Drummer Talk 254 – Drum Kit Makeover Part 3: Refinishing

We dive into refinishing on part 3 of our series on drum kit makeovers!!

Opening Detritus

Drummer Talk Mailbag

From Rich:

Thank you Dave and Troy!

I’m totally geeking out on the refinishing series. I’ve been contemplating building an exotic wood kit from Keller shells so can’t wait for the show on veneering. Recovering my current (cheap Guitar Center Sound Percussion) kit, however, may be more realistic. I’ve replaced everything but the hardware, tung oiled the interior, and cleaned up the bearing edges. While not as punchy as I would like, my drum teacher is amazed at the sound quality. Dave jokes about Wal-mart contact paper, but before these shows I actually considered putting 3M carbon fiber automotive vinyl over the existing wrap. After listening to the re-wrapping show, I found that Bum Wrap Drum Company has some beautiful exotic wood wraps. Re-wrapping my current kit would certainly be easier than veneering new shells, but I don’t think I could ever get over the psychological hurdle of knowing that I’m playing crappy shells. I’d love your thoughts.


From Chris:

Dave and Troy, I love the podcast. It helps get me through the work week. In the past, Troy has mentioned music companies are always looking for technology specialists. Can you touch on ways to seek out these opportunities and maybe list off top music companies that are out there? From what I have seen, many companies are held by larger organizations and jobs may be posted under a different company than expected. I’d love to do something involving music, but have not been able to find anything in the Missouri area. Any ideas? Thanks! Chris

From Dan:

Greetings gentlemen. First off, if this podcast ever went off the air there’d be a void in my life that would, sadly, remain unfulfilled. So, do me (and drummers worldwide) the favour of keeping on doing what you’re doing! OK, enough butt-kissing… I just finished listening to and thoroughly enjoying episode 252. One thing that made me go “what the heck…” was the comment about how Ludwig replacement parts are so ubiquitous. This may be true with the exception of the P-85 strainer. I’ve called/emailed every drum part company I can find and no one makes a 2.5″ hole spaced aftermarket strainer. All of the P-85 style options won’t fit Ludwig’s spacing. I have an LM402 and an Acrolite and it drives me nuts that it’s not drum key operable. When you said they’ve been using this design for 60 years I believe it. If they would only get with the program every other drum company figured out 30+ years ago I (and many others) quit b****ing about it. I love Ludwig snares, but for the price they charge it’s frankly idiotic that they continue to use Phillips head screws instead of drum key screws. Rant over, thanks for reading.


Topic Notes

Places To buy Materials

Pre production – Remove all hardware, badges and vent holes

Staining your Drums

  • 2 easy types of stain
    WATER OR ALCOHOL? -Water based dyes are best when used over a raw shell.. like a keller shell for example. If you are staining a drum shell with an exotic veneer over it… you do not want to use water. Alcohol based dyes work great on unfinished, raw drum shells however they also work great on sealed drum shells and veneered drum shells.
  • 3 stages of staining
    • 1. Prepare the wood
    • 2. Mix the stain
    • 3. Stain the wood
    • 4. Optional seal in the wood
  • Water based stain – Very easy to mix and apply – Long work time
  • Alcohol based stain – Very easy to mix and apply- slightly shorter work time

Water Based Dye

  1. Sand with the grain of the drum, using 220 grit attached sanding block. Wipe the surface of the drum with a shop towel to remove the dust. Wipe a damp shop towel over the surface of the drum shell and let the drum dry for 30 minutes. Sand with 320 grit paper..sand the drum evenly then wipe clean with a shop towel. Prep inside of shell and bearing edge if necessary.
  2. Mix dye: The amount of water and dye needed varies according to drum quantity and how vibrant you want the color. -I recommend starting with 20 oz. to be safe. -Add drops of dye and stir the solution. Test the color on scrap wood.
  3. Wipe the dye into the drum with a sponge. An old CLEAN cotton T-shirt works well too. -Apply the dye evenly over the entire surface. -Run the sponge to the edge of the drum, but not over the bearing edge. The vaseline on the bearing edge will repel the dye, but can be smeared onto other areas of the drum if you’re not careful. -Allow the drum to dry to the touch before re-coating. Re-coat until happy with the color.

Alcohol Based dyes

  1. Sand the drum with 220 grit paper, and wipe clean with a shop towel. -Prep the inside of the shells. You do not have to add water to the surface of the shell as we did for our H20 based dye.
  2. Mix my dyes with denatured alcohol. -Recall the mixing steps from the water based section. (The only other thing different in my mixing, besides the denatured alcohol, is that I’m using two different dyes together)
  3. Apply the dye with a sponge or t-shirt. -After the first coat is dry to the touch, sand the drum with 320 grit paper. This is called a “sandback” and is great for figured or interesting looking woods. -Follow up with multiple coats of dye untill you are happy

Finishing your stained drums

  • Using Tung oil
    • Put the finish in a plastic container.
    • Rub the tung oil into the drum with a cotton rag for a first coat.  Make sure that this coat is light and you’re not using too much tung oil.
    • Drying time is going to vary according to weather conditions. so simply allow the drum to dry until it no longer looks and feels tacky.
    • Re-apply tung oil. When you get to coat three, start laying the finish on a little thicker than coats 1 and 2.
    • I recommend Building the sheen up with a minimum of four coats, and let the final coat sit overnight. (Sometimes I will do 6 to 10 coats)
    • To attain a satin look, knock the tung oil sheen down with 0000# steel wool.
    • Just like sanding a drum shells, you want to work in the direction of the grain and thoroughly smooth the entire drum With moderate pressure.
    • Rub lemon oil into the drum with a cotton t-shirt to recoup some sheen.
    • Remove the foil and tape from the inside of the drum and Let the drums sit overnight before moving onto lug layout and drilling.
  • Shoot with Hi Gloss Lacquer

Music from this week’s Show:

In closing…

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Next week: Drum Kit Makeover Part 4: Veneers

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