Fuming Cherry?

With the long weekend going on I've had some time to finish some of those projects scattered all over the shop. Had so many, I couldn't remember which ones were glued up and which were still dry fitted! Anyhow, several were mission pieces i decided to fume. In between taking one piece out of the tent and adding another i just grabbed a piece of cherry to cover the bowl of ammonia. The cherry covered the bowl for about 12 hrs. or so. When i removed the board, i found a perfect circle of deep reddish brown color that is just beautiful. I wiped some BLO on half of the board to reveal a great warm finish that shimmers in the light. Last night, i put a few more test pieces of cherry in the tent with another mission piece. So far, the oak looks great, but the cherry has just turned an ugly pale color. I've also just finished making the vinyard table featured in this months FWW ( http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/pages/bw0003.asp ) out of cherry and would love to try fuming this thing if it will take the same color of my cherry bowl cover. I just used "janitorial grade" ammonia , cuz that's all i could find in this town so far. Would a stiffer concentrate help much? I've DAGS with no real good info about this. Has anyone had success fuming cherry? I know it doesn't have the tannins that oak does, but it sure will darken very nicely under the right conditions. I'm just not ready to stuff the whole table in the tent to end up with an ugly pale table in the end. I'm really looking foward to powering down the big iron, letting the dust settle, grabbing a cold one(s) and putting the finish on a few peices tonight. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, --dave
P.S. I dropped my old Bosch 1587 Jig saw on the shop floor the other day and broke the foot. I wasn't to upset by this, as it was getting pretty ragged after 4 years of hard use and was going to be the next tool to be retired. Dropped by the BORG and grabbed the Bosch 1590 yesterday. After playing with it for a while, it's proved to be quite an upgrade to the 1587, and I'd guess other manufactures will soon be copying it's design just as they did on the 1587. Everything is tooless. I wasn't to fond of the knob used to change the blade on the 1587 and it wore out after a couple of years use. The 1590 just has a lever you slide and the blade ejects out. The foot is adjusted easily by pulling a lever and setting the angle you want and locking it back down. Simplicity. The "precision control" is merely a set of guides (sort of like band saw guides just on a smaller scale and not adjustable) I found this is not 100% effective at preventing blade runout, but definately an improvement worth adding. The manual says the guides are for straight cutting, but i cut the long oval for the vinyard table top with the guides engaged. Worked like a dream. If a smaller circle is cut using the guides, they automatically disengage. The saw also has about a 12 foot cord which is real nice! If you currently have the 1587, i wouldn't just toss it and go out to buy the 1590, but if you need a replacement or new JS the 1590 is worth the extra $30 above the 1587. --dave
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...snip

'fraid this is one area where Bosch is the follower, not the leader. Milwaukee has the tool-less blade changing feature for a while. It is very handy.

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You might also try using a solution of water with sodium hydroxide (e.g. Red Devil Lye). This is also supposed to darken cherry. Be very careful with lye, as it can cause nasty burns if it gets on your skin. Always add the lye slowly to the water, as the addition will cause a significant heat release. I wonder if using a less alkaline agent, such as sodium carbonate, would work? It's available as PH + for pools.
-Peter
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I put a piece in a solution of 50% sodium hydroxide. Took less than a second to darken!. More dilute I'm sure you'd have better control. Take precaustions as it can burn.
http://www.octavia.net/9thclife/Lye.htm http://www.epa.gov/grtlakes/seahome/housewaste/house/lye.htm You can even make your own: http://journeytoforever.org/biodiesel_ashlye.html Ed
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Fumed cherry is one of my all time favorites. I'm thinking the bowl cover was subjected to a much stronger fuming concentration than the test pieces in the tent. I'd recommend looking for the more concentrated 24%-28% ammonia.
When I fume cherry, I use 26% (or 28%) that I picked up years ago at a blueprint shop. Even at that concentration, I generally leave the fuming process to do it's thing for at least 12 hours and sometimes up to 18 hours. For your more dilute solution, you may have to let it go for 2 or 3 days. Test on some of the same scrap from the table to find the right time. Also, the cherry does look grayed and pale-ish when removed from the tent, but comes alive when an oil finish is applied - so judge the time test results after a finish coat.
The lye suggestion works too. Go with a pretty dilute solution, wipe it on and then neutralize it - I believe dilute lemon juice works. It may take several applications to get the color you're looking for, but it does work to darken cherry. The major drawback to this method is that the water solution will raise the grain which will need to be cut back after the process.
To paraphrase Paully Rad, "Test, test, test - or you'll be sorry."
--
Owen Lowe and his Fly-by-Night Copper Company
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