Olivewood (Olea europea)
Trade Names: Olive, Genuine Olive
Origin: Olivetree is one of the oldest cultigen in the world. As its cultivation had already started in prehistoric times, it is not possible any more to reconstruct the borders of its natural growing range. In principle though, the Mediterranean area can be seen as the area in question.
Range: Found in the entire Mediterranean area. Most of the time, Olivetrees do not grow straight and are knotty. They can reach a height up to 20 m in the south, whereas they stay smaller in the northern parts. Consequently, usable lengths of more than 1 meter are very rarely to be found.
Uses: Usually, the very decorative Olivewood is used for arts and crafts. In Spain and Italy, local importance for the veneer industry in lengths up to 1 m, i.e. mainly used for inlays and occasional furniture there. Veneer lengths exceeding 220 cm are extremely rare and consequently expensive. These are only used for decorative interior work.
Properties: The wood is of a yellowish basic shade and is extremely decorative due to fine dark veins spreading irregularly over the surface, thus creating a beautiful effect when larger surfaces are concerned. Frequent checking, however, extremely complicates the manufacturing process of this wood.
Machining: Difficult, due to the frequent irregular direction of fiber growth and the extreme hardness of the wood.
Seasoning: Very problematic due to frequent checking and cell collapse. Must be dried very slowly.