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Thread: Fumed Oak Bowl

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Fumed Oak Bowl

    I was digging through some photos and realized I hadn't posted this one. I finished it up a bit more than a month ago, and it sold since then. This is some local oak I got this spring. Out of 7 or 8 bowls I roughed out, this is the only one I've finished, The rest of them warped, cracked, or both so badly that I probably won't be able to get anything decent from them. This was the first oak I've turned, and it wasn't as bad as some people make it out to be, although it wasn't great, either. For grins, I darkened the wood by fuming it with ammonia. I put the finish-sanded bowl in a lidded plastic bin with a couple tuna fish cans of household ammonia and left it sealed overnight. By the next day, the ammonia smell was gone, but the wood wasn't as dark as I wanted, so I loaded up some fresh ammonia and did it for another overnight fuming. In the end, the fumed oak looked like something you'd find in a room with lots of Arts and Crafts style furniture.

    I'm guessing this one ended up at about 14" wide by about 2 1/2" tall. Never did measure it before I sold it.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Nothin' fancy...just a bowl.

    Comments and critiques are welcome as usual -
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  2. #2
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    Looking good Vaughn, I have a question in regards to the knots. Is there anything to watch out for when dealing with knots or loose material? I can see that they are attractive in the finished bowl. That is interesting how you darkened the bowl. Is there any wood that reacts better or worse to that treatment?
    Daily Thought: SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES..... NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS...............

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Watson View Post
    Looking good Vaughn, I have a question in regards to the knots. Is there anything to watch out for when dealing with knots or loose material? I can see that they are attractive in the finished bowl. That is interesting how you darkened the bowl. Is there any wood that reacts better or worse to that treatment?
    Drew, if something is visibly loose, I'll either remove it or glue it in place before I continue turning. Aside from that, I don't do anything special when I run into knots and bark inclusions. Sharp tools, as always, are a big plus.

    As I understand it, the fuming works by the ammonia vapors reacting with the tannins in the wood. Oak is the only wood I've seen it done with, but I'm sure there are other woods that would react.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  4. #4
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    Amherst, New Hampshire
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    Very interesting. Nice bowl Vaughn.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    bethel springs TN, but was born and raised in north east PA
    Posts
    3,132
    nice oak bowl. I have 2 oak blanks in brown bags that i turned a couple weeks ago. I looked at them, yesterday and no cracks yet but they are warping. i sure hope at least one dryes out where i can use it,but as you said they sure do have a tendasy to go bonkers. I think out of about 10 oak blanks i've tryed i've only got one that was worth keeping so far.

  6. #6
    QUOTE "This article is from the Woodworking FAQ Collection 1, by multiple authors.

    35 Ammonia Fuming: Introduction:

    G. Stickley published the following legend about the origin of ammonia
    fuming:

    "Some oak boards stored in a stable in England were found after a time to
    have taken on a beautiful mellow brown tone and on investigation this
    change in color was discovered to be due to the ammonia fumes that
    naturally are present in stables."
    [Gustav Stickley, in "Craftsman Homes" (1909)]

    According to Gustav Stickley, this (color formation) phenomenon first
    became understood after work was done in his Craftsman Workshops which
    showed that the dark color was "due to the chemical affinity existing
    between ammonia and tannic acid of which there is a large percentage
    present in white oak." Consequently, other tannin-containing woods such as
    cherry and chestnut could also be fumed, but the "fuming" process is
    commonly done only with oak.

    For pieces in the Arts and Crafts style, the use of white oak and ammonia
    fuming gives an authentic look, although certainly stains were employed by
    Stickley and others during the A&C period. It should be noted that the
    fuming treatment does not "finish" the wood, but merely changes the color
    to a deep brown tone. Application of a clear penetrating (and/or surface)
    finish is required as the final step, to give protection as well as
    significant color depth ."

    paul
    Remember the tea kettle - it is always up to its neck in hot water, yet it
    still sings!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Goodland, Kansas
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    Great looking bowl Vaughn. Really like how the color turned out.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  8. #8
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    DSM, IA
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    Looks great Vaughn. Glad to see that household ammonia works, I thought you needed the industrial strength stuff.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    Harvey, Michigan
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    Vaughn - very impressive color change! Will have to keep this option in mind when it comes to coloring! Thanks!

    Oh...... Congrats on the sale!
    Steve

  10. #10
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    Nov 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    Drew, if something is visibly loose, I'll either remove it or glue it in place before I continue turning. Aside from that, I don't do anything special when I run into knots and bark inclusions. Sharp tools, as always, are a big plus.

    As I understand it, the fuming works by the ammonia vapors reacting with the tannins in the wood. Oak is the only wood I've seen it done with, but I'm sure there are other woods that would react.
    Thanks Vaughn that is great to know. I definatly have to learn to sharpen the tools better. I was playing around last night with the grinder and must have done something right as they were cutting a bit better, but still not getting the huge curls off the work as I have seen by other turners. I was almost there with turning a bowl and the sides broke out in places. Guess cedar isn't the best wood to turn with.
    Daily Thought: SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES..... NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS...............

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