Coloring Chairs with Ammonia Fumes

Chairs in a tent with ammonia fumes.

The chairs are being exposed to ammonia fumes, a traditional way of coloring white oak. The tannin in the wood reacts with the ammonia and chemically changes the color of the wood. Arts and Crafts furniture was often darkened in this manner. I will keep them in the tent for about 3 hours and check their progress then. Ammonia is a pretty nasty chemical, so I try to take precautions against exposure. In the past, I have used a 26% ammonia solution. This time, I am using a 10% solution. We’ll see how the chairs turn out in a few hours.

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