Boatworks Today

Tips For Fuming Red Oak?

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I posted this Fall that I had a bunch of red oak quartersawn and now I'm looking to start experimenting on finishing techniques to really make the fleck / grain POP!  This lumber has some wicked character!!!

 

From what I've come across fuming seems to give the best results (although maybe not the safest)...  I work with chemicals on a daily basis and am equipped to manage this aspect :D

 

BUT, I've never done this before (fuming)..  I don't typically work with oak, but I have a lot of it and being QS there is a lot of character to highlight!!   I grew up with regular sawn oak everywhere in the house (with the big cathedral grain lines) and it creeped me out as a child; I always saw aliens in the patterns :o .  But QS is a much different appearance...

 

Has anyone tried the fuming process on red oak?  If so, any tips to pass along? 

 

I've already ordered the 28% aqua ammonia and it should be delivered early next week..

 

Also, I know that QS white oak would be better for this, but red is what I have :)  

 

Thank you!

 

~Andy

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I haven't tried it myself, but I remember reading an article somewhere (wish I could remember where) that gave a brief run-down of the process.  I remember thinking: "Gee.  Even I could do that," which means that it's almost falling off a log simple.

 

From what I remember, you sand to final grit, leave the parts propped up in your fuming tent, and leave the dish of ammonia inside.  The smaller the tent, the smaller the amount of ammonia you need.  No ventilation in the tent for obvious reasons, but they recommended a ventilation period immediately after opening the tent and before removing the fumed process.

 

Here's where my memory gets fuzzy.  I don't remember if they went through another stage of sanding, due to raised grain or not.  And from what I remember, the pieces were put in without being assembled first, although the components should probably be assembled.

 

I believe there was a companion article on how to make a fuming tent if you didn't already have one, which might be how I found the information.  Let me see what I can come up with.  (Lot on my plate right now, so it might take a while.)

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quick search yielded this nugget from FWW, but it's not the one I remembered.  It should help, though.  (probably better than the one I thought of.)

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quick search yielded this nugget from FWW, but it's not the one I remembered.  It should help, though.  (probably better than the one I thought of.)

Thanks jHop!  With all the searching I've done that was one that I missed :blink:  Kinda wondering why fuming is almost entirely done on white oak and rarely red?  I know that white has a but more character but some of the red is almost as good..  I suppose if I pull the pieces out and they're purple I'll know why :P ..  Not really sure what to expect...

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Good luck, Boat. I've never done this either. Show us some pictures...good or bad.

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hey boat i have some white oak that i was thinking of staining to pop the rays on my test piece the stain seeps down into the grain/poors so bad that they take away from the rays.  dont realy care for the look all that much.just looks like it has lots of little dots all over the wood.  in your research did you happen to find a alternative way to pop the rays without using coloring agents?  ill have to try some shellack to seal and then sand and stain on top.  i dont realy want to buy a gallon of ammonia for a small board. 

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Doing some testing with the fuming now.  Did my first 2 samples yesterday (one piece fumed for 6 hours and the other 24 hrs).  It definitely darkens the wood and brings out the rays!  My problem is now that I don't have the correct materials for finishing to really dress it up.  I'll be picking that up tomorrow.  Amber shellac for seal coats and some GF burnt umber glaze.. 

 

With QS red oak (which is what I'm using) the pieces came out an olive color.  From what I came across this was anticipated and I am hoping that I can counter balance that with some orange or amber shellac as a seal coat.  Green and red = brown..  We'll see..

 

I bought my ammonia on ebay.  I anticipate going quite a bit of this which is why I bought a gallon, but smaller quantities can be had for around 15-20$

 

If you'd prefer to stay away from this I would try fine sanding (320 grit) and giving your oak a seal coat with amber shellac followed by your finish of choice (hard wax, poly, oil based varnish, etc).  This is a bit of an experiment for me so this is only a guess.  If I remember correctly check out (still makes me chuckle :P )%C2%A0 He just went right over his with some GF arm seal satin.  Turned out great!

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Thanks jHop!  With all the searching I've done that was one that I missed :blink:  Kinda wondering why fuming is almost entirely done on white oak and rarely red?  I know that white has a but more character but some of the red is almost as good..  I suppose if I pull the pieces out and they're purple I'll know why :P ..  Not really sure what to expect...

 

From the little bit of reading I've done on fuming, the reason WO is used more often than RO is because the tannin levels are much higher in WO...and the tannin is what reacts to the ammonia.  I've heard that RO can turn a greenish color, as you experienced.  Looking forward to seeing the results...

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my brothers girl friend and her daughters are short enough that they have poopen stool in there bathroom to put there feet on.  i dont think its as much for the girl friend but it is definatly for the two girls 11-13 and they are both under 5 feet.

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my brothers girl friend and her daughters are short enough that they have poopen stool in there bathroom to put there feet on.  i dont think its as much for the girl friend but it is definatly for the two girls 11-13 and they are both under 5 feet.

 

?

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Doing some testing with the fuming now. Did my first 2 samples yesterday (one piece fumed for 6 hours and the other 24 hrs). It definitely darkens the wood and brings out the rays! My problem is now that I don't have the correct materials for finishing to really dress it up. I'll be picking that up tomorrow. Amber shellac for seal coats and some GF burnt umber glaze..

With QS red oak (which is what I'm using) the pieces came out an olive color. From what I came across this was anticipated and I am hoping that I can counter balance that with some orange or amber shellac as a seal coat. Green and red = brown.. We'll see..

I bought my ammonia on ebay. I anticipate going quite a bit of this which is why I bought a gallon, but smaller quantities can be had for around 15-20$

If you'd prefer to stay away from this I would try fine sanding (320 grit) and giving your oak a seal coat with amber shellac followed by your finish of choice (hard wax, poly, oil based varnish, etc). This is a bit of an experiment for me so this is only a guess. If I remember correctly check out (still makes me chuckle :P )%C2%A0 He just went right over his with some GF arm seal satin. Turned out great!

I was Referring to this comment. Makes me laugh every time I go into his bathroom

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Kinda bummed.  We ended up getting some snow (12") and I haven't been able to pick up the shellac and glaze yet..   My Daughter's 3rd birthday was on the 20th but she's been sick so we decided to try and celebrate her party tomorrow (Sunday, anticipating that she would feel better).

 

Well, she's still sick and I'm not able to finish the present that I made for her (at least not finish them the way I wanted to <_< )  Not that it's anything big, but she's been asking for a stroller to take her "babies" (aka dolls) for a walk to the imaginary grocery store down our hallway.. 

 

Simple enough, so I put together an initial design, decided to change it last minute and ended up kicking myself for it...  Here's the first one I put together (this is QS oak)..  This is going to end up being a little chair instead (a couple more modifications needed)...

 

post-6031-0-72898200-1361640781_thumb.jp

 

Didn't like the way the handle looked when attached so I built another one (sticking to my original design) and it looks much better although because it was a last minute decision I went with regular sawn oak because it was much drier than the 8/4 qs stock that I have.  Looks nice but isn't going to have the rays that the first one has.. :angry:

 

post-6031-0-09868500-1361640732_thumb.jp

 

post-6031-0-31914500-1361641894_thumb.jp

 

Anyway, here are some of the test samples that I fumed and finished with whatever I had on hand.    This pic  shows the color change after a 12 hour fuming.  Pretty big different, but a little on the olive color.  I'm hoping that the colored shellac and glaze will tone this down.. 

 

I'll be trying an amber shellac and GF Burnt Umber glaze (when it comes in)..

 

post-6031-0-95083600-1361640833_thumb.jp

 

Then I took another piece that had fumed for 12 hours and rubbed in a red mahogany stain / filler, let that dry and went overtop with a clear oil based sealer..  Looks OK IMO.  The rays definitely came out which is a step in the right direction, but it's too red (I'm looking for a brown-ish color)..  I used a red stain filler.... Duh.. B) Of course it's going to be red....

 

post-6031-0-74707700-1361640807_thumb.jp

 

So, now I guess I wait until Monday to pick up the shellac and glaze..  considering since the stroller isn't QS I should just slap something on so I am able to give it to her tomorrow...  Otherwise it will be mid week before it's ready..   But the chair I really want to fume..  I spent some time selecting the pieces and I think it will look pretty sharp..  THINK being the key phrase :unsure:

 

Why is it that the simple projects always create the most stress...

 

Just realized how crappy these pics are..  Really need a better camera for pics...

Edited by Boatworks Today

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