Woodworking Artist Johnny {J W} Morlan's Innovative Woodworker Column


Wood Photos Are Of Actual
Pieces From My Wood Collection

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All pieces are coated with a clear marine grade polyurethane spar varnish that is impervious to most liquids including body oils and some mild acids. It also has ultraviolet inhibitors in it to repel the suns UV rays.

I started this column because of my desire to share my woodworking experiences and to teach and help people become better woodworkers. I have more than 20 years of experience working with wood and have worked more than 350 different species of wood. I normally keep more than 125 species in stock.

I have studied hundreds of woodworking magazine articles and more than 230 books on woodworking by as many as 190 authors. In addition I have studied numerous books and magazine articles on art, business, marketing, advertising and webmastering. I consult with both individuals and companies {World Tree Technologies, Impact Group New York, & B. K. Brown Designs} on the best wood, procedures and finishing techniques to use in the production of their wooden projects or products and how to advertise their products.

Some of my creations have been bought by or given as presents to professional people, foreign dignitaries of state, celebrities and even the President and the First Lady of the United States.

Pink Ivory Wood

Botanical name is Berchemia or Rhamnus zeyheri. Its average specific gravity is approximately 0.81. It is in the classification of hardwood. It grows in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa. Other names are Red Ivorywood, Umgoloti Wood and Pau Preto Wood.

Legend has it that it is the royal wood of the South African tribe, Zulu. When the son of a chief is capable of cutting the tree down and can create a spear with the wood, he is considered a man. No other member of the tribe is allowed to cut a tree or have any of the trees wood in their possession. If they break this sacred rule, the punishment is death.

Pink Ivory turns and carves fairly easily. It has a very fine texture, if sanded down in steps to 2000 grit sandpaper or finer it will shine without applying a finish or wax to it. The color can be light pink to a medium red with a pinkish tinge and sometimes a fairly bright red with a pinkish tinge. It costs $100.00 - $150.00 per board foot. Sometimes it is sold by the pound. Here is a supplier that usually has it, Righteous Woods.


Store lumber vertically from longest pieces in back to shortest in front, instead of horizontally on shelves or racks. It makes lumber a whole lot easier to see, look at {thumb through}, from getting marred and scratched, and it saves a lot of time.

Quote Or Proverb

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. Elbert Hubbard

Bethlehem Jerusalem Holy Land Olivewood

Botanical name is Olea europaea. Its average specific gravity is approximately 0.70. It is in the classification of hardwood. Today Olive tress can be found in northern Africa, the Middle East and southern Europe especially in Italy. There are also small orchards in California, Florida and Arizona. Other names are Olivo Wood, Olivier Wood and Olbaum Wood.

Olive Trees have been around for many centuries. Olive is in the Ash {Fraxinus spp} family. They can live for 1500 years or more and usually do not obtain a height of more than 25 feet or diameters in excess of 12 inches. The Holy Bible states that King Solomon's temple had Olivewood decorative art objects in it.

Very large percentages are cultivated for oil and the olives. It is rarely sold or available in lumber and if one is lucky enough to find lumber, it will be small pieces and very expensive.

The most famous and sought after Olivewood is the wood from the trees in and around the Bethlehem Jerusalem Holy Land area. Because the trees are only trimmed once or twice a year, it is extremely difficult to obtain the wood and then only in small pieces. No trees are ever harmed, damaged or destroyed by the trimming.

Bethlehem Olivewood lumber is hard, heavy and strong. The color can be light to medium brown with a yellowish tinge with brownish, grayish and blackish markings. The lumber has great movement in service. It routs, shapes and planes well with carbide tipped cutting tools. Carves well and turns well on a lathe.

Drilling and cutting is rather difficult. Most cutting tools seem to dull at an above average rate. Cutting tools should be kept quite sharp. It also does not tool burn easily

If one does not own or have access to a moisture meter, especially with the blocks used for turning, I highly recommend stabilizing {treating} it using PEG 1000 {polyethylene glycol} before making any project from it.

When first worked with tools and sanded, the wood gives off a slight sweet smell.

Sands wells, very little gum up. Glues very well with polyurethane glue.

It costs $50.00 to $90.00 per board foot.

One must be very careful in purchasing Olivewood as some pieces may have high waste {unusable} as much as 66 2/3%. Small pieces this does not pertain to, but the larger the piece the poorer the quality. This is because the trees are small and do not have very much of a trunk. Here is one supplier that sells it in Israel, Bethlehem Olive Wood.


When routing woods that tool burn easily when you slow down too much or stop such as cherry, use a variable speed router. To get the burn marks out, set the speed of the router to about 2/3 of the maximum revolution and lower the bit just a hair, then make one more pass. You will get a slightly rougher cut but the burn mark or marks will be gone.

Quote Or Proverb

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which one has overcome while trying to succeed. Booker T. Washington


Botanical name is Piratinera Guianensis. Its average specific gravity is approximately 1.30. It is in the classification of hardwood and it grows in South America, Guyana and Surinam. Other names are Leopard Wood, Speckled Wood and Letterwood.

It is extremely hard! In fact some Snakewood can be harder than Lignum Vitae making it the hardest wood in the world. Color is usually light reddish brown to dark reddish brown. It can have remarkable figure with dark brown or black speckles, stripes and spots like a leopards or with strange markings. It has a tendency to dull tools very quickly it is best to use extremely sharp carbide tools when working with this wood. In my experience when sawing Snakewood it is not uncommon for the saw blade to throw sparks. You should clean the wood with Acetone prior to gluing it and use a polyurethane glue.

The price varies depending upon the amount of figure the wood has. Highly figured will cost $150.00 - $350.00 per board foot. Sometimes they sell it by the pound. One board foot will normally weigh approximately 6 pounds. There are a few suppliers who carry Snakewood most of the time, one such supplier is, Eisenbrand Exotic Hardwoods.


When marking around templates or patterns, you should use a mechanical pencil that uses 0.5 or 0.7mm lead. This allows for a precise and consistent marking to follow when using a scroll saw or bandsaw for cutting. Also you can twist the lead out say an inch or so to mark in those hard to reach crevices.

Quote Or Proverb

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Thomas Alva Edison

Thuyawood Burl
It is Pronounced Too-Yuh

Botanical name is Tetraclinis artculata. Its average specific gravity is approximately 0.72. It is in the classification of softwood {Conifer}. It grows in Morocco and Algeria. Other names are Citrus Wood, Thyine Wood and Sandarac Wood.

It is a burl, which is an outgrowth on the root of a tree. When worked {sawed, planed, sanded etc.} it gives off a sweet but also a sour smell combined. It is usually light golden brown to light to medium brown sometimes with a slight reddish tinge and has wild grain and numerous knots making a mottled or bird's eye figure. The wood is difficult to work because of its brittle nature. Extreme care is required during the kiln drying process. To eliminate this you can either air dry (requiring an extended amount of time depending upon the thickness of the wood) or I recommend stabilizing {treating} it using PEG 1000 {polyethylene glycol} before making any project from it. This will decrease the waiting time to do a project.

It costs $50.00 to $75.00 per board foot but it is extremely difficult to obtain a source. The source that I have located to obtain this wood is, Exotic Wood Group.


To produce exact fitting pieces, use the cut and fit method. To do this take each piece, line it up with the joining piece and mark approximately with a pencil where the cut needs to be, then cut the piece {sometimes takes as many as 3 or 4 cuts} until it fits precisely.

Quote Or Proverb

Some look at things that are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not? George Bernard Shaw

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