Finishing white oak

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Forum topic by groland posted 07-10-2010 09:20 PM 4424 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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183 posts in 3406 days

07-10-2010 09:20 PM

My wife and I went to Stickley and Audi recently, a local dealer in Stickley furniture. Most of the furniture in their Arts & Crafts-style catalogue is made of white oak, but almost none of it had a natural finish. There were lots of stains or color samples to choose from. It got me to wondering.

One thought that came to me was that if such furniture is bumped or scratched, doesn’t that cut through the stain to reveal the lighter-colored white oak? If so, seems as though the normal wear and tear of life would soon have this furniture in somewhat shabby-looking state. Wouldn’t it be hard to keep such a finish looking well?


11 replies so far

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3045 days

#1 posted 07-11-2010 12:16 AM


Maybe, maybe not, but the people who pay those prices for Stickley don’t live the kinds of lives that get their furniture bumped and bruised. I mean , how much damage can you do with a wine glass or a croquet mallet? Really!


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View daveintexas's profile


365 posts in 3870 days

#2 posted 07-11-2010 08:59 PM


For my A&C/Mission style furniture I use an Asphsltum stain. Basically its tar and BLO, works great, easy to apply, gives a nice authentic finish. And yes, if its scratched, can easily be repaired.

Looking at all the furniture being sold by Lane, Ethan Allen, etc, they are all stained and seem to scratch real easy. I would have to think that its something consumers live with.


View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10478 posts in 3423 days

#3 posted 07-11-2010 09:12 PM

We finished our QSWO Mission style kitchen cabinets and island with the a fumed oak aniline dye and several coats of marine varnish. We have no little ones at home and our finish has held up well for 2 years. Not a ringing endorsement I know, but it works for us.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3475 days

#4 posted 07-12-2010 12:15 AM

I used TransTint and an oil based stain covered by poly on the last piece of mission (tall clock in my gallery) that I did and it worked well. I suppose if it got scratched or bumped it would take a bit to match the stain etc, but it could be done.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3279 days

#5 posted 07-12-2010 02:40 AM

One way to finish white oak is to fume it. That’s the original way Stickley did their furniture. It’s done with ammonia and it naturally changes the color of the wood. You won’t have to worry about scratching through the stain with that. You can top coat it with anything you like. If you would like to know more about it, you can google it.

-- John @

View JCantin's profile


179 posts in 3406 days

#6 posted 07-12-2010 02:37 PM

Let’s agree not to discuss fuming without also mentioning that it is extremely hazardous and must be done under very controlled conditions. Use of appropriate full mask respirator, eye protection, and gloves are a must.

View spclPatrolGroup's profile


233 posts in 2889 days

#7 posted 07-12-2010 04:47 PM

“I mean , how much damage can you do with a wine glass or a croquet mallet? Really!”

Growing up with 2 older brothers I can atest a croquet mallet can do a lot of damage, especially to the body.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2978 days

#8 posted 07-12-2010 04:58 PM

Fuming is the traditional way of finishing Stickley furniture. The trick to fuming is to build a frame and cover with plastic outdoors. The fuming chamber/tent shouldn’t be much larger than the project and should be air tight. most people will cut a slit in the side at the bottom to place the ammonia in. Note household ammonia won’t work you need to get it from a wood store that sells finishes. If you goggle fuming you can learn more about the process.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Jon Spelbring's profile

Jon Spelbring

199 posts in 4248 days

#9 posted 07-12-2010 08:41 PM

Sidenote on fuming – A friend of mine made a pair of Morris chairs out of QSWO. He decided to fume them. His answer to the tenting problem? Rent a small, closed U-Haul. He put the chairs in, set down the amonia trays, locked it up and waited. When it was done, all he had to do was air the trailer out and return it. Not too expensive either.

-- To do is to be

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4122 days

#10 posted 07-12-2010 09:06 PM


Ammonia fumes can delaminate the glue used to make some types of plywood, corrode metals and make some rubber and plastic products unstable. I hope the next person that rents that U-Haul trailer doesn’t have a problem. :)

-- 温故知新

View CaptainSkully's profile


1596 posts in 3553 days

#11 posted 07-13-2010 11:49 PM

I’ve fumed a few pieces, and yes it is a very unpleasant process, even with the proper safety gear and precautions. The good news is that when I cut up a test piece, the wood had colored 3/16” deep, so dents and scratches are no problem.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

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