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Thread: results of fuming chestnut with household ammonia

  1. #1

    Default results of fuming chestnut with household ammonia

    I often read about ammonia fuming and that it couldn't be done with household ammonia because it wasn't strong enough.

    Humm...maybe it could work for small stuff (like boxes or bowls) if one used a large amount of household ammonia in a small enough container for a long enough period of time.

    Decided to try it using a bunch of scraps, a small airtight container (5 gallon drum) and a large amount of household ammonia (about 3/4 liters) and let it fume for 36 hours to see what would happen.

    Used a sample of every wood I had at hand: birch, cherry, chestnut, fir, mahogany, maple, pine, oak (white and red), and walnut.

    Well "they" were mostly right.

    Most of the samples had no reaction.

    Cherry and oak darkened just a tiny bit, barley worth mentioning and definitely not worth doing.

    Only chestnut darkened significantly, and it looks gorgeous.

    Here is a picture of the results:

    left side is fumed and 1/2 coated with spar, right side is not fumed and 1/2 coated with spar
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. Default

    The unfinished wood really doesn’t look much different from one shot to the next, but once the finished is applied it really does make a difference. So what exactly is the proper method of fuming?

    Brian

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Mount Hope Ont.
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    J.P.

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    Thanx for posting this Joseph.
    I was thinking about trying some fuming myself and you have saved me some head aches.
    I wasn't aware that the fuming didn't darken the sapwood. In fact, I was under the impression it would even out the colour better than stain.
    I also didn't know household ammonia didn't work as well. That's what I was planing on using.
    Is there another ammonia that's supposed to be used?
    I'm surprised to hear it didn't work on oak. That's what I was planing on trying it on and thought it would be fine.
    I can now scratch that particular test off my to do list. You saved me some time and trouble.
    Thanx.
    J.P. Rap Mount Hope Ont.
    Carpe Ductum (Seize The Tape)


    "In this world, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. Elwood P. Dowd

  4. #4

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    Hi guys,

    apparently household ammonia is only 5-8% of full strength, and most of the literature says that you need 25-35% strength.

    You can get the stuff from the places that still print real blueprints.

    Its really dangerous and should be handled very carefully.

    Here is a link to an article and video that explains everything much better than I can:

    http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworki....aspx?id=26969
    Last edited by Joseph; 05-13-2008 at 06:03 PM. Reason: speelign

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Burlington, Ontario
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    350

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph View Post
    Hi guys,

    apparently household ammonia is only 5-8% of full strength, and most of the literature says that you need 25-35% strength.

    You can get the stuff from the places that still print real blueprints.

    Its really dangerous and should be handled very carefully.

    Here is a link to an article and video that explains everything much better than I can:

    http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworki....aspx?id=26969
    Can't emphasize enough that concentrated ammonia is VERY dangerous. Inhaling even small quatities can lead to death and it is a very painful death. The ammonia fumes will combine with any water that they come in contact with (such as the mucosal lining of your throat and lungs). Once dissolved in the water you have concentrated ammonium hydroxide which is a very caustic base that will burn it's way through your lung tissue and you end up suffocating to death. Not a pleasant way to go! Take extreme car if you are going to mess with this stuff.
    Doug

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Mount Hope Ont.
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    7,534
    Real Name
    J.P.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug in Burlington View Post
    Can't emphasize enough that concentrated ammonia is VERY dangerous. Inhaling even small quatities can lead to death and it is a very painful death. The ammonia fumes will combine with any water that they come in contact with (such as the mucosal lining of your throat and lungs). Once dissolved in the water you have concentrated ammonium hydroxide which is a very caustic base that will burn it's way through your lung tissue and you end up suffocating to death. Not a pleasant way to go! Take extreme car if you are going to mess with this stuff.
    Doug
    Thanx for the warning. It's good to know for those of us who are thinking of trying it.
    J.P. Rap Mount Hope Ont.
    Carpe Ductum (Seize The Tape)


    "In this world, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. Elwood P. Dowd

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