Drummer Talk 261 – All About Bearing Edges (Part 2)

Dave and Troy bring part 2 of our series on bearing edges by focusing on how to cut your own!

Drummer Talk Mailbag

From Chris
Dave & Troy,

I loved the episode on bearing edges. Between that and the refinishing podcasts, it’s making me want to dust off my old basswood Sonor Force 2001’s and refinish them. The toms are 12×10, 13×11 and 16×16. That seems really deep compared to the kits I’ve been playing on recently. Can you touch on how tom depth and bearing edge variations work together to produce certain sounds?

Also, the drums have a flat black lacquer finish I’m not crazy about. Would I be able to varnish over that or do anything to bring some life to the physical appearance?




Topic Notes


6 Part process

  1. Rough cut the shells
    • Using a caliper measure the thickness of your drum shell ( Use a digital caliper )
    • Set your router in the routing table and raise the bit height to ? of that measurement from below
    • Flush the shell against the bit so that it’s touching the blade and measure the distance between the blade and the bearing
    • repeat steps until you have the gap between the shell and the blade that you want
    • Lock your router and plug it in. Cut outside edge first: slowly ease on and off the bit using a clockwise motion. Cut inside edge next: slowly ease on and off the bit using counter clockwise motion.
  2. True the shells
    • Take a lumber crayon, and color the flat part of your edge, all the way around the shell.
    • Start sanding that edge of the shell until you see no more markings from your crayon.
    • Do this to both edges of the shell
    • check the evenness of the shell you may have to sand more or you may have to go back to the router and recut the edges again, then use the truing table to get that consistent flatness.
  3. Cut the inside
    • Set the height of the router bit to fit the inner edge profile you are trying to attain
    • Route inside of one drum shell, and determine if you need a bigger cut. to cut more material you must raise your router bit height.)
    • Once you have a desirable inside edge on your first shell, cut all the inside edges on all your drums
    • Adjust router bit slightly higher for thicker shells ( bass drums ) and cut the inside edge.
  4. Cut the outside
    • If your shells are finished or have a wrap – use ¾ inch blue painters tape around the outside of the shells ( clean your router bit with tweezers after each shell – make sure your router is turned off when you do it )
    • Set the height of the router bit for the outside edge profile you are trying to attain. In most cases, this will either be a very small cut (since we rough cut the outside edge already), or just slightly bigger than the rough cut edge.
    • Route outside of one drum shell, and determine if you need a bigger cut
    • Once you have a desirable outside edge on your first shell, cut all the outside edges on all of your drums including thick shells.
    • Adjust router bit slightly higher for thicker shells, and cut comparable outside edge to complete the bearing edge profile you desire.
  5. Match bass drum hoops
    • Cut inner edge of one side of both of your bass drum hoops.
    • Determine whether your bass drum claws have a rounded hook, or a flat style hook on them.
    • If flat is needed, leave the hoop as is. If round use a roundover bit
  6. Final finishing
    • Hand file bearing edge at wrap overlap (if you have drum wrap overlaps) making sure there are no sharp edges
    • Hand sand the inside edge, outside edge, and the apex of the drum with 320 grit sandpaper to finish the wood.

Music from this week’s Show:

In closing…

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