Yes, it’s 5:30 am and I’m listening to Motörhead and writing about a wood finish. But it’s not just any wood finish — Odie’s Oil is my go-to for all of my woodworking projects.
From Odie’s Oil, in reference to their “Universal” finish which is what I’m reviewing:
- Food Safe, Solvent Free, Non-toxic Wood Finish and Stabilizer. Easy to Use. Lustrous Sheen In One Coat. It is also the perfect finish for leather, concrete, plastic, vinyl and metal.
- Odie’s Oil is great for all species of wood, exotic and domestic. Formulated to work on even the oiliest of woods. Will actually get better with age, becoming more durable and more beautiful!
- Contains natural UV inhibitors-sunscreen for your wood!
- Odie’s Oil is great for interior and exterior applications: Boats, Brightwork, Doors, Floors, Decks, Gates, Fine Furniture, Patio Furniture, Bowls, Cutting Boards, Kitchen Implements, Toys, auto detail, concrete, leather and metal, etc., etc. The list goes on and on!
- Odie’s Oil is great for wood turners and can be used as a friction polish!
- Odie’s Oil does not contain driers or any toxic chemicals, and all ingredients are food safe. No worries! Odie’s Oil is safe for everybody: families, kids, and pets!
- Odie’s Oil is easy to use! No sanding or stripping in between coats or for retouching! Wipe on, Wait a while, Buff off. Easy!
- A LITTLE ODIE’S OIL GOES A LONG WAY! USE SPARINGLY. “No solvents” means there is almost nothing to evaporate, so what you put on the wood, stays in the wood. Odie’s Oil covers many, many times the area of other wood finishes. Up to 20 times the coverage as conventional finishes. Coverage will vary depending on wood density and porosity.
I found out about this finish while looking for a professional-grade single-coat finish, ideally with low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds – bad for you, pets, and the environment). Odie’s Oil has become a favorite of woodworkers and crafters for good reason. That said, do note that it is not for high-exposure outdoor items, for which you should use an outdoor paint or UV-protected spar varnish/urethane.
Types of Finishes
There are two types of finishes: penetrating and surface finishes. Basically, penetrating finishes like mineral oil sink into the wood and stabilize it better, and surface finishes like lacquer protect the surface better. Odie’s Oil is a combination of both types as it contains non-toxic oils and waxes that penetrate and also protect the surface. In my mind, this is ideal.
Most wood finishes, like lacquers, varnishes, and polyurethanes contain VOCs, which are a health hazard. You can use these finishes safely by using a respirator and gloves and working with good ventilation/outdoors, but these are extra steps that some people may prefer to skip. However, since Odie’s Oil has no VOCs and all the ingredients are food-safe, you can apply it anywhere and even eat off of it when it’s dry. This is a game-changer compared to other finishes. It even smells good! I’d describe the scent as a combination of beeswax, olive oil, and citrus.
Most wood finishes contain solvents to help them be more liquidy/easier to apply. These solvents then evaporate and go into the environment, and into your lungs if you aren’t properly protected. Odie’s Oil contains no solvents. This can make it difficult to use on colder days, as the product will be more solid at colder temperatures, but you can warm it up and stir it and it’ll be ready to apply.
For most finishes, you need to apply at least 2 coats to ensure proper coverage, waiting for the finish to dry each time and usually sanding between coats. For Odie’s Oil, you just apply it once, rubbing it into the wood, wait for 45 minutes, and then wipe off the excess and buff it out until there’s no residue. This saves a lot of time and effort and is very convenient.
You will need to use a #0000 non-woven non-abrasive pad to apply the finish. If you’re in a pinch, you can use a shop towel or paper towel and really work it in, but the #0000 pad will help the finish get into the the grain better.
Odie’s Oil slightly darkens the wood and brings out the contrast in the grain, similar to lacquer or mineral oil. One interesting thing I like about it is that there aren’t different versions of it for matte or gloss — you determine the amount of glossiness by how smooth you sand the piece. This means that if you sand to 120-grit before applying, it will appear more matte, and if you sand to 400-grit before applying it will appear glossier. You can get a near-mirror finish around 2000-grit. I say “near-mirror” because it doesn’t form a visible film over the wood, as you’d get with varnish or lacquer — it makes the wood itself appear shiny, which is a slightly different look, but is beautiful and actually what I would prefer.
Here is a small box I made to hold the ashes of my 2 pet rats. Here’s what the finish looks like on curly maple and padauk, sanded to 220-grit I believe:
Here’s what it looks like on some other pieces of curly ambrosia maple and padauk, both sanded to 400-grit:
Does Ted Approve?
This finish is fantastic for almost any indoor project. The price for one jar may seem like a lot (around $40), but a little really does go a long way, with the manufacturer estimating 189 square feet of coverage per 9 oz jar. When you finish a project and see how much is still left in the jar, you’ll realize it’s actually a great deal.
Where to Buy
The company also sells several other products for different applications: