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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, I hope everyone is enjoying their extra time at home. During my extended "me" time, I started looking through a stack of olive wood I cut down two years ago, and found a cross section with some very interesting markings.
Wood Tree Tree stump Trunk Plant
I decided to give it a whirl on the lathe, and got very lucky with how they dark stain came out when I made it into a goblet.
Tree
Anyone know what would cause markings like that? As I absolutely love how it comes out!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The wood is solid throughout, a little crack right in the middle. It was from a fairly "young" branch so I imagine that is why the sapwood section is so wide. All the native olive trees I've used from my garden ( in France ) have the most amazing vivid rings, just beautiful, and even better when next to the creamy sapwood.

I read that a lot of the olive wood you can buy commercially is from a slightly different variety than the trees grown for fruit, all the things I've seen for sale have much more muted rings.

I'll try and get a picture where you can see the heartwood rings inside, but the amazing bit is where that dark spot is, some disease?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've only turned a couple of pieces of olive wood, but it had those color variations in the grain. Beautiful stuff.
Out of interest, what did you finish your olive wood with?
The first things I made from it where cutting boards and knife blocks so I did some Googling and saw that walnut oil doesn't go rancid and is obviously not poisonous. So now I keep pouring on walnut oil until it starts getting absorbed more slowly, then start using a mix of walnut oil and bees wax until no more will go in.
 

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I've been using General Finishes Woodturners Finish. I wrap a piece of panty hose around a square make up sponge and apply it. Sure, I get some odd looks while I'm stocking up on supplies at the Rite Aid!

I saturate the sponge and apply while the workpiece is spinning slowly. There's something about the panty hose material that distributes the finish really evenly. It dries really quick so you can do several coats in a few hours. It builds nice gloss. I can't remember if it was the olive wood or something else, but once I had trouble getting it to cover evenly. General Finishes tech support recommended a coat of de-waxed shellac first. It worked like a champ and I'll often do that just as a preventative measure. The General Finishes Woodturners Finish is extremely clear so it's really nice to keep maple white, but for other woods, the shellac also helps pop the grain a little.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've been using General Finishes Woodturners Finish. I wrap a piece of panty hose around a square make up sponge and apply it. Sure, I get some odd looks while I'm stocking up on supplies at the Rite Aid! .
Great, thanks, I'll have a look if there is an equivalent here in France, once I'm allowed out of the house!
 

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Olive wood is great for woodturning. I have turned a lot of olive wood, mostly pens. I have seen similar colorations to the photos above. It is not that unusual. It comes in some olive wood and adds interest to turnings. Olive wood smells great when you work with it - kinda like fresh olive oil. (The problem is if you're smelling it, then sawdust is getting past your filters and your mask.)

Most of my olive wood turnings are pens made from "Bethlehem" olive wood with "Faith, Hope, Love" pen kits. We give them to religious Christians, who appreciate that the wood comes from the Holy Land and the Christian symbols in the pen kit design.

Several companies sell Bethlehem olive wood, including one calling itself "Bethlehem Olive Wood" as its company name. Sometimes the olive wood is called "Holy Land" or "Jerusalem" olive wood if it doesn't come from the Bethlehem area. I am not convinced that all "Bethlehem" olive wood actually comes from Bethlehem. It seems that they sell a lot of "Bethlehem" olive wood all over the world, and I ask myself if they have enough living trees in Bethlehem to supply the demand. No matter, it is the certificates that make the difference.

What distinguishes "Bethlehem" olive wood from ordinary olive wood is the business card style certificate that comes with the wood. Different companies have their own certificate designs. You include the certificate card with the finished project that you made. Just because the wood has a certificate means little. They are just pieces of paper. The olive wood could have come from Spain or Italy or Greece. You must trust the seller that the certificate is true. (Heck, for some special woods, I made my own certificates to include with the project.)

If you're interested in Bethlehem olive wood, I recommend choosing wood source based on which company's certificate design you like best. The wood from different companies is pretty much the same, but the certificate goes to the recipient along with the project you make from it.

Bethlehem olive wood comes in grades. Premium grades have more grain with more interesting patterns and twist, at a higher price. The ordinary grades are pretty enough that I never bother with premium grades. I stopped buying individual Bethlehem olive wood pen blanks at the store. These days, I buy the 1 pound box of pen blank cutoffs from Penn State. They are out of stock frequently, but they frequently replenish the supply:
https://www.pennstateind.com/store/WXPR01BP.html

I finish olive wood turnings with a CA finish. I do not recommend a "high gloss" CA finish on olive wood; it looks too "plasticky." With CA finishes, I polish with Micro-mesh, but with olive wood I do not use all nine Micro-mesh pads. I usually stop around the fourth pad to leave more of a matte finish. My preferred CA finish is Glu-Boost "Fill 'n' Finish."

I also use Hut Crystal Coat friction polish (not recommended). I will use it until it is gone, but won't buy it again. I like the friction polishes (basically shellac and wax in an alcohol base) because they are fast and convenient. The friction polishes look and feel great after application, but they are not as durable as CA. I may try Mylands or another brand, but won't go back to Crystal Coat, which does not yield a consistent high gloss.

Photos:
Two sides of a typical 1 pound "box" ordered from Penn State, above. It also comes with oval sticker "seals" which don't stick and are totally useless.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I think you're right Tool Agnostic that not all of the wood actually comes from Bethlehem, I read that a lot comes from Eastern Europe and Russia. Luckily I don't have to bother with any of that as I've got loads of the stuff sitting around. At my last house the previous owner had cut back the trees too far, killing the the top half of 10-15 trees. When I cut it all back and saw the amazing grain I thought it would be great to make something out of it, that's when I started woodworking again. It's amazing cutting into the wood for the first time and revealing what's inside.

I think you're also right about over shining the CA finish, my first efforts did look plasticy, and I added some pretty gaudy epoxy as well.....
 
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