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Spotlight on woods: Purpleheart

Posted by Jason Jones on

We are going to start featuring a fact sheet on each of the woods we use in the shop to craft our items.  This month, in honor of Valentine’s day we are going to focus on purpleheart wood.

 

IS IT REALLY PURPLE?

Yes! OK, sort of.  Freshly cut purpleheart wood can actually be a bit more grayish brown.  Only through oxidation does the vibrant purples of the wood come out.  In our workshop, Jason, actually uses a mini blowtorch to burn the wood to give it that eggplant color.

 

Purpleheart slab

Fresh cut purpleheart wood (grayish brown)

Bringing out the color

Jason using his mini blow torch to burn the wood to bring out the eggplant color

WHERE DOES IT ORIGINATE?

The tree is local to Central & South America.  Its scientific name is, Peltogyne. Trees, like the one below can grow to 100-170 ft (30-50 m) tall.

Purpleheart tree

Purpleheart Tree can stand as much as 170 feet tall

HOW DURABLE IS IT?

One of the great benefits of purpleheart is it resists rot and by most accounts seems immune to insects.  Not to mention it is water resistant.  It also is a particularly durable hardwood that can dull a woodworker’s tools easily.

HOW ABOUT ALLERGIES?

As with any wood, extended time breathing in sawdust is inadvisable.  Purpleheart is not commonly known to cause many allergies, but on occasion some have felt nauseous when working with it.  Once finished and sealed, these allergies are unlikely to affect you.

WHAT ARE ITS MAIN USES?

Furniture and flooring (particularly parquet floors) seem to be its biggest uses, but here in the shop we tend to make beautiful pens & pencils out of this purple wonder!

Purpleheart pen

Purpleheart and Copper Pen

Purpleheart pen

Purpleheart and gold pen

For more items like the pens you see above, check out our shop

 

Great sources for more info on all types of woods are:

http://www.wood-database.com/

http://wikipedia.org

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