How to Finish Olive Wood

Updated February 21, 2017

Olive wood, harvested from olive trees, is exceptionally hard and oily. Olive continues to bleed from the wood for many months even after it is dry. Olive wood used to make salad bowls, plates and utensils does not require a finish and should not undergo the chemical processes for finishing because of health and safety reasons. Olive wood used to make ornamental carvings, pens and statues is typically finished to protect the wood from stains and damaged caused by handling.

Sand the olive wood surface with extra-fine-grit sandpaper to remove any high spots of wood grain.

Wipe the olive wood surface 10 to 12 times with denatured alcohol, waiting five to 10 minutes in between applications, to remove the oil from the wood. Olive wood is oily and unless you chemically dry the oil, no finish will adhere properly.

Sand the olive wood surface lightly with extra-fine-grit sandpaper.

Wipe the entire surface with a tackcloth to pick up bits of dust and debris. A tackcloth is a sticky cloth designed to attract dust and stick to the cloth.

Apply a coat of non-yellowing polyurethane smoothly and evenly over the surface with a foam paintbrush. Allow the polyurethane to dry, usually two to three hours.

Rub the surface with a micromesh sanding pad.

Wipe the surface with a tackcloth.

Apply coats of polyurethane, allow to dry, rub with a micromesh sanding pad and wipe with a tackcloth until the shine and finish match your expectations.


Stir polyurethane, as shaking it may create air bubbles. Work in a well-ventilated area when applying polyurethane.

Things You'll Need

  • Extra-fine-grit sandpaper
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Tackcloth
  • Non-yellowing polyurethane
  • Micromesh sanding pad
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About the Author

Sal Marco began writing professionally in 2009. He has written many online home improvement articles based on his more than 20 years of experience in the home improvement and building industries. He has worked as both part of a team and as a site supervisor. Marco has a Bachelor of Science in management science from Kean University.