First things first, Dave Darr is quick to point out: while his Cutting Board Oil and other wood finish products are named after Arctic mammals, don’t let that conjure up images of ruthless hunts for the tusked behemoths in icy waters. No animals are harmed in the making of Walrus Oil.
“The walrus is one of the largest carnivores in the world and is a symbol of unwavering strength,” Darr says. “We’d like to believe our products are just as impressive.”
The origin of Walrus Oil Cutting Board Oil actually came about a good deal south of the Artic Circle, more than a decade ago, when Darr — then a website developer in Grand Rapids, Michigan — reclaimed and refinished furniture in his spare time.
“Grand Rapids at one point was one of the largest furniture manufacturing cities, due to the abundance of forest there. I could pick up an old rocking chair or desk at an antique shop for $20. It was therapeutic to just work with my hands after a busy day at the office.”
As time went on, Darr shifted his hobby away from more time-consuming custom refinishing work and into making cutting boards and clipboards for restaurants. “I wanted to focus on selling a few products I could make in large volumes in a short amount of time. That business eventually became Dispatch Supply Company in 2016,” Darr says.
What he needed early on was a finishing product that could match his business objective of “large volume, short time” while also being food-safe. Nothing readily available then was quite right for the purpose.
“So, I developed Walrus Oil Cutting Board Oil to fill a market void with an affordable, single-step food-safe wood finish that is durable and enhances the natural beauty of wood,” Darr says.
It took years of experimentation, but Darr finally landed on a mixture of ingredients for Cutting Board Oil that won’t take a chemistry degree to decipher: coconut oil, mineral oil, vitamin E and beeswax. It simply wipes on and wipes off and is FDA compliant.
“It brings out the true, natural color (of wood), and it doesn’t smell or contaminate food,” Darr says. “I believe that wood finishes should be made from simple, easy to understand ingredients — ones that are harmless to the environment and nontoxic to the user when properly used, and all without sacrificing product quality and performance.”
At first, Cutting Board Oil was used only for finishing Dispatch Supply’s wood products. But, Darr began to test the waters of broader distribution by offering his finish to outside vendors and other woodworking shops. Their response was positive — so much so that Darr expanded Dispatch Supply to include an entire wood finish manufacturing operation to meet the growing wholesale and retail demand. Walrus Oil officially came to market about a year ago.
The finish options have also blossomed. In addition to Cutting Board Oil, the company also offers a non-yellowing Walrus Oil Wood Wax and Pure Mineral Oil.
“Our Wood Wax adds extra shine, color and more water protection when applied after oiling. And since some hardwoods require a mineral oil bath before applying a final finish, we offer that as well,” Darr explains.
You’ll notice on the company website that Walrus Oil is a member of the “1% For The Planet” organization. It’s an international nonprofit whose members contribute at least one percent of their annual sales to environmental causes in six core focus areas: climate, food, land, pollution, water and wildlife. Every Walrus Oil product sold helps to support this effort.
“We donate money to tree planting organizations because woodworking requires trees to be cut down,” Darr says. “Without trees, there would be no woodworking, and we would have no business. So, we try to help put back what is taken away.”
Things are moving along at a good clip at Dispatch Supply Company and Walrus Oil these days, and Darr is pleased with his company’s growth and mission. He’s also happy to announce that Walrus Oil Cutting Board Oil, Wood Wax and Mineral Oil will be available at Rockler stores and at rockler.com beginning this month.
“What gets me out of bed in the morning are the (customers) that use our products and depend on our quality. We sincerely value customer satisfaction and work very hard to maintain an impeccable reputation,” Darr says. “Many of our customers and retail partners have also become personal friends, so it’s truly enjoyable to come into work every day.”
Learn more Walrus Oil’s mission and products by clicking here.