The purfling is an inlaid band of three strips of wood, colored black, white, black. Its function is decorative, highlighting the edge of the instrument, but also functional, helping to prevent the top from cracking near the edges. All kinds of woods have been used for the purfling, they usually have a smooth , non-porous texture. The “blacks” are usually a harder wood that cuts cleanly to form a crisp miter in the corners of the violin. The “whites” are sometimes of a softer wood that can be compressed to fit into an unevenly cut channel. The blacks are nearly always dyed though sometimes ebony has been used.
Mike center provided me with some box elder which has a light color and texture without large pores. and a nice reflectivity. He tells me that it takes dye well so it will serve for both the blacks and the whites of the purfling.