WOOD ID POSTER:
co-created by, and sponsored by, HobbitHouse


240 woods on a poster (24"x36")


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OLIVE

Olea europaea (also widely spelled as "europa")

Olea europaea of the family Oleaceae

Variously called (and listed on this page as) Mediteranean olive, European olive, Spanish olive, Italian olive, etc, depending on the locale of origin, this is a very attractive and expensive wood used primarily for ornamental items because the small size of the tree limits production and also because in Italy and Greece, if you threaten the source of olive oil with a chainsaw, several large men will come and hurt you. It also grows in California and is sometimes sold as California olive.

Although I STARTED this page with only Olea europaea, it now contains other varieties, which maybe someday I'll get off onto pages of their own, but unless specifically stated, the woods on this page are Olea europaea (but listed under the various names discussed above). ALSO, there is a whole 'nother genus (Osmanthus) that will be included here if I encounter any, since it too is all olive species.

Olive varieties (and this is NOT an exhaustive list) that may be represented on this page if I encounter them: "Russian olive" (Elaeagnus spp.) is not an olive as is listed on its own page on this site.

All of the true olivewoods, by my own limited experience which agrees with numerous comments I've seen posted on woodworking forums, are a pleasure to turn and work well with hand and power tools, BUT ... they are oily and absorb atmospheric moisture readily once seasoned despite the initial oiliness, and even worse, they are VERY prone to hairline cracks that often can't even be seen until a finish is applied. Because of the oiliness, polyurethane will not adhere well to this wood unless you use a couple of sealing coats of DEWAXED shellac.



my samples:


both sides of a sample plank of French olive / Olea europea --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

A NOTE ABOUT THE FOLLOWING 3 SETS: these 3 small slabs were all obtained in an odd-lot box of cutoffs and are unseasoned. They are very heavy and are full of water and as you can see, they are all flawed by cracks. On each, I have medium-fine sanded several surfaces, including one end (the end that the end grain closeup pic is taken from) and these pics show all 6 surfaces and an end grain closeup for each slab. You can, in each case, see that the end that has been medium-fine sanded appears darker than the other end, which is a typical result of smoothing a surface on most woods (the color appears to deepen because there are fewer light-reflecting edges on a smoother surface).



set 1



set 2



set 3


a small thin plank with a knothole but very nice figure, and the same plank moistened with water.


a set of small planks and one of them moistened with water.


an endgrain slab, a portion of which (at the right rear) has separated off. The larger portion is medium sanded and the smaller piece is untouched


three small planks, medium-sanded surfaces in the first shot and then the other, unsanded side in the next shot. Notice the patina on the unsanded sides.


small plank


side grain closeup and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


some small planks and an end grain shot of the set


end grain closeup of one of the three small planks above


side grain closeup and end grain closeup of another of the small planks above


HIGH GRIT END GRAIN CLOSEUP from directly above


side grain closeup and end grain closeup of another of the small planks above


both sides of a sample plank




end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


face grain closeup of the piece directly above showing nice little ray flakes


plank and stick and end grain of the plank


end grain closeup of the plank directly above


stubby turning stock


end grain closeup of the piece directly above


side grain closeup of the piece directly above


sticks


small chunk, very rough sanded


both sides of a sample plank of holly-leafed olive (presumably Osmanthus ilicifolia, although it was not identified specifically as such)


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


Corsican olive contributed to the site by Iain Rankin, whom I thank for this and other contributions. This is the same as "Mediteranean" or "Italian" olive. Iain send me the piece and also a pic that he took. Must be that his pic was when it was freshly cut and then it sat around, then he send it to me and I let it sit around, THEN I took my pic and by then it had oxidized considerably. The apparent stretching of his pic relative to mine is because the face is slanted and we used different angles.


a small piece and end grain closeup, also Corsican olive contributed by Iain Rankin.


tropical olive veneer --- the pic makes the wood look just a little more rich than is actually the case. NOTE: I'm not clear that this is actually "olive" as opposed to an unrealted species that has olive in its name.


veneer --- the dark areas actually have a green tint that doesn't show up here; the true color is more like that of the piece directly below.


another veneer sheet from a different lot --- color is very accurate


veneer sheet and closeup --- this was sold to me as just "olive veneeer" but it obviously curly.



web pics:


tree sections, the top of a stump, and a couple of log end grain shots


log ends moistened for the pics


slab --- I'm not sure if the washed out color is correct or not, but I assume not.


slabs


three views of a slab


two views of a slab


planks and turning stock listed as olive / Olea Europaea (or Europa)


plank and closeup listed as Mediterannean olive / Olea europa


plank and closeup listed as Mediterannean olive / Olea europa


plank and closeup listed as Mediterannean olive / Olea europa


slab and planks listed as Mediteranean olive / Olea europa


planks


plank with a pretty unlikely color


flat cut and quartersawn planks


planks and slabs listed as Italian olive


plank


bowl blanks


both sides and one end of a bowl blank


turning stock


a turning block and both ends


two sides and both ends of a turning block


turning stock of European olive / Oleo europa grown in California and sold as California olive


pen blanks


turning/carving block


knife handle scales


veneer --- the last 3 pics are from the same lot as my own samples above so I can state definitely that these pics show both the light and dark areas as too green --- they are actually more tan, like my own samples at the top of the page.


veneer --- I asked the vendor whether or not the colors on these pics were accurate or if the wood was in fact green and yellow, and he said it was green and yellow and did not look at all like the pics in terms of color. I'm sure it's just like the green one directly above.


veneer, all from the vendor that has the colors wrong. These sheets are actually green and tan, but at least the pics show the wide variety of grain, including some figured (curly) pieces what I have not seen elsewhere


veneer sheet closeups with both levels of enlargement --- these are all from the vendor that has the colors wrong. These sheets are green and tan


African olive planks


planks listed as African olive / Olea hochstetteri


African olive turning stock


turning stock listed as African olive / Olea hochstetteri


African olive figured turning stock


African olive, waxed


three pics of the same piece of California olive


three pics of the same piece of California olive


California olive


mexican olive



NOTE: this section of "tropical olive" may in fact be an unrelated wood that is not actually an olive variety but just has "olive" in its name. To me it looks much more like paldao than olive, but for now I'm putting it here since it's listed as olive and I don't yet know what else it might be.


tropical olive planks


tropical veneer --- none of this was listed as figured, but some of it obviously is


figured tropical veneer


listed as curly tropical olive veneer and closeup


quartersawn tropical olive veneer



plank listed as European olive / Olea Europaea


European olive turning stock all from the same vendor


European olive turning stock


European olive turning stock end grain


Italian olive plank with wet and dry sections


Italian olive plank, mositened but still dry on the right end


Italian olive planks


Italian olive pen blanks moistened for the pic


mediterranean olive


Spanish olive slab


mediterranean olive turning stock and closeup




turning stock listed as wild olive / Olea macrocarpa


veneer listed as Tasmanian olive


crotch





knife handle


peppermill


jugs made from olive


slabs and a bowl


bowl and closeup


bowls


bowl by Bryan Nelson (NelsonWood). Bryan fine-polishes his bowls with 1200 or even higher grit sandpaper while they are spinning at high speed on the lathe and then finishes them there with a friction polish of his own devising, thus achieving a shine and color vibrancy that is beautiful to behold.


vases by Kathy Marshall


wild olive vase


bowls by Steve Earlis


12" diameter Italian olive bowl by Steve Earis and the blank it was turned from. The biggest enlargement on this one is larger than life, so you can REALLY see the grain. My thanks to Steve for this and other contributions to the site. \


pen and blank listed as bethlehem olive


turned pen by my friend Philip Passintino


flooring --- don't know if the washed out color is an artifact of the pic or if the wood was bleached or otherwise treated.


flooring