SM LONDON

SIGNATURE FINISH

FUMED OAK / SMOKED OAK

GUSTAV STICKLEY

“When a man’s home is born out of his heart and developed through his labor and perfected through his sense of beauty, it is the very cornerstone of life ”

 

Fuming, or “smoking,” wood (predominantly oak species) is a process that involves exposing the wood to ammonia gas, which reacts with the tannins. Tannins are complex chemical substances stored in plants and wood that help trees ward off fungal and bacterial infections. The ammonia reacts with the tannins in a way that brings out darker, gray-brown tones of the wood. This process is highly variable, as the tannin composition and content varies across different oak species and even individual oak trees. Fuming works best on white oak species, due to the high tannin content of the wood.

The fumed wood look soon became popular in the Arts and Crafts movement in Europe and was popularised in North America by Gustav Stickley, a furniture-maker and forerunner of the American craftsman style. This process is prized for the ability to retain the grain pattern, and at times, pronounce it, creating an attractive cerused look.

THE FUMED OAK PROCESS

The wood to be fumed is placed in a sealed chamber with all the surfaces to be fumed exposed to freely circulating air. A large shallow container of ammonium hydroxide solution is placed on the floor of the chamber and the chamber is sealed. If the chamber is large or the fuming is to be done for a long time, more than one container may be provided, or the ammonia may be replenished during the process. The fuming time depends on the amount of darkening required, the size of the chamber, and the strength of the ammonia used. It is usual to oil the wood after fuming to fully bring out the effect.

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