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Thread: Dangers of Purple Heart Wood?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014

    Dangers of Purple Heart Wood?

    I bought 6.5 BF of purple heart to use to make a jewelry box for my wife. I was casually looking around online for info about the wood AFTER I bought it and stumbled upon this:

    “Exposure to the dust, generated by cutting and sanding purpleheart, can cause irritation and nausea, possibly due to the presence of dalbergione (neoflavonoid) compounds in the wood. This also makes purpleheart wood unsuitable to most people for use in jewelry.”

    It looks like there is cause for concern when jewelry is made from it but I wonder how this would effect my wife’s jewelry that she places in the box?

    Those who have worked with it before, what has been your experience?

    In arte voluptas - in der Kunst liegt Vergnügen - in art lies enjoyment

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Oak Harbor Washington on Whidbey Island
    I would think if you used a lining or flocked it it should be ok.
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri
    As Bart said, should be fine if you line the areas for jewelry, but all depends on a person's sensitivity.

    Here is a toxicity chart:

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Vancouver Island, Courtenay/Comox Valley, British Columbia
    I have a lot of allergies/sensitivites, but as long as there is some kind of "finish" on the wood, I wouldn't worry about. I'd be happy to use a purpleheart jewelry box.
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
    How much dust will the items she puts in the box be exposed to, after the box is finished?

    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    A lot of South American woods have higher levels of toxicity than what we may be used to in NA. The rosewoods especially are fairly high. As said, use normal caution and finish the wood.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Cape Cod, Ma.
    mahogany is another wood famous for causing irritation
    He who laughs last, thinks slowest

  8. #8

    Re: Dangers of Purple Heart Wood?

    Sanding Padauk made my nose burn... And it stains everything.

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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Reno, Nv
    Any wood can cause irritation, some more than others and with varying levels of exposure. I have a "jewelry" box made from PH and walnut, felt liner. Never an issue, but everyone is different. Some of the more common allergy woods are anything from the rosewood family and many walnut varities. Of course, YMMV and not everyone is subject to getting everything or anything.
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Thanks for all the replies. I feel much better about working with this beautiful wood. I've done most of my drawings (by hand of course) and hope to start breaking down the pieces this weekend. I will do my best do document the process with photos and can post them after the holidays.

    One other thing!

    My son is coming home on leave for Christmas from overseas! So excited. I have a bunch of boxes that I was getting ready to ship off to a boutique for the holiday shopping but decided to keep them for now and let him have "first pick" of the lot. THAT is one of the true joys of woodworking for me.

    In arte voluptas - in der Kunst liegt Vergnügen - in art lies enjoyment

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