Spice up your projects with a touch of crimson.

Want to add a splash of color to a project? Then check out these four red-hot exotics. Though pricey, they're available, at least in small sizes, from dealers in exotic hardwoods, as well as from catalogs. Consider using them for unique small projects or as accents on larger ones.

Redheart (Erythroxylon spp.) This Central American hardwood boasts a bright-red color when freshly cut that darkens to deep red over time. The wood features tight, straight grain, making it suitable for turning. It also machines well using carbide-tipped tools, but has a tendency to burn. This wood isn't the easiest to find, and usually sells as turning blanks or in sizes less than 1 board foot. Cost, in spite of the wood's relative scarcity, runs about $10 per board foot.

Chakte kok (Sickingia salvadorensis)Also often referred to as redheart, this more-widely-available wood hails from Central America as well. Its color ranges from pinkish to bright red, with streaks of purple and brown. Maintaining the wood's vivid colors requires a finish that protects against ultraviolet light, or the wood will fade to a golden tan. Common uses for chakte kok include turning, marquetry, and inlay. Again, expect to pay $10 or more per board foot.

Bloodwood (Brosimum paraense)This hard, heavy wood goes by several other names, including cardinalwood and satine. Many describe its color as strawberry red, with streaks of gold. Over time, it darkens to reddish brown. Growing in Central and South America, you may find it difficult to buy, though 1-2' pieces known as "shorts" are available. Expect to pay about $12-$15 per board foot. Bloodwood demands sharp tools and light passes, but yields high luster.

Padauk (Pterocarpus soyauxii)The most common among our crimson collection, African padauk comes in 4/4 and 8/4 thicknesses, lengths up to 8', and sells for $7-$9 per board foot. It starts out red orange, and darkens to brown over time.