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Thread: Fuming Red Oak

  1. #1
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    Fuming Red Oak

    Anyone here ever fumed Red Oak? I have a project in progress using QSRO and I'm considering fuming as it's an English A&C inspired piece. I know that RO doesn't fume like WO due to the lower tannin content but am interested in the look that can be gotten with RO.


    No comments on the hazards of using ammonia, please, or the option of using dye, instead. I read enough of those on various forums when doing a google search. The typical forum replies that give all sorts of advice but no direct answer, most all from folks who had never actually fumed anything. Go figure.


    I would definitely fume a test piece or two before attempting it on the actual project but would also like to hear from anyone who has actually done fuming and especially on QSRO.
    Cody

    "The reverence that the object maker has for the materials, for the shape, and for the miracle of his skill transcends to God, the Master Craftsman, the Creator of all things, who uses us, our hands, as His tools to make these beautiful things." Sam Maloof (1916-2009).
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  2. #2
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    Re: Fuming Red Oak

    I am at the point where I believe only about 2% of what I read on forums.

    Forums have some of the best information and some of the worst - all in the same thread.

    I have posted stuff after going out in the shop and testing then come in to post - only to have an arm chair poster refute what I just proved, and have that arm chair jabroney backed by several other arm chair jabronies.

    Anyone trying to actually learn something - wow - who is blowing smoke and who is not.

    I have never fumed anything - I don't like the results and I will never try it. If I wanted to try it, I would. Pine, Red Oak, Maple, rock, HDU, Corian. I don't really care anymore what posters say - I will learn better than all of them.

    Sorry Cody -

    Nah - never tried it - but I would be interested in your observations about it.
    Art and Creativity - Collide with the Functionality of CNC - priceless
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  3. #3
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    Re: Fuming Red Oak

    I have fumed RO. The results are spotty.

    The tannin level seems to vary significantly within the same piece of RO.

    What has to be done is to fume before selecting pieces for the project. You'll see where there is almost no tannin and sufficient tannin. I would guess that there is a 50% loss of wood due to uneven tannin. The RO after fuming exhibits a greenish cast that's eventually (several days) goes away. Fuming seems to harden the RO. The RO or WO will 'out gas' the ammonia fumes for several days, maybe a week.

    That's the bad news.

    The good news is that it you leave the RO in the tent for 48+ hours, the effects of the fuming seem to go all the way through 4/4 RO. It seems that cutting 2-3 inches from the edge of a plank, the reaction (color) is fully through the RO.

    The fuming process itself is ugly. If you haven't worked in a chemical factory I wouldn't recommend it. You have to think all of your steps necessary to accomplish the process. Then break these steps down into a sequence that can be completed while holding your breath for each little step.

    I watched an instructor do the process. I offered to do it as I was familiar with the 26°be Ammonia and had worked in a chemical factory. He had an ammonia mask and was invincible. Invincible that is until the mask expired. He got gassed rather badly. I'm told that the cartridge in the mask is good and the next breath it fails completely. Also he didn't understand that it is necessary to able to stop breathing in the middle of a breath and get out of the area immediately.

    When thinking about where you work, you probably have the hazardous fumes reaction built in to your psyche. It's not a bad skill to have.

    Just purchasing the 26-Degree Baumé is getting to be more difficult all the time. The best places seem to be near the county court house where the land records are kept. Many of the businesses in the area have blueprint (Ozalid) machines. These businesses use the 26°be as developer for blueprints. With land records being either put on to micro flitch or digitized the need for the actual blueprint is going away as is the need for the 26°be Ammonia.
    (BTW - Also called Aqueous Ammonia)

    I've been told that using ordinary household ammonia doesn't work. As a test I put household ammonia in a dish with some RO in a large baggie. The results were underwhelming.

    So here is what you don't want to hear. "Use a nice golden oak gel stain and you'll be much happier."
    Rich
    Huntington Beach, California

    Surf's up
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  4. #4
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    Re: Fuming Red Oak

    Damn, Rich. You are just full of good news....not!


    Working occasionally on H2S wells, I am pretty well versed and trained in poisonous gas and working around it. 100 ppm of H2S will kill you with one breath. I also have a friend who works at a print shop and had planned to get the aqueous ammonia through him.


    However, it seems like the inherent hazards and the results of fuming Red Oak don't make it worth the trouble. I'll try it one day with some White Oak. I certainly don't want a puke green furniture piece after all the time and effort expended on the woodworking.


    Thanks for the info.


    BTW, I just came in from the shop (it's 23:45 hrs here) and the piece is coming along nicely. I spent the last two or three hours cutting and fitting M&T's. The Veritas medium shoulder plane is a marvel at fine tuning tenons.


    On another topic, there is sleet and snow approaching Tyler from the West...again. We've had three episodes of that chit already the past two weeks and I'm sick of it. March is supposed to be springtime in East Texas.
    Cody

    "The reverence that the object maker has for the materials, for the shape, and for the miracle of his skill transcends to God, the Master Craftsman, the Creator of all things, who uses us, our hands, as His tools to make these beautiful things." Sam Maloof (1916-2009).
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  5. #5
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    Re: Fuming Red Oak

    I fumed some of the business card holders I made a few years back. A couple of them were red oak. I remember them darkening somewhat, but nothing drastic.

    I did my fuming in a small igloo cooler.

    You might try some small scale experimenting in something similar.
    ____________

    Dave, in Indiana
    I'm a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Fuming Red Oak

    Quote Originally Posted by deepsplinter View Post
    I did my fuming in a small igloo cooler.
    Now that is absolutely brilliant!


    And Cody,
    The green goes away in a few days. It is most prevalent under fluorescent lighting.
    Rich
    Huntington Beach, California

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