California produces more than 95% of the olives grown in the United States, but the fruit of these amazing trees isn’t the only prize they yield. Praised worldwide for their contribution to the Mediterranean diet, Olive trees have also captured the hearts of the woodworking community — for their wood.
Typically small, curvy trees lacking large or thick trunks, Olive trees mostly produce smaller live edge slabs. In fact, due to the species’ twisted branching and growth tendencies, it produces almost no long straight lumber, and only smaller sized slabs.
Fortunately, those Olive slabs make the short list of the most attractive live edge slabs you’ll ever see. Known for its swirling grain patterns and fluid palette of golden brown colors, Olive wood is characterized by its warm, nutty brown heartwood that’s interlaced with multiple veins of other darker brown or black streaks. The overall effect is a fantastic visual tapestry that more than makes up for the typical slab’s smaller stature.
While GL Veneer has built a sizable reputation for the massive live edge slabs we carry, our inventory has a few collections of smaller, more low-cost slabs as well. Including our amazing live edge Olive slabs. And rest assured, almost all of our Olive slabs are sourced from Olive trees that are only harvested after they’re too old to produce fruit or have been damaged by disease or natural effects.
While the heartwood of the Olive tree ranges from a creamy or yellowish brown color with darker brown or black streaks, the clearly demarcated sapwood is a lighter creamy yellow hue. Combined the overall color tends to deepen with age.
The grain can be straight, interlocked, or wild, and feature a curly, wavy, or burled pattern. It has a fine, uniform texture with moderate, natural luster.
Olive wood is somewhat easy to work — it turns superbly, and glues and finishes well. That said, it’s wild or interlocked grain may result in tearout during surfacing operations. It also has high movement in service and is considered to have poor stability.