Who doesn’t love love a wood that is purple in it’s natural state?? Nearly every woodworker falls all over themselves to claim a board or two for a project that screams out to them when they first see that color. I love it too, but I have learned the hard way that it is a difficult wood to work, and it can be abused by bad design. And, that color does not stay that vibrant over time – turning more brown with age and sun.
But, like most other woodworkers, I look for projects that will let me use some of this wonderful wood. It seems to me that smaller projects will not be overwhelmed by the color, and really pop when the project can be displayed nicely.
This particular board was purchased at my local Woodcraft store recently. Most of this species is dense, but this wood was the hardest I have worked. I read once that there are nearly 20 different varieties of Purpleheart, which means you need to buy all your wood at one time for a project. This piece was near bloodwood hardness, and really played heck with my chisels when I worked the area for the bottom inset. Despite the hardness, it planed beautifully under a sharp blade. Because of the challenges with its hardness, it might be a while before I make another Purpleheart project.
After purchasing the wood, I knew I needed something light colored for the lid. After looking around my stock of maples, this nicely grained, slightly curly piece of hard maple looked perfect. It contains enough interest in itself, but does not ‘compete’ with the Purpleheart.
In the picture of the inside, the bottom of the box is also visible. I chose a piece of very curly soft maple for the floor of the box, and it adds a nice surprise when you look inside.
Like many of my projects, this box was built without a destination. We enjoy looking at it in different lights and angles. Someday we will give it up when the time and purpose are right.
This box was finished with a wipe-on and spray polyurethane from Minwax. Most of the box received multiple coats before being sanded and coated again. The Purpleheart was so dense that it mostly set on the surface of the wood, and took longer than the maple to dry. I finished using a 2000 grit wet/dry paper for my last pass. The top feels like glass to the fingertips.
This box measures 9 3/8 by 5 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches. Only Purpleheart and hard maple were used.