Working With Purple heart

I have a Shapeoko 4 xxl. I want to make a small tray out of some purple heart but I’ve never cut wood like this before. Are the recommended speeds and feeds in Carbide Create good for this wood? Does anyone have any recommendations, tips, or tricks when working with purple heart? Does the sun help or hinder the purple color. I keep reading conflicting information. Also, what’s the best finish to put on it to preserve the purple color.

The hardwood speeds should work as a starting point — maybe reduce the depth per pass — do a test cut in scrap first, see:

UV exposure over the long term will cause the wood to turn brown, while the initial will result in the colour which gives it its name

Use a finish with a UV inhibitor, and try to keep it out of the light.


I agree with Will. I suggest reducing the depth per pass a little because Purple Heart is a very hard wood! It’s tough on your bits and machine. I like using Rubio Monocoat Pure as a finish. Expensive but works well.


My experience with Purple Heart is that you can’t really preserve the purple color - at least, I never have been able to. Short of staining it the same color, if you just allow it to be clear stained, it will turn brown within a year or two.


Is there a way to get the color back after it turns brown do you know?

Other than cutting it again, I don’t think so


Purple heart oxides. Some wood like cherry turns darker from uv light. The best you can do is to seal it up but eventually it turns brownish. There is air trapped inside the wood. Some say putting in direct sunlight might somewhat restore the purple heart. However you might get warpage from the heat.

Purple heart is very splinter prone so round over the edges if possible. Since it is a tropical wood some get allergic reactions to the shavings and dust so wear a dust mask when sanding. Be sure to blow dust off before entering house to prevent contaminating the family and wash hands and arms right away.

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