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  • Fuming Oak

    I would like to build some Mission Furniture - I have ordered the plans and I think it would be fun to fume it with ammonia. I have read about the process in magazines and have all the necessary personal protection equipment inclusive of the correct face mask. Has anyone attempted the fuming process? If so any tips you can offer would be appreciated. I also would like a hint on where to buy the ammonia locally. One magazine suggested the printing industry uses the high strength ammonia necessary for fuming. Does anyone have suggestions on what other types of businesses use ammonia?

    Thanks,

    Tom

  • #2
    Re: Fuming Oak

    I doubt they still use this because of the foul fumes but in the past commercial floor wax stripper had strong ammonia in it. You might try a janitorial supply place.

    If you can get it, and I doubt they will sell to private people, a chemical supplier will have ammonium hydroxide and that's the strong stuff. It is dangerous to handle and/or use. Printers did use if for cleaning and I think it was at one time used to clean drums of large Xerox copiers.

    As for your safety you might visit your local fire department HAZMAT division as they would know about how to deal with ammonia fumes.

    If you really want to try this, I think I would first check on the floor wax stripper and tell them you want the strong ammonia based kind. Use it outdoors and for wax removal you put hot water into a pail and add some of the stripper to it. Never add water to the stripper or you'll end up at the E R with nasty chemical burns.

    WARNING: You do this stuff at your own risk. What happens to you is your problem. Read all cautions and always keep you mind on what you're doing.
    Last edited by Woussko; 04-20-2007, 07:57 AM.

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    • #3
      Re: Fuming Oak

      Your local printing supply houses will have it. We used it for making copies (Blue-line) drawings with a blueliner machine. We bought a digital copier last year to replace that. There are still tons of them in use so getting the amonia will not be a problem.

      If you were closer, I believe I still have two cases (8 gallons) left that the person who bought the machine left here.

      Regards and good luck.

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      • #4
        Re: Fuming Oak

        biscuit

        That's right about the blue print copier. Thanks for jogging my old sleepy mind.

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        • #5
          Re: Fuming Oak

          Its all good.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Fuming Oak

            If you can't find it locally, here's a link to a place that will ship it to you:

            www.artchemicals.com

            Here's a link to what you will need:

            http://www.artchemicals.com/Ammonium...6-P67C151.aspx
            Last edited by wubears71; 04-20-2007, 08:30 AM.

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            • #7
              Re: Fuming Oak

              Thank you to everyone for the suggestions re the purchase of high strength ammonia. I think I will build the bedside table first and fume it before I fume the entire bedroom set. That way if something goes wrong the entire set won't be ruined.

              A result of extensive training is that I am very aware of the recommended safety procedures when it comes to working with chemicals. Part of the services provided to industry by the company for which work involves relining sewers in chemical plants. We work with the most noxious chemicals and chemical residuals used in industry. In many cases there is no margin for error. Zero. Zip. One mess-up, a second or two of breathing some of these fumes, and you are a dead man and the crew will be hoisting your lifeless body up by your safety harness. When working with chemicals "Caution" is always foremost in my mind.

              Tom

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              • #8
                Re: Fuming Oak

                Tom,

                Not sure if you live in a city, the burbs, or out in the country, but I would caution that if you have neighbors you should check with local ordinances. We used to have several blue print machines and though they contained the oder quite well, you could still smell the stuff anywhere on that office floor (one of the reasons they dumped the system).

                Several years ago when I worked for a sub-contract house, we were all cleaning up the office during one of those slow weeks. My cube partner, found a plastic bottle with liquid in it and took off the top and took a sniff to see what it was....Unfortunately, it was ammonia for the old Ozalid machine! He almost went into convulsions and it had to take him to the infirmery. The stuff is really nasty, so be very careful.

                CWS

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                • #9
                  Re: Fuming Oak

                  CWSmith,

                  I live right in the dog-snot city of Albany. It is a terrible place too. Your mention of the residual fumes is a valid concern. I will take my stuff to the farm or up to camp where no one is around.

                  Thank you.

                  Tom

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                  • #10
                    Re: Fuming Oak

                    Just wanted to throw this out there....but if you take a look at my website http://www.martiniwoodworks.com you'll see a hope chest that I fumed with ammonia. Built a tent for it and fumed it right in my back yard...with neighbors at most 50 feet away. I warned them about the chance of smelling some ammonia but when asked later none of them were able to smell it.

                    Let me know if you have any other questions!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Fuming Oak

                      I'm new here. Why would you want to "fume" something like that?

                      Just curious.

                      Clato

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                      • #12
                        Re: Fuming Oak

                        Clato,

                        Fuming oak with ammonia will darken it. I've never done it myself but here is some background information that might help you understand the why's and wherefore's of the process:

                        http://codesmiths.com/shed/workshop/...ues/oakfuming/

                        Do a Google search on "Fuming Oak" and you'll get a lot of hits. Also, I'm sure there are more than a few experienced fellows on here who can enlighten many of us.

                        CWS

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                        • #13
                          Re: Fuming Oak

                          brnhornt,

                          Those pieces on your website are very nice, quality craftsmanship. Now that I have seen a piece that was fumed in a non-magazine setting I am more excited than ever about doing it.

                          Clato,

                          The primary reason I would like to fume is an attempt to match some Stickley pieces. Also, I stink at finishing. I haven't taken the time to learn how to spray so my glossy finishes are brush or rag applied. Generally I work with walnut and I like to finish with oil and wax. I use a product produced locally called Bush Oil and Minwax, the combination of which produces a "fine furniture" quality finish. (It drives me nuts that so many people want a "Christmas Tree Shop" glossy finish. There is no accounting for poor taste.) My hope is that fuming and shellac will produce a finish that is easily applied and I won't have to spend time rubbing out brush marks with automotive swirl remover.

                          Tom

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                          • #14
                            Re: Fuming Oak

                            Tom,

                            Thanks for the kind words

                            I do want to throw out a caution that fuming with ammonia won't produce the picture perfect finish all by itself. If you want a nice uniform look it's really important that you try and make sure all of the white oak is from the same tree. Take a look at the chest on my site Linky You'll see that the plywood panels didn't quite match up with the surrounding hardwood. I was happy with the contrast...but others might not be. That's because the plywood and the hardwood came from different trees...and those different trees contained a different amount of tannins (the guys that react to the ammonia) in them. Plus, when fuming it's not going to give you that rich brown AND red that most associate with Stickley. You usually end up having to go back after the fuming process and add a water/alcohol based dye to put the red in there.

                            But...with all that said....it still was a fun process to do. There's something rather magical about putting in a nice creamy piece of white oak and then a few hours later out pops this rather dark piece. I also like the fact that the ammonia penetrates rather deep in the wood. I haven't had a chance to really compare this with other finishes....but I cross cut some of my test pieces in half at the middle and the fumes penetrated a good 1/4" deep. I liked that because in my mind if someone ever scratches the heck out of the chest...they're really have to get 1/4" down into the wood before that scratch revealed any high contrast. Again...disclaimer...I never really tested this...but seemed to make sense to me

                            Take care!
                            Kevin

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