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Purple Heart

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  • Purple Heart

    I have been power planing some purple heart. The planer seems to be ripping some pits into the surface of the wood. I thought it might be due to feed direction, but it seems to be bad in either direction.

    I dont think it is planer related cuz the hard maple I planed at the same time was fine, and previous purple heart I have planed has not been a problem.

    What could the problem be? Moisture content? I also noticed that this heart isnt nearly as purple as what I have used in the past. Not sure if this is related.

    Virg.
    Last edited by thevirg; 05-08-2008, 08:21 PM. Reason: I messed up the title

  • #2
    Re: Purple Heart

    Does the purple heart have some odd grain direction changes? I've noticed that anything I plane that has weird grain will have that kind of snipe in it. You might want to take some time and go over those boards with a hand plane and see what the grain's doing. I find hand planing will give me a good idea of the grain of a board. If it's really wild grain, I'll just keep using the hand plane and then put it through the drum sander to level it. If you don't have a drum sander, or access to one, a hand plane is your friend. The larger the sole (bottom) the better for this task. There are specific planes made for thickness and leveling, but they're way pricey. You can also use a belt sander, but it takes a very careful hand with this unwieldy tool. Put an aggressive grit on the sander and make your passes evenly. Since this is just for thickness and leveling, you can go across the grain with the belt sander. Just make sure your passes are even. Don't stop the sander until you've reached the end of the pass. It's a tricky process, and I have never been happy with the outcome, but others have met with success with this method.
    I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

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    • #3
      Re: Purple Heart

      Not sure about your grain tear out problem but give it a couple days and your Purple heart will return to its original color. Put it in the sun and the color will return more rapidly. You can change the color of the wood by heating it. It will turn a very dark purple with added heat. From experience MAAP gas is too hot to control the color change well. When I turn pens from Purple Heart I fold a paper bag into a small, about 1/4 ", strip and with the lathe spinning I hold the bag strip against the blank to change the color or add decorative stripes. I finish them with CA because the grain is so open.

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      • #4
        Re: Purple Heart

        Thanks for the responses guys.

        So it sounds like it might be wierd grain Im dealing with then. I was trying to read the grain direction when i was feeding it but without much luck.

        Ive yet to purchase a hand plane, but I have been looking at them. Hopefully some day soon.

        The heating idea to bring out the color sounds interesting. Could I just put a finished piece in the oven?


        Virg.

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        • #5
          Re: Purple Heart

          I'm not sure if an oven would work. You could try it at the lowest setting and use a test piece. Monitor it to see if it changes the color. It would be subtle, and would take at least an hour and probably more. Might not be worth the electricity/gas, though!
          I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

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          • #6
            Re: Purple Heart

            I don't know about the oven but it sounds like a good idea. More control over heat. Fun to try. I just tried a piece 1X3/8X5 inches in the microwave. Heated 15, 10,10,10,10 seconds and checked between each time. The piece was so hot I couldn't handle it comfortably. No discernable change in color. I am reluctant to try again because a couple years ago I tried to dry a wet newspaper in the thing and the paper caught on fire. My wife thought it was funny but I didn't because I was worried I would have to pop for another mocrowave. Fortunately the thing worked fine after the incident.

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            • #7
              Re: Purple Heart

              just a little note on hand planes. I have found that garage/estate sales and a 1/4" sheet of glass with some sandpaper can get you some pretty nice planes. do an internet search on tuning up old planes. At least that way you don't have to break the bank.

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              • #8
                Re: Purple Heart

                I'm also working on a project with purple heart, the guys at Woodcraft told me the same thing about setting it in the sun to darken the color. As far as the oven goes, here's some information I found: http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/person...urpleheart.htm.

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                • #9
                  Re: Purple Heart

                  I'm on the other end of the purpleheart darkening spectrum - is there a good way to keep it from turning dark?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Purple Heart

                    The guys at Woodcraft led me to believe that the color of the wood would lighten up naturally over time as long as it was kept out of the direct sunlight.

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