When we first started making wooden dice boxes, purple heart grabbed our attention right away. It’s this rich, royal purple that doesn’t look like it’s from this planet. You could wear a cape made out of it.
It’s a good thing it’s so attractive, because that wood is one of the most vindictive things I’ve worked with ever. Where to start?
Splinters – Purpleheart will actively try to cut you. It like an irresponsible child in me who was never allowed to have a knife (_for good reason_) who now indiscriminately stabs everyone who touches it. It’s like those impractically spiky armors you see in museums or in my childhood drawings of super knights. Basically I’ve never touched purpleheart and not walked away with a few “friendly souvenirs” lodged in my skin.
The Name – Everything about purpleheart’s name is deception! If your heart is, in fact, purple, you’re in trouble. I think. Most hearts I’ve seen are red, or reddish, anyway. And shaped kind of like a lumpy, squirming blob. Purpleheart looks _nothing_ like that. In fact, I’ve performed a rigorous thought experiment and if you replaced your actual red, squirming heart with purpleheart, you would fail your next EKG.
[Quentin here – I’m butting into Dan’s blog post :D]
After we mill/sand/cut purpleheart (also known as Peltogyne), we leave it out to oxidize for some time so that it can develop it’s true purple color. Many people may tell you not to leave your purpleheart out or else it will dull in color, but that is only sort-of true. The purple color will break down over time if left in sunlight or other UV sources, but this is fairly true of most woods (and plastics and cloths and, well, just about everything…)
Hard headed – It’s lovely that purpleheart is so tough. You could build a house out of the stuff (I guess?). Certainly I understand why large trees use it; quite supportive, that stuff is. Good choice, trees! It’s super dense which makes finished products lovely and nigh-eternal, but it _also_ means that it destroys woodworking tools. We go through twice as many end mills and sanding supplies and saws when we work with it. It’s a professional tool duller.
Sappy – Purpleheart is incredibly sappy. Like, literally full of sap. When it’s distributed through the wood you can’t really tell, but when you start to machine it or sand it, the sap deepens and comes out, and sometimes (slash reliably) it even starts to burn. This contributes to destroying the tools even faster; you can actually see smoke and charred bits of wood flying about when we machine the stuff if we go even a little outside of the optimal speeds and such. The tools look like purple-encrusted 100 year-old rusty/barnacle-adorned pier pilings.
Next time I’m going to whinge about the aromatic cedar ^_^