Topcoating Fumed Oak

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Forum topic by Dave Owen posted 06-29-2013 12:57 PM 1665 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dave Owen

254 posts in 3073 days

06-29-2013 12:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: fuming top coat drying time question

Yesterday I tried fuming a white oak mission-style clock using 10% ammonia for seven hours. I like the color after the initial greenish- grey brown mellowed overnight, with the green cast almost gone. A question I haven’t seen addressed with fuming is how long I should wait after removing the project from the fuming container, before applying a top coat. It’s now been about 14 hours, and I can still detect a significant ammonia smell on the oak.

This is a simple project, and I’m considering wipe-on poly, spray lacquer, or wax as a finish. Comments on those – or other suggested finish options will be appreciated.


-- Dave O.

6 replies so far

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3662 days

#1 posted 06-29-2013 02:18 PM

Gregory Paolini recently had a series on where he built and fumed a Stickley-inspired Arts and Crafts book rack ( ).

He only let the piece cure for an hour or two before applying a homebrew oil/varnish mixture (3 parts mineral spirits, 2 parts polyurethane, and 1 part bolied linseed oil). He put a couple of coats on, waited a week, then coated with a paste wax.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29229 posts in 2338 days

#2 posted 06-29-2013 02:41 PM

Contact gregthecajonboxscultor. He is fuming oak on several of his new boxes.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3308 days

#3 posted 06-29-2013 02:58 PM

Dave…the pieces I have been fuming were fumed with ammonia I purchased from walmart in the cleaning section…not sure about the % strength, but it was easily available, cheap and an experiment that I was satisfied with the results… I waited about 3 hours before sealing.
Sealed it with lacquer…but that is my personal preference. I noticed that the fuming doesn’t add any moisture content to the oak. i checked it with my moisture meter before and after fuming and the moisture content remained around 8%. I fumed the oak for about 24 hours to get the look I liked.

I look forward to seeing the end results for your mission clock

View Dave Owen's profile

Dave Owen

254 posts in 3073 days

#4 posted 06-29-2013 03:11 PM

I really appreciate the quick responses provided on this website, and am encouraged by the short length of time mentioned. I’ll likely give it a try with wipe-on poly this afternoon, and post the results after a couple of coats.

-- Dave O.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3161 posts in 3108 days

#5 posted 06-29-2013 03:34 PM

I fumed a red oak picture frame with ammonia that was lemon-scented. It took a couple of days to get to the color I wanted, so the lemon scent may have been a factor. That may also be due to a lower tannin level in the red oak. I’m not bothered by the greenish tint that the red oak had after fuming. I’m using the frame to hold a tropical scene, so it looks like a rustic window frame. I only waxed it.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View Finisherman's profile


227 posts in 1849 days

#6 posted 06-29-2013 05:17 PM

I’m pretty sure that you can use any finish that you like over fumed oak. The fumes, unlike a stain or dye, don’t remain on the surface, so it’s like finishing bare wood. A couple of people mentioned a green cast in the wood. This can always be countered by applying a weak solution of red dye after you fume the wood, although that would be a potential game changer in terms of finishing.

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