I have a project with part of one board which will not turn purple:
The layer with the routed compartment below the lid, on the left side
it is still very brown, it is getting purple in the middle of the
compartment and quite purple on the right hand side of the box.
The box has been air exposed for a number of months now and is NOT
purple when sanded or cut. The particular purpleheart I purchased is
brown first then oxidizes to purple. Except this part of one piece.
What other methods are known to transition purpleheart. I've tried
sun exposing a scrap piece of the same brown source wood, it will not
turn either. I'm about to put the whole thing in the oven, has anyone
baked purpleheart purple yet?
Just to show all purpleheart is not created equal, two turned brown,
one much less so, tape to show the difference.
Does someone have a forest service expert for a relative?
On 18 May 2004 19:03:27 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (Alan W)
have you tried any chemical approaches? I don't know the chemistry of
purple heart turning purple, but lots of woods respond to alkali and
acid by changing color. I'd start with a paste of baking soda, rubbing
it on a scrap....
On Tue, 18 May 2004 20:18:01 -0700, email@example.com posted:
That's an interesting tack.
Some of those colours act as "indicators" changing colour with
different pHs and also with oxidation or reduction.
You could try the baking soda for the alkaline, and then maybe vinegar
or lemon juice for an acid treatment.
Then to oxidise, you could try household bleach, and to reduce, some
oxalic acid solution (caution -- toxic). You could also try these in
acid and alkaline conditions. Ammonia might also be interesting.
I've got a bottle of haematoxylin which is the extract of some South
American tree that I can't quite name at the moment.
It is reddish in acid environment and bluish purple in alkaline IIRC
from 40 years ago. I am going to experiment with that on some bland
boring wood sometime. I have a 12' x 14" poplar log drying in the shed
at the moment that might be interesting to try things on.
I just scored a street-tree log that was hollow and met the
chain-saw-and-chipper-brigade this morning. It has some very
interesting grain patterns next to the hollow section. It will be
interesting to split it in a few years and run it over the jointah.
Oh, its a London Plane BTW.
I have some rosewood and other stains that are excellent for colour
matching my jarrah when needed.
I also intend to experiment with strong black tea on piney wood.
I've tried the other solvent-based stains with rather poor results,
being rather blotchy. Piney wood can be a real challenge at times, but
when a clear length has those straight grains close together, it is
stronger than steel, weight for weight.
The best wooddorking book I ever read from cover to cover was George
Frank's Adventures in Wood Finishing. I see there is a new edition out
with Bruce Hoadly. Now that seems a must read for those interested in
the science of wood finishing :)
a quick experiment today with Sandy's recommendations:
Baking soda paste
turns the qood VERY brown, dark like it was aged
Lemon juice, difinent color change from the brown, more of an orange
Vinegar (white distilled) no change whatso ever
I haven't received this message in full, just what Dan quoted.
That's interesting that lemon juice had an effect, but vinegar didn't,
indicating that perhaps it is not a pH colour change but something
specific to the lemon juice. Now lemon juice has vitamin C in it
(ascorbic acid which is a reducing agent as well).
I would be very interested in the effect of oxalic acid (a strong
reducing agent) on the wood.
And then perhaps oxalic acid and lemon juice and another test with
oxalic acid (COOH)2 and baking soda. The purple may in fact be
something that we won't be able to control. Does Hoadley ever mention
this wood in his learned tomes? Perhaps one of you guys could email
him and ask. In a lab I once worked in in a previous life we sometimes
"washed out" stains with "acid alcohol" which was just alcohol
(methylated spirit, denatured ethanol or ?rubbing alcohol) with a few
drops of hydrochloric acid in it. Wouldn't it be great if you guys
with access to purple heart could wash the stain out of scrap and
either apply it or sell it? :)
BTW, oxalic acid might be obtainable as a radiator cleaner, and it is
toxic. Talking of toxic, I wonder what the toxic potassium dichromate,
a powerful oxidising agent, might do to this interesting wood. It has
some pleasant effects on other woods, IIRC.
I've never used Oxalic acid, but could you use a paste of "Bar Keepers
Friend" as a less toxic application of it? It's main ingredient is
Oxalic acid 10% and is only a couple of bucks at wal-mart. MSDS:
Just a thought,
On 20 May 2004 08:36:52 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (Jay) posted:
Can't see why not, if that's what's in it.
Looks like there is detergent and perhaps a scourer.
I'd try to dissolve the stuff and let any insoluble stuff settle out
and use the clear solution.
The detergent should wash away, but will help the oxalic acid
penetrate the wood. Give it a try, if it doesn't do anything to the
wood, you have a good bath cleaner :)
It's also pretty nasty stuff and hard to dispose of safely.
Oddly enough, folks who use "natural dyes" because they're
environmentally safe, soak their wool in all kinds of very
toxic "mordants" in order to prepare them for taking and
holding "natural" dye. Sulfuric acid and a Potassium Dichromate
solution were just two of the things I found after divorcing
a "natural" spinner, dyer, weaver. The garbage bags of
onion skins, crushed walnut shells and bard and rotting
flowers were much easier to safely dispose of.
Unless you know what you're doing and how you're going to
safely dispose of chemicals - leave them alone - please.
Hopefully, most people will keep the label attached and already
know about the thousands of hazardous waste facilities in this
country which accept it freely. Alternatively, the guys could
recycle the chemicals to the rest of us Wreckers. Just ask!
I'm looking for some fuming ammonia right now.
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I was at a lumberyard yesterday for my first time. I noticed that they had
tons of exotic woods, one being a 7 foot board of ebony. As I fondled it,
the owner walked by and said, "I'll let you know that is a $700 piece of
wood you are handling." - Wow!
I did ask if they had any purpleheart as I have been following this thread.
They went and showed me a nice specimen. I also mentioned the dilemma of
getting the wood to go purple and their response was to simply flame it. I
think you have tried this? Their explanation was that flaming it would kill
all the white pigment in the cells. Then it would turn purple.
On another note, I happened to look around at more of the exotic woods.
They showed me a nice bright red, bloodwood? I was quite intrigued with the
lacewood, I thought it looked a lot like a cheetah. I can't wait to get
good enough in my woodworking to be able to use such nice woods.
Good luck with the purpleheart!
You should use some of the cheaper exotics in your woodworking now. I'm
only a beginner but I find it inspiring to see the beauty in some of the
small pieces I make, using things like Lacewood, Birdseye Maple or Jatoba.
Also, the beautiful wood helps to make people miss any flaws in joinery or
finish, as long as they aren't too big!!!
Alan: I posted your question over on rec.sport.billiard which I frequent,
and which has several cue makers who are familiar with purpleheart wood.
These are the responses received today. All of the posts below except the
last one were written before I posted your original post with the pics and
all. You may get other responses so you might want to check out that
I believe the sun is what causes the browning. I think a light sanding
and refinishing would be best. Use some finish that shield UV rays.
It is the sun that caused the color change to start. When PH is exposed to
UV, the nice color goes away. Depending on how badly the color has gone, a
light sanding 'might' bring back some of the color. As a last resort, go to
the art store and buy some pigment the same color as the good PH. Mix with
clear oil and apply very very very very very thin layers, wait until each
layer dries (about a day), and apply until happy with the color. This
technique is called glazing. But again, only a last resort because it is
easy to screw up.
Sometimes that can be a tough one depending on the wood quality.
I have had Purple Heart wood that turned brown and some that stayed a bright
purple from start to finish.
About the only other thing he might try is heat.
I use a hot air gun (no jokes please <g>) sometimes to deepen the purple
I dont know about chemicals as the only methods I have used are hot air
and/or time under a florescent light.
In response to Adam's post:
This is the first I have heard of such a wood. Normally it is the
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