sometimes just finish with polyurethane. (But the finish will get ruined if anyone ever takes a knife to it.) Both finishes are food safe — in fact nearly all hard finishes are food safe once they’ve fully cured.

-- Howard - "Time spent making sawdust is not deducted from one's lifetime." - old Scottish proverb

View Rich's profile (online now)


5609 posts in 1361 days

#6 posted 07-03-2017 04:01 AM

This question comes up frequently.

Are you planning to use it as a cutting board, or just a display or serving board? General Finishes salad bowl finish is a hard curing urethane, and not intended for cutting surfaces. Their web site specifically states “For actively used butcher block counter tops that are used for chopping and cutting, only use Butcher Block Oil.”

Boos block oil will work well too, as will similar products from other companies. The problem with urethane is that, while food safe, it will chip if used on a cutting board and not only look bad, but you’ll get it in your food. Not harmful, but not appetizing either.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View ChefHDAN's profile


1644 posts in 3621 days

#7 posted 07-03-2017 12:30 PM

+1 for Boos Block products, I use their Mystery Oil both professionally and at home. Mineral oil works to but I find it requires more frequent application. I would not recommend anything else for a food contact surface.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View splintergroup's profile


3778 posts in 1994 days

#8 posted 07-03-2017 02:13 PM

From what I have read on the subject, PH will do whatever it wants, regardless of finishes or exposure treatments.

Some good info at the Wood Database

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