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Thread: Fuming White Oak

  1. #1
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    Fuming White Oak

    My last few projects with White Oak have featured fairly elaborate finishing schedules involving dye and stain and oil and shellac and wax. This time I needed simple. My Daughter asked me for a stand for her tablet to use in her kitchen. I went with a 24 hour exposure to ammonia fumes (household strength) followed by a coat of natural Danish oil. Simple = Winner. One of my favorite finishes.

    It's wood dust. Saw dust would suggest a problem.

  2. #2
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    Looks great Rob. Did you notice a big difference after the 24 hour fuming with regular strength ammonia?

  3. #3
    What is fuming?

  4. #4
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    Looks GREAT...
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Roun View Post
    Looks great Rob. Did you notice a big difference after the 24 hour fuming with regular strength ammonia?
    It darkened up quite a bit. I was pleased with the results. Too often the industrial strength ammonia darkens the wood too much for my taste.
    Last edited by Rob Luter; 04-09-2018 at 9:09 PM.
    It's wood dust. Saw dust would suggest a problem.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Redford View Post
    What is fuming?
    Exposure to ammonia fumes. It reacts with the tannins in the wood and darkens it naturally.
    It's wood dust. Saw dust would suggest a problem.

  7. #7
    Cool. Looks great!

  8. #8
    That really is a beautiful finish. I really like the look. How deep does the color from the fuming permeate? Pretty shallow?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by John C Cox View Post
    That really is a beautiful finish. I really like the look. How deep does the color from the fuming permeate? Pretty shallow?
    Thanks. In my experience, it's deep enough to allow light sanding.
    It's wood dust. Saw dust would suggest a problem.

  10. #10
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    That's a good looking finish Rob.

    How did you do it? Just put a bowl of ammonia in a large tupperware tub with the wood? Something else?

  11. #11
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    This is a classic way to get a great color on white oak. One thing...fuming can be dangerous to health, even with "household" strength ammonia. Be sure to choose a well ventilated location and take other personal safety precautions.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    This is a classic way to get a great color on white oak. One thing...fuming can be dangerous to health, even with "household" strength ammonia. Be sure to choose a well ventilated location and take other personal safety precautions.
    Please take Jim's caution seriously. As one who almost fell into an industrial mix tank after getting gassed by ammonia it is nothing to fool around with without proper safety equipment. IMHO, there are far easier, safer, and more controllable ways to get the look of fumed oak. Stickley must have thought so, too, as they haven't used fuming in decades.

    John

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marshall K Harrison View Post
    That's a good looking finish Rob.

    How did you do it? Just put a bowl of ammonia in a large tupperware tub with the wood? Something else?
    Basically. I used a plastic storage container with a saucer full of ammonia at the bottom. I used the "less ammonia more time" approach to cut down on fumes as I do this in my basement shop. The wood pieces were stacked above using spacers made from wood blocks with brads driven in each side. I closed the lit tightly and let it sit 24 hours. Bone simple. I'll take some pics tonight and post. I'll also show some "pre-fumed" wood so all can see how much it darkened.

    Edit: Here's the precision container I used. Note the less than air-tight lid. I set some tool boxes on it to seal it up. I like to think the sawdust on top helped.



    The wood was stacked as shown. A piece of scrap maple was supported by painting pyramids and covered the saucer full of ammonia. I tapped four brads into the maple to support the first piece, and then made a double sided riser for the second. I thought about a fancier approach, but.... No, I really didn't.



    Here's a before and after shot of the fuming. The "before" has been treated with the same natural Danish oil as the "after" to level the playing field. It's interesting that the distribution of the tannis in the wood will really impact the final look. The lighter areas were not predicted. I think they add to the visual interest though.

    Last edited by Rob Luter; 04-10-2018 at 5:54 PM.
    It's wood dust. Saw dust would suggest a problem.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    Please take Jim's caution seriously. As one who almost fell into an industrial mix tank after getting gassed by ammonia it is nothing to fool around with without proper safety equipment. IMHO, there are far easier, safer, and more controllable ways to get the look of fumed oak. Stickley must have thought so, too, as they haven't used fuming in decades.

    John
    I was out at the Stickley factory in Manlius last spring and did the tour. We went to see the original factory in Fayetteville too. They talked about the "fuming room" where they'd move finished pieces in to fume. I got the feeling they stopped fuming because there was a desire for more finish variety. The factory is now the public library and Stickley museum. It's worth a visit if you're in the area.
    It's wood dust. Saw dust would suggest a problem.

  15. #15
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    Bump for edits.
    It's wood dust. Saw dust would suggest a problem.

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