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Fuming White Oak in Winter

4004 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Triumph1
I am just finishing up a project where I used quartersawn white oak. I want to fume the oak. I have all the safety gear and I have constructed a fuming chamber using a large plastic tote. I have put gasketing around the lid portion to really seal off the chamber. My question is the temperature at which you can fume. Being in northern Illinois it is a bit cold outside. Has anyone fumed oak in temperatures that ranged between 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit? I know 70-80 degrees is preferred. The only way I could reach those temperatures is to bring the sealed chamber into the shop….so prep it all outside, seal it and then bring it in.

Just wondering if anyone has done it. Trying to get a little feed back on the time it will take and if the low temperature changed the look. I have researched this quite extensively on the web already so I just wanted to ask fellow Lumberjocks.

Thank you in advance!
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I fumed lumber all the time when I lived in Maine. My shop would drop down to about 40 - 45 at night and I had no problems with the fuming. You can give it extra time, if you think you want to get it as dark as possible. Usually, in about 24-30 hours the wood will darken the most. After that is a waste of time. I do all of my fuming in the shop. I doesn't require a great amount of sealing to keep the ammonia in the chamber.
I've fumed in fairly low temperatures, since I always do it outdoors - perhaps not quite that low, but certainly well below 70°F. I haven't noticed any difference. As long as the temperature is high enough for the ammonia to get out of the water (so actual freezing probably isn't good), it'll get into the oak, and the magic will happen. Reactions normally happen more slowly at low temperatures, so it might take a bit longer - I've never done a comparative test - I just fume until it's fumed enough - that's varied between a couple of hours and a couple of days, but I think it depends a lot more on the oak in question and how much ammonia you put in, than the temperature. I strongly recommend you do not do this indoors.
If it's critical you could always do a test piece to make sure nothing weird happens.
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Thank you very much guys for answering back gentleman. It is all wrapped up, sealed and sitting in an open air room. Can't wait to open it tomorrow and see the change!
So, how did it come out, Jeff? I've done a little fuming with white oak right in my shop. Wasn't a big deal as far as fumes. I even did mine in a large garbage bag with the ammonia sitting in a bowl in the bottom. I just tie the top shut and no problems.
One tip I learned was that the colder the temperature, the more likely the wood will turn more green. The warmer the temperature, it will tend to turn red. Hope this helps, albeit a bit late.
Brad…the fuming came out absolutely beautiful. I can't wait to post the box on here. A little bit more drying time and it is ready for the waxing and internal fabric. I read the same thing on temperature. That is why I did what they say not to…I brought it into the house. I did all the loading of the chamber outside and sealed it up. Before anybody freaks out though I had made a chamber that was air tight. I even wrapped it with the clear wrap used in wrapping pallets. There was no way it was going to leak. If it wasn't winter I would have definitely done it outside.

So yes…love the fuming process. The rich brown it turned is beautiful. I had thrown some scrap in the bin also. I cracked the piece in half (6" x 2" x 3/4") and the color had gone all the way through the piece. That was after 28 hours of fuming.
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