Friday, February 5, 2010

Now THAT'S Fumed

I like to fume the wedges and pins for my oak rockers ahead of the rest of the chair to create contrast. When I opened the tupperware container that I use for this, to my surprise, I had left it full of pieces and actively fuming for about 6 months!! As you can see below, with a freshly cut piece for contrast, the parts are downright black.

I've always wondered how far I could take the fuming and how long it would take to get the maximum depth of color. I use janitorial strength ammonia, which doesn't have the kick (or as much danger) as the blueprinting stuff. I suppose some experiments are called for, or, I could just make neglect a part of the process.

Below, you can see that I've made a pattern using my fancy new profile gauge and used it to carve the seat on my latest chair. It was interesting to use such a distinct reference, I liked it.

Looking at many chairs to arrive at the shape brought to light some interesting notions. My goal is to carve a seat that is deep enough to avoid pressure spots, but also broad enough to allow easy movement. Then there also is the issue of removing enough material from the front of the seat so that the circulation isn't cut off to the sitters legs. Depending on the style of seat, this can be more or less difficult to achieve. I must admit, those upholsterers might have some advantages!

Once the chair is done and I can truly test the shape out I'll post a measured drawing of the templates that I used.


Tico Vogt said...

Years ago I did an article in FWW about fuming a white oak bookcase. I built a large, tight polyethylene structure around it with a removable front panel to allow loading. Shallow pie tins on the bottom got the ammonia poured into them and a small fan created some air movement. The stuff I used was from a chemical supply place and, man,it was horrible. I was in treacherous toxic territory. At that concentration you could observe the wood darken pretty rapidly, immediately above the tins, eventually over the whole thing. Done by morning, but who wanted to open that loading door? Nowadays I like to use a homemade rust mix I get for free from the old iron pot ontop of our woodstove that produces a nice thick slurry before all the water boils out.


Peter Galbert said...

The only time that I used the real harsh stuff was for a table I made in NYC. I ended up fuming it in a tent that I built on the sidewalk in front of my 5th street storefront. It was much to my horror when I realized that the fumes were wafting down to the sidewalk cafe next door. Ah, youthful ignorance and exuberance, a dangerous combo!