This section is from the book "Mission Furniture: How To Make It", by Henry Haven Windsor. Also available from Amazon: Mission Furniture: How to Make It.
Darkened oak always has a better appearance when fumed with ammonia. This process is rather a difficult one, as it requires an airtight case, but the description herewith given may be entered into with as large a case as the builder cares to construct.
Oak articles can be treated in a case made from a tin biscuit box, or any other metal receptacle of good proportions, provided it is airtight. The oak to be fumed is arranged in the box so the fumes will entirely surround the piece; the article may be propped up with small sticks, or suspended by a string. The chief point is to see that no part of the wood is covered up and that all surfaces are exposed to the fumes. A saucer of ammonia is placed in the bottom of the box, the lid or cover closed, and all joints sealed up by pasting heavy brown paper over them. Any leakage will be detected if the nose is placed near the tin and farther application of the paper will stop the holes. A hole may be cut in the cover and a piece of glass fitted in, taking care to have all the edges closed. The process may be watched through the glass and the article removed when the oak is fumed to the desired shade. Wood stained in this manner should not be French polished or varnished, but waxed.
The process of waxing is simple: Cut some bees-wax into fine shreds and place them in a small pot or jar. Pour in a little turpentine, and set aside for half a day, giving it an occasional stir. The wax must be thoroughly dissolved and then more turpentine added until the preparation has the consistency of a thick cream. This can be applied to the wood with a rag and afterward brushed up with a stiff brush.