#102: Bethlehem Olive

Bird number: 135 & 136
Date: October 20, 2013
Wood: Olive (Olea europaea)
Source: Woodcraft store

Debra and I were in the Woodcraft store last year right before Christmas, and saw that they had a bunch of Bethlehem Olive turning blanks. I’d already carved an olive bird, but these blanks were from a burl, and Debra really liked the way it looked. So we bought it.

The piece was a little narrow for my standard sized bird, so I carved two smaller birds from it. The idea was to keep one for the collection and donate one to a charity auction. But Debra couldn’t decide which one she liked best. So I decided to make them the Olive twins.

They turned out really nice.

I learned a couple of new bandsaw techniques when working with this piece. See my blog, Bandsaw tricks (link is to an archived version of my blog post), for the details.

#101: Plum

Bird number: 134
Date: October 20, 2013
Wood: Plum (Prunus)
Source: Friend from California

Who says that I have to stop at 100? I’ve decided that I’ll continue to add to the collection if I run across a new type of wood, or a piece that’s in some way special. I don’t have a particular goal for the number of species I eventually want to carve.

It’s unlikely that I’ll know exactly which species of Plum this is, but it doesn’t really matter. Plum is a member of the genus Plumus, which includes cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, and almonds. I’ve carved cherry and apricot already, and the plum is very similar: medium hard, cuts well, nice grain. Oddly, I don’t recall there being a particular odor when I cut or sanded this piece. Both cherry and apricot have very pleasant odors.

Pleasant odor or not, it sure is pretty wood.

One of the nice things about getting wood from friends or finding it lying around is that I get very interesting pieces. The log Jim sent to me was about four inches in diameter and had a couple of knots where limbs had been growing. That made for some twisty grain patterns and color variations. I don’t normally find that kind of thing in wood obtained commercially, which usually has a more consistent grain and coloration.

In the past I’ve done the rough carving and initial sanding with the Foredom power carver and then finished sanding by hand. Over the last six months or so, I’ve learned to use the cushion sander, and I’ve found that I can use that to do all my sanding with power. Sanding goes faster that way, and I’m still able to do a good job. I just have to be careful with the speed because the power sander can take wood off a whole lot faster than I could by hand.

Lovely stuff, the plum. I should make it a point to search out and carve other fruit woods. So far, all of them have been really nice.