Little Journey's #2: Fuming!

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Blog entry by gizmodyne posted 06-08-2008 05:36 AM 2274 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Back Log Part 2 of Little Journey's series Part 3: Applying Shellac and Hiding Sapwood »

I had a little more handwork to do on the Little Journey’s Bookstand. I fiddled with the tusks a bit.

I originally sanded the piece to 400 but decided to sand to 220 this time. The loose tenons/tusks took forever to sand and detail.

Fuming Time

I have always wanted to try this. Two years ago I had a student whose dad owned a blueprint shop. He gave me a large bottle of super strength ammonia. I had bought an ammonia respirator in preparation for the job.

I build a simple tent from pine scraps and then stapled plastic to the outside.

I donned long sleeves, my respirator, chemical gloves, and goggles.

I poured two bowls of ammonia.

and stuck them under the tent.

The color change happened almost immediately.

We kept watch over it and then after about 3.5 hours we removed the tent.

I poured the spent ammonia into a large bucket of water.

I took the piece back to the shop to air out for the night. That stuff is wicked! Even with a respirator.

In the finewoodworking article, author Kevin Rodel indicates that the final finish will darken the piece while warming it up.

We will see. I plan on shellac and dark wax.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

8 comments so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3766 days

#1 posted 06-08-2008 05:43 AM

looking good! that ammonia is dangerous so its good to see you taking the proper saftey precautions. i can’t wait to see the finished product. thanks for the post.

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3894 days

#2 posted 06-08-2008 06:54 AM

Looks good so far. Looking forward to the final pictures.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3820 days

#3 posted 06-08-2008 01:03 PM

This is looking pretty good. Fuming produces a nice rich color but is not commonly used anymore. It is nice to see you using this technique. I too am looking forward to seeing the finished project.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View gizmodyne's profile


1779 posts in 4088 days

#4 posted 06-08-2008 05:37 PM

Thanks guys. I have to go look at it this morning and see if I want to make it darker before the finish. It was dusk outside when I took it out.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3987 days

#5 posted 06-08-2008 07:09 PM

Very cool Gizmo!

Ammonia is the same thing they put in “smelling salts”.

I never have made anything from oak yet, but if I do, this is the finish I want to apply.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3743 days

#6 posted 06-08-2008 10:25 PM

Always make sure that you use a respirator filter made for ammonia. It’s a different one than used for paint fumes. Gizmo has all of the right equipment, and it’s not just a precaution, it’s necessary. If you have any cuts or scrapes that are covered, the ammonia will let you know.
Also, the darkness of the oak will depend on the amount of tannic acid in the wood. Sap wood will not darken. Maximum darkness will happen within 24 hours of fuming. It’s a good idea to put in scraps when you start, then you can test them every hour or so to get the amount of darkening that you want. The piece doesn’t have to be free of fumes to put some boiled linseed oil on it, so you can get an idea how it will look.

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 3839 days

#7 posted 06-10-2008 08:30 PM

Interesting process, can you imagine what ou great grandfathers went through without all the technoligy we have today.

It will be cool to see the final resukts.

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3711 days

#8 posted 06-13-2008 12:18 AM

Cool process, great post describing what happened. Looks like a great piece of furniture, thanks for the post.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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