Mahogany Kitchen Stool Project #12: Oxidizing for color

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Blog entry by sras posted 06-23-2012 09:52 PM 10065 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: Shaping and sanding Part 12 of Mahogany Kitchen Stool Project series Part 13: Mask & Prep for finish »

Yes – oxidize. Not stain. Not dye.

Alin Dobra posted a very informative blog on using potassium dichromate to cause wood to darken the same way it does when exposed to sunlight. I’ll let you read his entry to learn about the technique. These stools will eventually be sitting around the island in our kitchen. The sun will only land on the top part of the backs and I don’t want them to develop “tan lines”.

This was my first experience with the technique. I coated the surface twice to make sure I had uniform coverage. You can see how much darker the mahogany is after treatment. The two pieces on the right were just coated.

After the surface was dry, I sanded each surface with 320, 400 and 600 grit.

This process caused me to lay out all the parts at once. These next pictures give a pretty good view of the number of pieces in this project. I had to clean off my workbench just to find space!

The total is 156 pieces of mahogany.

And 24 pieces of maple.


Current time log:

Cutting rough stock: 2 hr

> Cutting to width and thickness: 4 hr 20 min
> Cut to final length: 3 hr 30 min
> Shaping: 5 hr 50 min
> Mortises: 10 hr 35 min
> Sand & radius edges: 19 hr 35 min
> Oxidize and Final sanding: 3 hr 10 min

Seat Back and Back Rest
> Cutting thin stock for laminations: 3 hr 35 min
> Prepping laminations: 8 hr 40 min
> Glue up Laminations: 3 hr 50 min
> Trim Laminated Parts: 2 hr 25 min
> Tenon: 5 hr 40 min
> Mortises: 5 hr 30 min
> Sand & radius edges: 6 hr 10 min
> Oxidize and Final sanding: 1 hr 20 min

Back Slats
> Cutting thin stock for laminations: 1 hr 55 min
> Prepping laminations: 3 hr
> Glue up Laminations: 6 hr 5 min
> Trim Laminated Parts: 30 min
> Tenon: 2 hr 50 min
> Sand: 7 hr 35 min
> Oxidize and Final sanding: 1 hr 30 min

Lower rail parts
> Cut to width and thickness: 10 hr
> Cut to length: 1 hr 30 min
> Mortise: 4 hr 35 min
> Tenon: 28 hr 30 min
> Sand & radius edges: 15 hr 35 min
> Oxidize and Final sanding: 3 hr 40 min

Corner Blocks
> Cut to size: 1 hr 50 min
> Shape: 1 hr 50 min
> Tenons: 35 min
> Holes: 1 hr

Total so far: 178 hr 40 min (~30 hrs per stool)

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

5 comments so far

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3405 days

#1 posted 06-24-2012 12:03 AM

Very interesting. That Mahogany is really gr8 lookin. Lotsa mortise & tenons there.. pieces n parts, oh my..

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View JL7's profile


8762 posts in 3566 days

#2 posted 06-24-2012 12:31 AM

Steve – this is quite and epic project…...interesting concept using the chemical process. Build on!

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View stefang's profile


17034 posts in 3935 days

#3 posted 06-24-2012 06:22 AM

Very interesting Steve. Something I’ve never heard about before. Where do you buy the chemicals? This is a big project which would be very taxing on most small workshops, but you have really done a lot of great work with it so far.

It looks to me that you will soon be into the glue-up stage. I can imagine that you will face some challenges there as well, and I look forward to seeing how you do it. The blog and the work is so well organized that it should set an excellent example and show folks a very good way to produce high quality multiples.

I can’t wait to see the finished stools in your kitchen!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4483 days

#4 posted 06-24-2012 11:42 AM

Zowie. Serious production.

That looks great Steve.
Quite the project. I love it.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View sras's profile


5284 posts in 3730 days

#5 posted 06-24-2012 01:38 PM

Thanks for the comments!

Roger – I haven’t counted the number of mortise and tenons yet. Just recently I counted up the parts. I think I’ll put the tenons count in the next post.

Jeff – I am on a roll now. The finish process is under way – it keeps me committed as it works best to minimize the time between coats.

Mike – I got the potassium dichromate on eBay. It is not expensive, I got about a pint (1/2 liter) for less than $15 US including shipping. It takes a small amount to coat a lot of wood. I have more than I can ever use. If anyone in the Portland/Vancouver area wants some, I’ll give it to them – I don’t want to send chemicals through the mail though.

One advantage to the slow pace on this project is that I need time to ponder the next step. I am pre-finishing the parts and the glue up has me thinking about keep assemblies square without marring the finish.

Steve – Thanks! I should have another post up shortly.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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