Purpleheart question

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Forum topic by GrumpyGolfGuy posted 05-17-2020 04:13 PM 412 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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62 posts in 102 days

05-17-2020 04:13 PM

This cutting board I recently finished has maple, walnut and purpleheart. As you can see in the picture the purpleheart is dark almost to the point of the walnut. I’m wondering why? Ive seen others using purpleheart and it has a nice light purple color, I’m just wondering why mine came out so dark?
Is it that I’m working in a basement and that’s where I store my wood?


10 replies so far

View therealSteveN's profile


5948 posts in 1380 days

#1 posted 05-17-2020 04:49 PM

The linked article says what I have heard all along. The differences, and believe me the rates , and amounts of color change in the same species are all over the place. I am evidently like you, the Purpleheart I have used went chocolate brown in less that a month. I didn’t get any changes using the tips in the article, but some have. Best of luck.

The amounts of oxidation, or air quality, and UV, the light the wood gets make the difference.

-- Think safe, be safe

View LesB's profile


2575 posts in 4249 days

#2 posted 05-17-2020 05:12 PM

Many woods “oxidize” with time and change color. Cherry is notorious and Myrtle wood (Calif. Bay Laurel) too but Purpleheart is one of the most disappointing because you completely lose the raw color.

On a cutting board that is only treated with oil or wax it is hard to slow down….I don’t think you can ever stop it.
On other projects I have had some luck in slowing the process for quite a long time when they are immediately “sealed” in with a hard top coat of varathane, lacquer or varnish and kept out of sunlight. I have a large Myrtle wood buffet I made that was sealed and it stayer light and bright for 12 years so far. A clock made from the same stock that hangs above the buffet and finished with oil and wax turned dark brown in about 18 months. Looks like walnut now.

-- Les B, Oregon

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3184 posts in 2604 days

#3 posted 05-17-2020 05:14 PM

Most woodworkers that stay with the craft long enough will stay away from Purple Heart. It just not worth the time and trouble. All of it will eventually turn a ugly brown just like Padauk.
Your cutting board doesn’t look flat :(

-- Aj

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62 posts in 102 days

#4 posted 05-17-2020 05:22 PM

Your cutting board doesn’t look flat :(

- Aj2

It’s flat, I actually took some time after sanding to make sure it was level before the finish. Must be the angle of the picture, I do agree that in the picture it looks”off”


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62 posts in 102 days

#5 posted 05-17-2020 07:21 PM

So what woods don’t loose their color over time. I’m guessing most of the”brown” ones don’t.


View Kazooman's profile


1515 posts in 2758 days

#6 posted 05-17-2020 08:25 PM

I have had good success with purpleheart that was finished with Deft. Here are two pictures of a blanket chest. Fourteen years apart. The color has certainly matured, but it is still decidedly purple. Actually, the picture doesn’t do the purple color justice. I had to use the flash and it has added a bit of a yellow color shift (note the claro walnut top). No, I wouldn’t use Deft on a cutting board, just pointing out that the finish can have an impact on retaining the color.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3358 posts in 2300 days

#7 posted 05-17-2020 10:21 PM

Here is another like about color degradation that might help.

So what woods don t loose their color over time. I m guessing most of the”brown” ones don t.
- GrumpyGolfGuy

IME – Walnut tends to get lighter over time.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Madmark2's profile


1461 posts in 1394 days

#8 posted 05-17-2020 10:40 PM

Stick it in bright indirect light for a day. If you lay something across it you’ll be able to see the tan line.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View SMP's profile


2251 posts in 712 days

#9 posted 05-17-2020 11:16 PM

So what woods don t loose their color over time. I m guessing most of the”brown” ones don t.
- GrumpyGolfGuy

IME – Walnut tends to get lighter over time.

- CaptainKlutz

Yep. I made a box a while back with cherry and walnut, it was quite dramatically different when i first made it, used some cherry on the lighter side and used the darkest black walnut I had. Now they are almost the same shade, just the cherry is notably redder.

View mjheck's profile


37 posts in 1956 days

#10 posted 05-21-2020 06:27 AM

I use purpleheart in a lot of my endgrain 3D style cutting boards mostly in combination with Sapele and maple. I have found that the day before I run it through my drum sander for it’s final sanding(and after planing it) if I let it set in a sunny area(not direct sunlight) overnight by the next morning it has taken on the bright purple color. Putting Butcher Block Conditioner on right away helps to maintain the bright purple. It does usually lose some of it’s brightness in time but still retains the purple glow.

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