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PURPLE HEART

Peltogyne paniculata

THE TIMBER:
Purpleheart sapwood is pinkish-cinnamon with a light brown streaks and is from 2 to 4 inches wide in mature trees. The heartwood is a dull brown color when freshly cut but oxidizes to a violet purple color when exposed to light. When exposed to sun and rain, the purple color will become black. Luster is medium, and the straight-grained wood is fine and even in texture. The odor and taste are not distinct. It is hard and heavy. The mechanical properties of purpleheart are intermediate between those of greenheart and oak. One outstanding property of the wood is its ability to withstand sudden shock.

WORKABILITY:
Purpleheart must be worked slowly through machines and all cutter tools must be of high-speed steel to produce fine cabinetwork. Some tearing occurs when planing when the grain is interlocked. The wood has a tendency to split when nailed. Most finishes can be used satisfactorily, but to preserve the rich natural color wax is often the only coating applied. The wood is dimensionally stable.

USES:
Because of its good mechanical properties and durability, purpleheart is used for heavy outdoor construction such as bridges and dock work. It is reported to have good acid resistance and can be used in chemical plants for vats and filter press plates. As a flooring material, it has excellent abrasion resistance. An important use in Brazil is for making spokes for cartwheels. When exported, its biggest use is for billiard cure butts. Other uses in the U.S. include decorative veneer, inlay, marquetry, tool handles and general cabinetry. A dye produced from the wood is used for textile fabrics.

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