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Finishing with Ammonia...

I recently read in a book about using ammonia fumes to darken oak, giving it a more natural aged look. Has anyone ever done this before, and with any wood other than oak? I would like to give it a try, but am curious if it looks as aged as this author made it seem it does.

I have not personally done this, but seen it done on you tube and it seems to do a great job.

I found this on a search


I went to youtube and put in a search for "ammonia wood" and this was the first one in the list.  Pretty cool.

Thanks for the link. I'm thinking I might give it a try.


I have done this twice before with white oak, it works pretty well.  I followed the directions given in "Twenty Decorative Carving Projects in Period Styles," by S. Bisco.  If your piece isn't too large, you can just use a large plastic storage container and a bowl of ammonia.  I have two notes of to pass along from my experience.  First, if your piece consists of wood from different trees, the pieces might not "age" at the same rate.  This can be a little frustrating if they are to be assembled into a piece of furniture.  Second, I had to keep the pieces in the container much longer than the book stated.  Maybe I was using weak ammonia, maybe the shop was cold; I don't know.  Just a heads up.


I have never attempted this with any other wood.  I know the process involves the ammonia reacting with the tannins in the wood, so I would assume that only on woods with tannins would this process be possible.  (Do all woods have tannins?  I have no idea.)

Good Luck,


Thanks for the info Micah...I read about that from the same book. I've yet to try it, and I'm glad you mentioned that about using wood from 2 different trees. I'll keep that in mind!

the ammonia will darken lots of woods.  I use it on violin bridges (maple) and box wood pegs, when not using ebony,  and on muzzel loader gunstocks ( curly maple).  use a wide shallow bowl for the ammonia,  on larger pieces make a tent of plastic bag's etc. to fume in.  ALWAYS test some off cuts or scrap pieces to see how they darken and if you like it before submitting your prize carving to it.  I would also recomend putting what ever finnish your going to use on the test pcs. after the fuming, as it can change the tone of color from the fuming.  (Swiss Pfeill chisel handles antique nicely this way) then rubbed down with walnut oil. Remove them from the blades first!!