American Woodworker A February

As a young lad interested in cabi-netmaking, I used to visit Old Tony's cabinet shop just to t watch the gruff, 1 cigar-smoking old craftsman work. One day, while sweeping the floor, I came across a most remarkable piece of wood. Its undulating fiddleback figure was a gorgeous violet hue, tinged with shades of blue. "It's amaranth,n Old Tony said, looking up from his work, "you can have it." Later, I learned the wood's common name: purplchcart.

I've treasured that piece of wood for more than 30 years. It was the crown jewel in what was to become my collection of hundreds of unusual woods.

Purplchcart grows in Mcxico, Central Amcrica and in the northern countries of South America. The tree commonly reaches heights of 100 to 125 ft., with

Purpleheart by Paul McClure diameters up to 4 ft. The trunk is often clear of branches up to 50 ft., providing long lengths of knot-free lumber.


The heartwood of purpleheart is a rich violet which turns, over time, to a brownish purple. When exposed to weather, the wood turns gray and even black. The sharply demarcated sapwood ranges in color from white to pink with tan streaks and is almost always removed in the country of origin before shipping. The grain, which can be either straight or wavy, is often interlocked, making planing difficult. The wood has a fine, even texture with very small pores.


Purplchcart is heavy and dense and requires sharp cuttcrs and knives. The wood blunts cutting edges quickly, so using carbide tools is highly recommended. It's best to feed the lumber

Wood Working 101

Wood Working 101

Have you ever wanted to begin woodworking at home? Woodworking can be a fun, yet dangerous experience if not performed properly. In The Art of Woodworking Beginners Guide, we will show you how to choose everything from saws to hand tools and how to use them properly to avoid ending up in the ER.

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