Fumed oak finish
A tip, a trick and some suggested reading on the subject of fumed oak finishes. January 24, 2001
I want to give a fumed oak finish to architectural woodwork in a home. I understand there are potential dangers in this process--any advice?
There is a good discussion of fuming, with pictures, in The Furniture of Gustav Stickley by Bavaro and Mossman.
I found a little trick that looks just like fumed oak, without the danger. Coat the bare wood with Watco black walnut Danish oil. When it dries completely, top coat with orange shellac. Experiment with scrap to see if you need to add some natural Watco to keep it from getting too black (densities vary in oak lumber).
I've begun fuming 1/4-sawn white oak for Mission furniture after doing some reading, including the above-mentioned book. I've used the strong stuff (28 percent, purchased from blueprint supply place), and I highly advise the use of a respirator and eye protection. I set my tent up in my detached garage. I’d never do this in my house.
The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).
Comment from contributor A:
Fuming oak is simple and fun - just need to follow some precautions, like plenty of ventilation. I love the rich chocolate brown color it gives, too. The only challenge I've found is that different pieces of oak react differently to the ammonia fumes. I did the slats of a park bench (for inside use) and some are deep brown and others are almost white. Still, it makes for an interesting effect - especially on the boards I glued up to create the right thickness - they're like oreo cookies.