Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wood of the Month: Olive Ash Burl

The term Olive Ash does not refer to any specific species of Ash (Fraxinus genus), but instead is in reference to the darker heartwood found in some Ash trees, which tends to resemble the wood of Olive trees in the Olea genus. And it should come as little surprise that Olive Ash can be a dead ringer for actual Olive, (with the exception of the porous grain structure, which gives its true identity away easily), because both Ash and Olive are placed in the same family: Oleaceae.

The dark-on-light stripes of Olive Ash are also vaguely reminiscent of Zebrawood; though interestingly enough, the darker portions of Olive Ash do not correspond to the growth rings on the tree, but are independent of them, as can be observed from the endgrain scan seen below.

Olive Ash is a sought-after veneer, as well as desired for turning blanks. Olive Ash burl in particular is a highly valued veneer for its unique colors and swirly grain patterns.which make finishing a problem since glue will seep throught these areas and bead up on the outer surface. The glue seepage problem is aggravated by the fact that the warping creates a requirement that strong uniform pressure be applied during glue curing so as to avoid an uneven final surface. For very small projects (a few square inches), I've solved the problem by laminating two or more pieces of veneer together with plastic food wrap keeping the glue from seeping onto the clamping blocks and then sanding off most of the glue seepage.

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