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Stickley, Gustav, 1858-1942. / Craftsman homes

Cabinet work for home workers and students who wish to learn the fundamental principles of construction,   pp. 169-184

Page 175

  The work of construction must all
be done before the wood is given its
final  finish; but in   this connection
we     will  outline  briefly the  best
method     of  finishing  oak, as  the
sturdy wooden quality of the furni-
ture depends entirely upon the ability
of the worker to treat the wood so
that   there is  little evidence of an
applied finish.  Oak should be ripen-
ed as the old mahogany was ripened
by oil and     sunshine,  and  this can
be done only by a process that, with-
out altering or disguising the nature
of the wood, gives it the appearance
of having been mellowed by age and
use.    This process is merely fuming
with ammonia, which has a certain
affinity  with  the   tannic acid  that
exists in the wood, and it is the only
one known to us that acts upon the
glossy hard rays as well as the softer
parts of the wood, coloring all to-
gether in an even tone so that the
figure is marked only by its difference in
texture.  This result is not so good when
stains are used instead of fuming, as stain-
ing leaves the soft part of the wood dark
and the markings light and prominent.
   The fuming is not an especially difficult
process, Ĺ’but it requires a good deal of care,
for the piece must be put into an air-tight
box or closet, on the floor of which has been
placed shallow  dishes containing aqua am-
monia (26 per cent).    The length of time
required to fume oak to a good color depends
largely upon the tightness of the compart-
ment,   but as a   rule forty-eight hours is
enough.   When fuming is not practicable, as
in the case of a piece too large for any avail-
able compartment or one that is built into the
room, a fairly good result may be obtained
by applying the strong ammonia directly to
the wood with a sponge or brush.   In either
case the wood must be in its natural con-
dition when treated, as any previous applica-
tion of oil or stain would keep the ammonia
from taking effect. After the wood so treat-
ed is thoroughly dry from the first applica-
tion it should be sandpapered carefully with
fine sandpaper, then a second coat of ammo-
nia  applied, followed by a  second careful
   Some pieces fume much darker than others,
according to the amount of tannin left free
to attract the ammonia after the wood has
I 75

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