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Fuming Oak?

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  • Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart
    So who has done it and how? I would be doing two of these..... Could I do it once it was assembled? ( None of the working joints are really tight so that it
    Message 1 of 19 , May 5, 2008
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      So who has done it and how?

      I would be doing two of these.....

      Could I do it once it was assembled?
      ( None of the working joints are really tight so that
      it still opens and closes in high humidity....Could it be
      fumed after assembly? )



       
      Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart

      Aude Aliquid Dignum
      ' Dare Something Worthy '



      Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile. Try it now.
    • Eric
      I haven t fumed anything yet, but many mission/arts and crafts furniture construction books cover the process pretty well. In the sections that I have read,
      Message 2 of 19 , May 5, 2008
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        I haven't fumed anything yet, but many mission/arts and crafts
        furniture construction books cover the process pretty well. In the
        sections that I have read, most fuming is done after assembly. The
        longer that the item is fumed, the darker it end up as. Another
        reminder, the fumed item doesn't look very dark until a finish has
        been applied, kind of like those "magic pens" whose writing changes
        color when another pen painted over the area.

        Eirikr

        --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart
        <baronconal@...> wrote:
        >
        > So who has done it and how?
        >
        > I would be doing two of these.....
        >
        > Could I do it once it was assembled?
        > ( None of the working joints are really tight so that
        > it still opens and closes in high humidity....Could it be
        > fumed after assembly? )
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart
        >
        > Aude Aliquid Dignum
        > ' Dare Something Worthy '
        >
      • the_spanishpeacock@comcast.net
        Tent it with plastic ( not touching the furniture) and stick a bowl of amonia in there with it. I did a red oak bench, which darkened a bit, but not nearly as
        Message 3 of 19 , May 5, 2008
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          Tent it with plastic ( not touching the furniture) and stick a bowl of amonia in there with it.  I did a red oak bench, which darkened a bit, but not nearly as much as white oak would. 
           
           Contact Jeff Johnson   jljonsn9663@... ....he is in the group.   He has done some incredible work with fuming.
           
          Miguel
           
          -------------- Original message --------------
          From: Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart <baronconal@...>

          So who has done it and how?

          I would be doing two of these.....

          Could I do it once it was assembled?
          ( None of the working joints are really tight so that
          it still opens and closes in high humidity.... Could it be
          fumed after assembly? )



           
          Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart

          Aude Aliquid Dignum
          ' Dare Something Worthy '



          Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile. Try it now.

        • Rhys Terafan Greydragon
          Greetings from Terafan, Conal, I am curious what is wrong with the color you made them? They are a perfectly natural medieval color. Fresh white oak
          Message 4 of 19 , May 5, 2008
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            Greetings from Terafan,
             
               
            Conal, I am curious what is wrong with the color you made them?  They are a perfectly natural medieval color.  Fresh white oak furniture made in the middle ages was quite light like yours are.    It is *much more* medieval and authentic to have a NEW chair, like a good noble would have had, rather than some old dingy thing that was 400 or 500 years old and was dark from too much smoke, body oils, and who knows what...
             

            cheers,
               Terafan
             
            Master Rhys Terafan Greydragon     terafan@...
            Brewer, Tent and Furniture maker, and other things I can't remember... 


            From: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com [mailto:medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart
            Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 4:05 PM
            To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [MedievalSawdust] Fuming Oak?

            So who has done it and how?

            I would be doing two of these.....

            Could I do it once it was assembled?
            ( None of the working joints are really tight so that
            it still opens and closes in high humidity.... Could it be
            fumed after assembly? )



             
            Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart

            Aude Aliquid Dignum
            ' Dare Something Worthy '



            Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile. Try it now.

          • Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart
            What might I get if I fumed the original prototype I made for the foldstools.... Red Oak a few years old... never had a finish applied... still bare wood.....
            Message 5 of 19 , May 5, 2008
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              What might I get if I fumed the original prototype I made for the
              foldstools.... Red Oak a few years old... never had a finish applied...
              still bare wood..... I could pull the pins and sand it I guess but between
              the legs and seat slats would be difficult.....
               
              Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart

              Aude Aliquid Dignum
              ' Dare Something Worthy '


              ----- Original Message ----
              From: "the_spanishpeacock@..." <the_spanishpeacock@...>
              To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Monday, May 5, 2008 7:39:10 PM
              Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Fuming Oak?

              Tent it with plastic ( not touching the furniture) and stick a bowl of amonia in there with it.  I did a red oak bench, which darkened a bit, but not nearly as much as white oak would. 
               
               Contact Jeff Johnson   jljonsn9663@ yahoo.com ....he is in the group.   He has done some incredible work with fuming.
               
              Miguel
               
              ------------ -- Original message ------------ --
              From: Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart <baronconal@yahoo. com>

              So who has done it and how?

              I would be doing two of these.....

              Could I do it once it was assembled?
              ( None of the working joints are really tight so that
              it still opens and closes in high humidity.... Could it be
              fumed after assembly? )



               
              Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart

              Aude Aliquid Dignum
              ' Dare Something Worthy '



              Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile. Try it now.



              Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile. Try it now.
            • AlbionWood
              I ve done it. The Rohirric chest (which by the way might be for sale - original owner in cash-flow situation) was fumed. It is easy and can be done after
              Message 6 of 19 , May 5, 2008
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                I've done it.  The Rohirric chest (which by the way might be for sale - original owner in cash-flow situation) was fumed.

                It is easy and can be done after assembly.  You just have to make a fuming chamber - basically a plasti
                c tent big enough to hold the object with room all the way around for circulation.  The amount and strength of ammonia needed will depend on the size of the chamber (not the object).  For something about 2x2x4 feet, use about a cup of household ammonia in a wide shallow dish.  Place the dish anywhere in the chamber - centered is best, but it's not critical - and then seal up the chamber by taping all the seams etc.  Leave it alone for at least 12 hours; the reaction time is dependent on ammonia concentration (in the air) and temperature.  The reaction goes deeper and gets darker with time, up to a point, after which it's as dark as it's going to get.  This usually is about 24 hours.  You can experiment with your setup using some scraps to see how long it takes to get the look you want.

                Once it's fumed, take it out and finish it.  The raw wood will look awful - kind of a cold greenish-gray - but when you hit it with finish, especially oil, it will immediately transform into a rich deep brown.  Caveat: the reaction only takes place in heartwood.  Any sapwood will remain its original light color, contrasting sharply with the darker fumed heartwood. Also, note that fuming darkens the rays and the ground equally, unlike staining.

                Warnings:  Keep aluminum away from this operation - ammonia corrodes it.  Don't even think of doing this indoors.  The ammonia gas is corrosive, not only to aluminum but to your mucous membranes as well, and getting any in your eyes is just too horrible to contemplate; so goggle up when you open the chamber.  Set up the opening so you don't get a blast of ammonia gas in your face; open the chamber, let the gas dissipate, then go back and take out the object.

                One nice thing is ammonia is not toxic.  Pour the spent liquid on the ground, in fact you can dilute it with water and spread it around plants as fertilizer.


                Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart wrote:
                So who has done it and how?

                I would be doing two of these.....

                Could I do it once it was assembled?
                ( None of the working joints are really tight so that
                it still opens and closes in high humidity....Could it be
                fumed after assembly? )



                 
                Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart

                Aude Aliquid Dignum
                ' Dare Something Worthy '



                Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile. Try it now.
              • Jim Engebretson
                It s very important that you use a glass jar to hold the ammonia. I ve read that a metal dish can cause an deadly gas cloud reaction. Here are some useful web
                Message 7 of 19 , May 6, 2008
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                  It’s very important that you use a glass jar to hold the ammonia. I’ve read that a metal dish can cause an deadly gas cloud reaction. Here are some useful web pages about fuming.

                   

                  http://www.codesmiths.com/shed/workshop/techniques/oakfuming/

                  http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_base/Fuming_white_oak.html

                  http://www.djmarks.com/stories/djm/Fuming_Wood_47692.asp

                  http://www.woodcentral.com/cgi-bin/readarticle.pl?dir=finishing&file=articles_311.shtml

                   

                  I recommend using  plastic tented are for the piece.  When removing tent, use fans to vent while you wear an air respirator mask.

                   

                  Jim Engebretson

                  http://www.jimetc.com

                   

                • julian wilson
                  Greetings from Terafan, Conal, I am curious what is wrong with the color you made them? They are a perfectly natural medieval color. SNIPPED FOR BREVITY -
                  Message 8 of 19 , May 6, 2008
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                    Greetings from Terafan,


                    Conal, I am curious what is wrong with the color you made them? They are a perfectly natural medieval color. SNIPPED FOR BREVITY - was dark from too much smoke, body oils, and who knows what...
                    cheers,
                    Terafan


                    FURTHER COMMENT

                    Conal,
                    this humble veteran soldier would go even further than Master Terafan.

                    IMHO, if your medieval persona had commissioned such high-status objects for your House, you'd most-likely have sent them to the local Journeyman or Master of the Limners Guild to be properly decorated in bright colours, with devices appertaining to your Emblazon, if not others from your Achievement.
                    Only those gentles too poor to afford the Painting would have "suffered" wooden objects of otherwise high-quality showing the timber grain.

                    There are too many examples of high-status medieval items made from high-quality timber in Museums, wtih Museum-catalogue comments that the piece shows "traces of Polychrome".

                    And without even trying hard, I can think of  the roofs of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, - of Westminster Hall; - and of the Brothers' Hall at The Almshouse of Noble Poverty, St. Cross, Winchester, - of a Livery Chest in the Tower Collection, and the "Treaty of Calais" coffer in the UK National Archives - which have retained part - or all of their original painted decoration.
                    About 10 years back, as part of a project on surviving medieval woodwork items, - I composed a list of such artifacts  from the UK, and from France, and from Germany, - and was quite startled to discover how many had obviously been painted overall, "in-period". Because, until that point, I'd not even thought about timber being darekend from it's original natural colour by the dirt of age and use.

                    IMHO, "showing the timber grain" was a 16th and 17th Century "Fashion" to show you could afford to commission a Piece using increasingly rare high-quality timber, or made from one of the imported, expensive "exotics". And that "Fashion" rightly belongs to the 16th & 17th centuries, when demand for quality timber for building ships for national navies, and timber-framed houses for the rising European population, - had caused increasing scarcity of high-quality European hardwoods  - such as oak and chestnut.
                     
                    In humble Service to The Light, the SCA Dream, and to Drachenwald.
                    Matthew Baker
                  • Bill McNutt
                    And yet, for some reason, I simply cannot force myself to paint over walnut or oak. Will _____ From: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
                    Message 9 of 19 , May 6, 2008
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                      And yet, for some reason, I simply cannot force myself to paint over walnut or oak.
                       
                      Will


                      From: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com [mailto:medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of julian wilson
                      Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 1:12 PM
                      To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: RE: [MedievalSawdust] Fuming Oak?

                      Greetings from Terafan,


                      Conal, I am curious what is wrong with the color you made them? They are a perfectly natural medieval color. SNIPPED FOR BREVITY - was dark from too much smoke, body oils, and who knows what...
                      cheers,
                      Terafan


                      FURTHER COMMENT

                      Conal,
                      this humble veteran soldier would go even further than Master Terafan.

                      IMHO, if your medieval persona had commissioned such high-status objects for your House, you'd most-likely have sent them to the local Journeyman or Master of the Limners Guild to be properly decorated in bright colours, with devices appertaining to your Emblazon, if not others from your Achievement.
                      Only those gentles too poor to afford the Painting would have "suffered" wooden objects of otherwise high-quality showing the timber grain.

                      There are too many examples of high-status medieval items made from high-quality timber in Museums, wtih Museum-catalogue comments that the piece shows "traces of Polychrome".

                      And without even trying hard, I can think of  the roofs of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, - of Westminster Hall; - and of the Brothers' Hall at The Almshouse of Noble Poverty, St. Cross, Winchester, - of a Livery Chest in the Tower Collection, and the "Treaty of Calais" coffer in the UK National Archives - which have retained part - or all of their original painted decoration.
                      About 10 years back, as part of a project on surviving medieval woodwork items, - I composed a list of such artifacts  from the UK, and from France, and from Germany, - and was quite startled to discover how many had obviously been painted overall, "in-period". Because, until that point, I'd not even thought about timber being darekend from it's original natural colour by the dirt of age and use.

                      IMHO, "showing the timber grain" was a 16th and 17th Century "Fashion" to show you could afford to commission a Piece using increasingly rare high-quality timber, or made from one of the imported, expensive "exotics". And that "Fashion" rightly belongs to the 16th & 17th centuries, when demand for quality timber for building ships for national navies, and timber-framed houses for the rising European population, - had caused increasing scarcity of high-quality European hardwoods  - such as oak and chestnut.
                       
                      In humble Service to The Light, the SCA Dream, and to Drachenwald.
                      Matthew Baker

                    • julian wilson
                      Will, that isn t really too surprising. Think about it. When such timber was common and local in medieval Europe, - it was over 500 years ago., Since
                      Message 10 of 19 , May 6, 2008
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                        Will, that isn't really too surprising. Think about it.  When such timber was "common " and "local" in medieval Europe, - it was over 500 years ago.,

                         Since then, increasing populations, and increasing commercial demand, and increasing deforestation have conditioned all of us in the woodworking community to appreciate the fine grain and colour of High-quality timber.

                        So we all have a half-millenium of that later "conditioning" in the real world to overcome.

                        However, for what it's worth, I don't make SCA-period furniture items from any of the hardwoods any longer.

                         I use the best clear-run Pine I can lay my hands on; - and - if it's for my own SCA use - I decorate it with House Colours and Devices. If it's a commission, I tell the customer my theory, quote a few examples, and cost the item in Pine for him/her to decorate; or in oak or walnut, or ash or yew or apple or chestnut, with me applying a translucent finish the customer has chosen.

                         

                        Regards,

                        Matthew

                        --- On Tue, 6/5/08, Bill McNutt <mcnutt@...> wrote:

                        From: Bill McNutt <mcnutt@...>
                        Subject: RE: [MedievalSawdust] Fuming Oak?
                        To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
                        Date: Tuesday, 6 May, 2008, 6:30 PM

                        And yet, for some reason, I simply cannot force myself to paint over walnut or oak.
                         
                        Will


                        From: medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com [mailto:medievalsaw dust@yahoogroups .com] On Behalf Of julian wilson
                        Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 1:12 PM
                        To: medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com
                        Subject: RE: [MedievalSawdust] Fuming Oak?

                        Greetings from Terafan,


                        Conal, I am curious what is wrong with the color you made them? They are a perfectly natural medieval color. SNIPPED FOR BREVITY - was dark from too much smoke, body oils, and who knows what...
                        cheers,
                        Terafan


                        FURTHER COMMENT

                        Conal,
                        this humble veteran soldier would go even further than Master Terafan.

                        IMHO, if your medieval persona had commissioned such high-status objects for your House, you'd most-likely have sent them to the local Journeyman or Master of the Limners Guild to be properly decorated in bright colours, with devices appertaining to your Emblazon, if not others from your Achievement.
                        Only those gentles too poor to afford the Painting would have "suffered" wooden objects of otherwise high-quality showing the timber grain.

                        There are too many examples of high-status medieval items made from high-quality timber in Museums, wtih Museum-catalogue comments that the piece shows "traces of Polychrome".

                        And without even trying hard, I can think of  the roofs of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, - of Westminster Hall; - and of the Brothers' Hall at The Almshouse of Noble Poverty, St. Cross, Winchester, - of a Livery Chest in the Tower Collection, and the "Treaty of Calais" coffer in the UK National Archives - which have retained part - or all of their original painted decoration.
                        About 10 years back, as part of a project on surviving medieval woodwork items, - I composed a list of such artifacts  from the UK, and from France, and from Germany, - and was quite startled to discover how many had obviously been painted overall, "in-period". Because, until that point, I'd not even thought about timber being darekend from it's original natural colour by the dirt of age and use.

                        IMHO, "showing the timber grain" was a 16th and 17th Century "Fashion" to show you could afford to commission a Piece using increasingly rare high-quality timber, or made from one of the imported, expensive "exotics". And that "Fashion" rightly belongs to the 16th & 17th centuries, when demand for quality timber for building ships for national navies, and timber-framed houses for the rising European population, - had caused increasing scarcity of high-quality European hardwoods  - such as oak and chestnut.
                         
                        In humble Service to The Light, the SCA Dream, and to Drachenwald.
                        Matthew Baker

                      • Bill McNutt
                        I can t deny it. I also have an unfortunate visceral response to brightly colored furniture. It looks like something Fisher-Price would put out. (That is:
                        Message 11 of 19 , May 6, 2008
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                          I can't deny it.  I also have an unfortunate visceral response to brightly colored furniture.
                           
                          It looks like something Fisher-Price would put out.
                           
                          (That is:  appropriate for a kiddie playroom.)
                           
                          I can't help it.
                           
                          Will


                          From: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com [mailto:medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of julian wilson
                          Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 1:47 PM
                          To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: RE: [MedievalSawdust] Fuming Oak?

                          Will, that isn't really too surprising. Think about it.  When such timber was "common " and "local" in medieval Europe, - it was over 500 years ago.,

                           Since then, increasing populations, and increasing commercial demand, and increasing deforestation have conditioned all of us in the woodworking community to appreciate the fine grain and colour of High-quality timber.

                          So we all have a half-millenium of that later "conditioning" in the real world to overcome.

                          However, for what it's worth, I don't make SCA-period furniture items from any of the hardwoods any longer.

                           I use the best clear-run Pine I can lay my hands on; - and - if it's for my own SCA use - I decorate it with House Colours and Devices. If it's a commission, I tell the customer my theory, quote a few examples, and cost the item in Pine for him/her to decorate; or in oak or walnut, or ash or yew or apple or chestnut, with me applying a translucent finish the customer has chosen.

                           

                          Regards,

                          Matthew

                          --- On Tue, 6/5/08, Bill McNutt <mcnutt@pobox. com> wrote:

                          From: Bill McNutt <mcnutt@pobox. com>
                          Subject: RE: [MedievalSawdust] Fuming Oak?
                          To: medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com
                          Date: Tuesday, 6 May, 2008, 6:30 PM

                          And yet, for some reason, I simply cannot force myself to paint over walnut or oak.
                           
                          Will


                          From: medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com [mailto:medievalsaw dust@yahoogroups .com] On Behalf Of julian wilson
                          Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 1:12 PM
                          To: medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com
                          Subject: RE: [MedievalSawdust] Fuming Oak?

                          Greetings from Terafan,


                          Conal, I am curious what is wrong with the color you made them? They are a perfectly natural medieval color. SNIPPED FOR BREVITY - was dark from too much smoke, body oils, and who knows what...
                          cheers,
                          Terafan


                          FURTHER COMMENT

                          Conal,
                          this humble veteran soldier would go even further than Master Terafan.

                          IMHO, if your medieval persona had commissioned such high-status objects for your House, you'd most-likely have sent them to the local Journeyman or Master of the Limners Guild to be properly decorated in bright colours, with devices appertaining to your Emblazon, if not others from your Achievement.
                          Only those gentles too poor to afford the Painting would have "suffered" wooden objects of otherwise high-quality showing the timber grain.

                          There are too many examples of high-status medieval items made from high-quality timber in Museums, wtih Museum-catalogue comments that the piece shows "traces of Polychrome".

                          And without even trying hard, I can think of  the roofs of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, - of Westminster Hall; - and of the Brothers' Hall at The Almshouse of Noble Poverty, St. Cross, Winchester, - of a Livery Chest in the Tower Collection, and the "Treaty of Calais" coffer in the UK National Archives - which have retained part - or all of their original painted decoration.
                          About 10 years back, as part of a project on surviving medieval woodwork items, - I composed a list of such artifacts  from the UK, and from France, and from Germany, - and was quite startled to discover how many had obviously been painted overall, "in-period". Because, until that point, I'd not even thought about timber being darekend from it's original natural colour by the dirt of age and use.

                          IMHO, "showing the timber grain" was a 16th and 17th Century "Fashion" to show you could afford to commission a Piece using increasingly rare high-quality timber, or made from one of the imported, expensive "exotics". And that "Fashion" rightly belongs to the 16th & 17th centuries, when demand for quality timber for building ships for national navies, and timber-framed houses for the rising European population, - had caused increasing scarcity of high-quality European hardwoods  - such as oak and chestnut.
                           
                          In humble Service to The Light, the SCA Dream, and to Drachenwald.
                          Matthew Baker

                        • Jeff Johnson
                          I ve done quite a bit of fuming, and my experiences have been similar to Albionwood s with regard to technique and result, with exception that I think fuming
                          Message 12 of 19 , May 7, 2008
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                            I've done quite a bit of fuming, and my experiences have been similar
                            to Albionwood's with regard to technique and result, with exception
                            that I think fuming actually enhances the medial rays more than stain,
                            which can hide their iridescent properties under the stain's component
                            particles. But, hey, he's one of the best reproduction furniture
                            makers out there, so I won't argue too much with him. ;)

                            I use a chamber made of 1" schedule 40 pvc with crosspieces/racks
                            every few inches to allow airflow around the pieces. I dry-assemble
                            standard-sized sections of pipes, which allows me to re-size the
                            chamber as needed. I wrap the chamber in 4mil plastic and tape it all
                            up, except for one end, which I close up after loading by folding the
                            plastic and weighting it with a brick. (I'm working on a description
                            and illustrations for my website). I do find that the process seems to
                            go faster in a warmer setting. (logical, as the ammonia evaporates
                            into the air of the chamber faster). I've used a candle under the
                            ammonia dish to accelerate the process, but usually it's not
                            necessary. Generally, you leave the ammonia in overnight, and if the
                            chamber doesn't smell too strongly of ammonia, then the process is
                            done. As Albion said, it doesn't look very impressive until you oil
                            it, then it comes to life!

                            The reason I started to do ammonia fuming is that white oak is a new
                            world wood, as is red oak. They just don't look like the medium-brown
                            woods you see in paintings. However, white oak has similar grain and
                            work properties to european (aka "Brown") oak species. Fuming white
                            oak brings it very close to the approximate color of European oaks,
                            after oiling. So, I consider it a good way to get the properties and
                            look of European oak without spending a bundle on importing the stuff.
                            Red oak will darken a little in fuming, but not enough, and it's not
                            as good a replacement, because you really can tell the difference
                            between the grain. Plus, white oak is far more weather resistant than
                            red - an important factor when you figure that so much furniture goes
                            to pennsic or other equally inhospitable climes. There's a reason
                            white oak is used for barrels. :)

                            Regarding painting, I think "not appreciating woodgrain" is a myth
                            perpetuated by a certain author. Whether they appreciated it or not,
                            there's not really that much painted furniture depicted in the period
                            artwork. You do find it as embellishment (usually added to carvings)
                            in finds, but it really isn't as common or practical to have painted
                            furniture that's subject to the rigors of life (then, or now in our
                            usual camp settings). I realize that I'm about to get contrary
                            opinions on this, but a quick survey of art will bear me out on the
                            "then" side, and a look at a couple of my dinged-up painted chests
                            will attest to the modern aspect.

                            Regards,

                            Jeff Johnson/Geoffrey Bourrette (SCA)
                          • Jeff Johnson
                            Regarding availability of hardwood lumber: I was talking to Gary Halstead/Ranulf at KASF and he related some surprising info about availability of wood in
                            Message 13 of 19 , May 8, 2008
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                              Regarding availability of hardwood lumber:

                              I was talking to Gary Halstead/Ranulf at KASF and he related some
                              surprising info about availability of wood in Europe in the later
                              middle ages. Apparently, the dendrochronology database has expanded
                              enough to allow researchers to be fairly precise about locating where
                              lumber came from geographically. The upshot of this is that
                              apparently, a great deal of hardwood lumber in Northern Europe was
                              being imported from Eastern Europe.

                              Regards,

                              Jeff Johnson/Geoffrey Bourette (SCA)

                              RE: [MedievalSawdust] Fuming Oak?

                              Will, that isn't really too surprising. Think about it. When such
                              timber was "common " and "local" in medieval Europe, - it was over 500
                              years ago.,

                              Since then, increasing populations, and increasing commercial demand,
                              and increasing deforestation have conditioned all of us in the
                              woodworking community to appreciate the fine grain and colour of
                              High-quality timber.

                              So we all have a half-millenium of that later "conditioning" in the
                              real world to overcome.

                              However, for what it's worth, I don't make SCA-period furniture items
                              from any of the hardwoods any longer.

                              I use the best clear-run Pine I can lay my hands on; - and - if it's
                              for my own SCA use - I decorate it with House Colours and Devices. If
                              it's a commission, I tell the customer my theory, quote a few
                              examples, and cost the item in Pine for him/her to decorate; or in oak
                              or walnut, or ash or yew or apple or chestnut, with me applying a
                              translucent finish the customer has chosen.



                              Regards,

                              Matthew
                            • AlbionWood
                              Jeff makes a good point: I think fuming actually enhances the medial rays more than stain, which can hide their iridescent properties under the stain s
                              Message 14 of 19 , May 8, 2008
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                                Jeff makes a good point:

                                I think fuming actually enhances the medial rays more than stain,
                                which can hide their iridescent properties under the stain's component
                                particles. 

                                This is certainly true if you're talking about pigmented stains, which do in fact tend to "muddy up" the surface of the wood.  Aniline dyes, on the other hand, are mostly transparent (no pigment particles) and allow more light penetration, which gives the impression of depth (that "iridescent property").  Both stains and dyes will tend to accentuate the ray-flake figure of white oak, because the rays are much denser and do not take and hold as much color as the background wood. 

                                Fuming darkens both rays and ground more or less evenly, however, the ray figure is still quite prominent because it reflects light differently.  You can see this effect in the photos of the Rohirric chest.

                                But, hey, he's one of the best reproduction furniture
                                makers out there, so I won't argue too much with him. ;)
                                  

                                Flattery is always appreciated - but so is a good argument!  :)

                                <snip - excellent description of fuming chamber construction and use>
                                Regarding painting, I think "not appreciating woodgrain" is a myth
                                perpetuated by a certain author. Whether they appreciated it or not,
                                there's not really that much painted furniture depicted in the period
                                artwork.

                                Whoa there- define "period."  This is mostly true for later period, especially North European 15th and 16th centuries.   But in 13th -14th century painting and illumination, almost everything is colored, or hidden by cloth.  Pre-13th c. the artwork is less representational and it's harder to tell just what is being depicted; nevertheless, furniture is generally depicted as colored or covered.


                                 You do find it as embellishment (usually added to carvings)
                                in finds, but it really isn't as common or practical to have painted
                                furniture that's subject to the rigors of life (then, or now in our
                                usual camp settings).

                                Camp furniture is hardly ever depicted in artwork earlier than the late 15th c. so it's hard to tell what it might have looked like.  I suspect you're probably right - the stuff that saw hard use would not have been painted, because paint was expensive and the sign of a luxury item.


                                I will say that I think making the West Kingdom Court Thrones out of white oak was a mistake.  Partway into the construction I realized that we should have specified something lighter (and easier to carve!) and proposed painting them instead of the natural wood finish.  Would have been more period and just as impressive, if not more so.  Perhaps when the finish on these degrades - as it inevitably will, given the kind of use they get, in a few years - the Kingdom will consider having them painted.  Foxworthy actually drew up some coloring schemes at one point, and we might have proposed a change order, but delivery was way overdue as it was so I stuck with the original proposal.

                                Cheers,
                                Tim (Colin)

                              • Jeff Johnson
                                Whoa there- define period. This is mostly true for later period, especially North European 15th and 16th centuries. But in 13th -14th century painting and
                                Message 15 of 19 , May 8, 2008
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                                  Whoa there- define "period."  This is mostly true for later period, especially North European 15th and 16th centuries.   But in 13th -14th century painting and illumination, almost everything is colored, or hidden by cloth.  Pre-13th c. the artwork is less representational and it's harder to tell just what is being depicted; nevertheless, furniture is generally depicted as colored or covered.

                                  I'll grant that it does seem that more earlier medieval furniture seems to be represented in art in bright colors, but as you say, I think it may be because the painters before the mid 14th century were less representational in style. It seems they liked to use colors in paintings that weren't really there in reality. (Some art had color combinations that look like they could be found on a Pakistani bus). And then there's the Bayeux tapestry...  I, personally think it's because they hadn't discovered the color "Brown"). ;)

                                   Foxworthy actually drew up some coloring schemes at one point, and we might have proposed a change order, but delivery was way overdue as it was so I stuck with the original proposal.


                                  Go for gaudy if you're going to paint it. Especially if it's "Royal". No sense going halfway, and don't spare the gold leaf! I recall pics of those thrones, and the carving just begs for gold leaf!

                                • donat0
                                  ... This taps into my pet peeve within the Society. Just because something was not documented, doesn t it didn t exist! When you rely on portraiture, as this
                                  Message 16 of 19 , May 10, 2008
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                                    > Whoa there- define "period." This is mostly true for later period,
                                    > especially North European 15th and 16th centuries. But in 13th -14th
                                    > century painting and illumination, almost everything is colored, or
                                    > hidden by cloth. Pre-13th c. the artwork is less representational and
                                    >

                                    This taps into my pet peeve within the Society. Just because something
                                    was not documented, doesn't it didn't exist!

                                    When you rely on portraiture, as this example does, you are actually
                                    looking into the very small and limited picture of very wealthy people
                                    displaying their finest. Of COURSE they would put in fine furniture
                                    with the most expensive finishes, why would they put in the utility
                                    tables they used to carry their drippy food to the dining rooms?

                                    I know this attitude of mine will make it so I will NEVER get my
                                    Pelican, or Laurel, In fact, the iconoclastic nature of my thoughts
                                    tend to annoy people. I cannot but think about how the display of garb
                                    and accessories garnered from these limited resources represent the
                                    world we are attempting to portray in a distorted manner.

                                    Only ONE person would be wearing their wedding dress to an event- if it
                                    were her wedding... not all of them. In most portraits thats what the
                                    women are wearing; special occasion dresses. The finest furniture
                                    would be kept in the parlour and jealously protected. The average
                                    medieval woodworker didn't have the equipment we do, and put in MANY
                                    more hours producing a fine piece of furniture- the finest would have
                                    been exponentially more expensive. It would be naive to think the
                                    average medieval person, traveling, didn't have strong utility
                                    furniture; perhaps of the same design, but much less detailed and of
                                    cheaper materials. The furniture would have been painted to protect
                                    them from damage. These also would not have been put in portraits and
                                    would have been discarded when they fell apart, thus leaving them
                                    undocumented. Does this mean they didn't exist? I think not.
                                  • AlbionWood
                                    Jeff Johnson wrote: don t spare the gold leaf! I recall pics of those thrones, and the carving just begs for gold leaf! That s exactly what Duke Henrik said!
                                    Message 17 of 19 , May 12, 2008
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                                      Jeff Johnson wrote:

                                      don't spare the gold leaf! I recall pics of those thrones, and the carving just begs for gold leaf!

                                      That's exactly what Duke Henrik said!

                                      Maybe next time...

                                      Colin

                                    • i_odlin
                                      ... This is a notion that gets a lot of air-time. But then, so does the patently absurd Medieval people had no refrigerators, so they used tons of spices
                                      Message 18 of 19 , May 20, 2008
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                                        > Whoa there- define "period." This is mostly true for later period,
                                        > especially North European 15th and 16th centuries. But in 13th
                                        > -14th century painting and illumination, almost everything is
                                        > colored, or hidden by cloth.

                                        This is a notion that gets a lot of 'air-time.' But then, so does the
                                        patently absurd "Medieval people had no refrigerators, so they used
                                        tons of spices to cover the taste of spoiled meat."

                                        In researching* 14th C furniture, I have found in actuality very
                                        little in the way of depictions of polychrome. Most (and I'm sorely
                                        tempted to type "nearly all") 14th (and indeed 15th) C wood furniture
                                        shown in period illuminations is bare.

                                        Either that, or the fad was to paint wood-grain over actual wood...

                                        Yes, painting furniture was known and practiced. We have ample
                                        documentation of this. But I assert it was far from the universal
                                        practice it is often made out to be.

                                        -Iain of Malagentia

                                        [* = By "researching," I do not mean I googled it for a few hours. I
                                        mean I have spent years in college and university libraries and in
                                        museums, both in front of and behind the glass, examining both
                                        facsimile and actual medieval manuscripts (to say nothing of secondary
                                        sources -- books of collections of medieval illuminations, etc),
                                        period wills and anything else I could get my (sometimes cotton
                                        gloved) hands on.]
                                      • i_odlin
                                        ... Strike the word too from the above quote and I ll agree with it. There are, however, two problems with using this as proof that most high status
                                        Message 19 of 19 , May 20, 2008
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                                          --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, julian wilson <smnco37@...> wrote:

                                          > There are too many examples of high-status medieval items made from
                                          > high-quality timber in Museums, wtih Museum-catalogue comments that
                                          > the piece shows "traces of Polychrome".

                                          Strike the word "too" from the above quote and I'll agree with it.

                                          There are, however, two problems with using this as proof that "most
                                          high status furniture was painted."

                                          (1) Often, museums only note that there is evidence of paint having
                                          been applied _at some point in the life of the piece_. Very few take
                                          or even have the time or money to try to date the paint.

                                          It is not hard (he says, looking through the average day's schedule
                                          for the Home and Garden network) to imagine a piece of bare furniture
                                          getting painted long after it was made so it might fit better with
                                          the current style.

                                          And (2) Which wooden objects survive the centuries (above-ground, at
                                          least) to end up in a museum are arguably not representative of
                                          average or common items.

                                          To grossly oversimplify: Which chair is a 'typical' 18th C dandy
                                          going to have kept? The gaudily painted one with the very out-of-
                                          fashion but still flashy gilding? Or the dingy grey plain one?

                                          -Iain of Malagentia
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