Who has cut purple heart?

Just picked up a small pc of purple heart to play with. 1 project I’d like to do is a small box, so fairly deep pocket cut and I’d like to use some for inlays. Need typical noob info. Speeds, feeds and cutter? Do I need to worry about bits getting hot like when cutting alum? Any info is very appreciated. It’s pricey stuff don’t really want to waste it by screwing up. Thanks

I’ve cut a lot of purpleheart in 1/4" thickness. I call it the “devil wood”, because it is wierd. :smiley:

Take thin cuts and go slow, but not so slow you burn it. I settled on 0.025" with feeds from 30 to 50. Having said that, the devil pops in there and provides a spot that will burn no matter what speed you use. Now, I call it a “feature.”

It will bend your bit if you’re trying to get a precise fit, like in a half-lap slot that I make. I’ve learned to sneak up on places where I need two pieces to fit together.

And then there’s those sharp or acute corners that pieces will chip out of. :smiley:

I only finish with mineral oil. That deepens the darkness, but it will not keep getting dark.

What really looks good is an inlay accent of a white plastic or maple wood.


I did a Purple Heart wood heart shaped box for my brothers Purple Heart medal from Vietnam. I used the 1/4” cutter that came with my xxl.


Sounds like I’m going to have some fun with this stuff. Thanks for the info. Much appreciate it.

It is super dense so make sure you use a sharp bit and take lighter passes.


FYI: Purple Heart doesn’t stay purple forever…it turns brown over time. Unless you’re staining the color, it’s going to change (even a clear stain won’t hold it)…

Just letting you know


I’m finding that out…as I was prepping my purple heart I noticed a huge difference between the “purple” in two cuts…one looks…“almost brown” go figure…I didn’t know that…

Yeah, when purple heart is first cut it turns brown. Take it outside and let it set in the sun for a while. It’ll turn back purple.


I have fixed “brown” areas where boards had been irregularly exposed. I just kept turning them over and around under florescent lamps. The color evens out nicely.

My projects have been indoor (even mostly darkened room) projects, so I haven’t had any complaints about any of them turning “brown” over time. I have warned folks about leaving them in a car or such other exposure.


Remember with all exotics to wear a breathing mask. Before going back in your house be sure to clean up. I go outside and use a leaf blower to clean off saw dust. Some people do not show allergy at first but repeated exposure can cause allergic reaction. So protect your family when you go indoors. Take care with all exotics and tropical hardwoods.


Excellent point, which cannot be stressed strongly enough.

A notable example is John Economaki who had to totally reinvent his company and his tool-making after being hospitalized for an allergy to rosewood:

Just bought the Palm Brace PB-2 and hoping it works well w/ the small Japanese hand drill bits and a set of countersinks I got from Lee Valley ages ago.


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