With the last delivery of wood, a beautiful olive board arrived. I have never had the opportunity to work with this wood both in the production of furniture or carving. Only sometimes in shops I saw different cutting boards or containers for spices made of olive wood.

So, guided by curiosity, as in the case of briar – we also ordered some olive wood. You would ask: how it is to sculpt in olive wood?

I will tell you honestly: that’s not what I’ve expected 😉


Wasp (2018), olive wood, work in progress

From the generally available descriptions of wood it follows: it is medium-lasting, dense, hard, easy to polish, quite difficult to cut, suitable for machining with all types of tools. It has a large number of natural oils, which gives a “greasy” impression.

I would like to emphasize that for the first time in my life I tried to sculpt in olive wood and that’s my fresh feelings after. First of all, the wood has incredibly many hidden knots. Sometimes even on a thickness of 2/3mm an unannounced knot can appear. Most are very small and sometimes difficult to see. They are most often found in groups. I also came across large fragments of hardened resin (my chisels were badly damaged). Such amount of knots has its pros and cons.

It will be positive that the board itself becomes extremely colorful and unparalleled. On the minus: there is an unpredictable grain. Sometimes, although I cut in the right direction, it turns out that 1mm under – the rings are already the other way. It’s easy to mistake for a large amount of material.

Secondly, despite the fact that in wood you work a bit like in walnut wood, in winter growths, so-called heartwood is relatively hard, but very bright fragments of summer increments are not. If visually it creates a unique pattern for us, it is very annoying when carving because the chisel just collapses with a strong thrust.

Thirdly, the wood is stretching and difficult to cut vertically. Maybe my rather negative feelings result from the fact that I started with a bas-relief and in this case, most of the cuts are, however, vertical. Sculpting would be easier and easier in the case of a full sculpture where you can just cut a wood with knife. In relief, unfortunately, a large number of knots and quite thick and hard wood ends with bends at the ends of the chisels.

The only thing left is patient slow scraping with a sharp chisel 😉 Not the best option for my choleric character. From pleasant things, let me tell you that once you scrape the wood slowly, with small pieces this work is a bit like working in very hard butter. Nice experience. The fragrance itself is also very pleasant, oriental, OLIVE 😀

Summarizing: I certainly do not regret that I tried because it was an interesting experience but I will come back to the olive wood in old age when my temperament will ease and I will have more patience for olive.

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