Hero
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
SpeedNinja

Complete refinish (lacquer)

15 posts in this topic

I'm going to assume DiehardDIYer might have the most experience with this here, but I'm sure someone else may have tried.  I'll try to keep this short.

Problem: I have some lacquer finish drums that don't match. (Similar: I have another set that isn't my favorite color.)  I would like them all to match.

Options:
1) Wrap them
2) refinish (stain) them (dark green)
3) Sell them and buy a set in the right color

Responses:
1) I've thought about it.  It would be easier, and probably cheaper.  I wouldn't be satisfied when I finished.
2) This is ideal, but there are some foreseeable problems. (below)
3) I have an experimental/emotional attachment to these drums.  While they are functional, they are also a tool for learning and expanding my skills.

Decision made: I'm staining them a different color.  Logically, I will have to sand down the existing finish and get to bare wood.  I have heard of issues with this where the original lacquer and/or stain is deep into the shell.  Either the stain would show through, or the lacquer would prevent the wood from absorbing a different stain, leaving spots.  My approach to getting around this is to find a veneer I like and glue that on, then stain the veneer and have the shells sprayed with clear lacquer professionally (or learn how to do that too).  I am not exactly sure how to go about applying that veneer, at least the fine detail parts of it.  I could have it done, but I'd like to learn and potentially save some money.  (Learn on a curved surface?!  Great idea, idiot.)  At this point, I'm not even sure what wood grain I'd like to use, but looking through some samples for a few hours will probably solve that problem.

So that's where I toss the idea your way?  Is slapping on a veneer and staining that the best way to go?  Is there an alternate method?  What should I look out for or what tools/materials should I acquire to install a veneer?  And how exactly should I go about doing this?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Wraps are pretty cool. So much to choose from today.

2. You said they don't match but, didn't mention their color(s). Lacquer tends to sit more on top of wood than go into it, like Tung oil. You would have a more difficult time sanding stain away and not going through your outer ply, depending on the color stain/dye. I'm guessing dye if it's a color.

3. Most people never tackle such a project and don't realize they can, for all intents and purposes, have a new set when such a project is finished.

Veneer is not difficult. Tricky maybe, but not beyond moderate skill levels, if you use a good veneer, like BFV from Oakwood. BFV is Bubble Free Veneer. I've used it for 20 years. Good stuff.

Finishing is the difficult part. It's one of the reasons I have used tung oil for years. Goes on easily with a good sponge brush; tack it up with a hair dryer. Sand, and do as many coats as you like. Lacquer is a pita no matter how you apply it, especially having to address the weather. Humidity can really mess up application layers of lacquer.

Most of the companies use modern chemical finishes. I don't have the spraying equipment. Regardless, if you want a mirror finish, expect to put in a lot of time and attention to, literally, almost microscopic details.

You can think about an auto finishing place for that. A a fine woodworking/furniture shop if one is around.

I believe the best place to go for help on DIY is PD Good's site.

pdgood.us/drumshed

All the advice and instruction you need, from both diy's and pro builders.

I'll help any way I can.

If you go veneer, get your dimensions of your drums and square inches and lay out each piece on quadrant paper, the equivalent of a 48x96 sheet of veener. Oakwood also has larger sizes in many woods but, not all.  Laying out each piece will show you both how much veneer you'll need and how to cut it. Veneer cuts easily with scissors or a razor. Contact cement of one grade or another is used. Some say stay away from using J rollers but, I use them and they work fine. Some use vacuum bag set ups (expensive). Some use blocks of wood or plastic to scrape the veneer to seal it tight. Whatever you feel the most comfortable doing. The trickiest thing is getting the seams right.

Because veneer wants to keep its natural shape, I always run wood grain up and down instead of around the drum lengthwise. But, either way.

Be careful of what color veneer you pick if you are dying your shells. The lighter the wood species, like Sycamore, the better your green will look. Veneers on the yellow side are okay because Green works on them. Water-based dyes are fun to use. A little denatured alcohol added for faster drying and it's good. Any shade of green you can imagine is mixable. You just have to experiment a little.

Anyway, ask any questions and I'll help out. Do check out Good's site, too.

Check out the PD Good site. See what you think.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I've been looking at wraps for years now.  I don't like them.  It's just not what I want for my set.  The closest thing I'd to to a wrap now is an outer ply, maybe inner too, of carbon fiber.  But that would be closer to a veneer than a wrap since I don't want to go the vinyl route again.  You are right, though.  There are tons of cool wraps.  I've been trying to convince myself to do it, but I know there would be regret once it's done.

Two are natural (transparent), one is sunburst (opaque).  I'm not done collecting for this set, but there are other transparent and opaque lacquer finishes that were available.  I'm really only interested in one more tom (which may be purchased shortly).  If a 13" snare pops up for a decent price, I'd think about it.  If not, I have plenty of snares I don't use. (EDIT: The extra tom is listed as "rustic fade."  I haven't looked up the actual color name, but it's a transparent stain.)

I'll look at PD Good more in depth when I get home.  Thanks for that resource!

Thanks for the tips.  I wanted to go with the wood grain up and down visually anyway, so that should help me out with forming it.  I know there's a lot of different woods that would look killer, but not be green friendly for various reasons.  I'll find something though.  I'll pick up some quadrant paper once I can get the drums stripped down.  I use them on occasion now, but I'll get my other kit set up in there soon.

 

On the seams, do you usually cut the veneer so there's a vertical seam?  Or do you go with an angle, like most plies are cut now?  I'm sure there are benefits and drawbacks to both.

This may be reaching into the realm of trouble but... What do you think about a veneer on the inside of the shell?  I'm not sure if I'd want to stain it or find something natural that compliments the green.  I should mention that I like things to be fully finished.  It bothers me that drums are somewhat raw on the insides. (I know some vintage stuff was finished)  It's not just drums.  Lots of different products in various industries have corners cut in production.

I'll probably have some questions on veneer installation when I get closer to doing it.  I'll let you know.

Edited by SpeedNinja
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

New idea: Finish fixing the damaged drums I have set aside and converted to cat furniture, and attempt a veneer on those first.  The cat doesn't care what they look like.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/2/2017 at 1:42 PM, SpeedNinja said:

On the seams, do you usually cut the veneer so there's a vertical seam?  Or do you go with an angle, like most plies are cut now?  I'm sure there are benefits and drawbacks to both.

This may be reaching into the realm of trouble but... What do you think about a veneer on the inside of the shell?  I'm not sure if I'd want to stain it or find something natural that compliments the green.  I should mention that I like things to be fully finished.  It bothers me that drums are somewhat raw on the insides. (I know some vintage stuff was finished)  It's not just drums.  Lots of different products in various industries have corners cut in production.

Vertical is much easier. I always line up the seam at the center of the lugs just to hide it a little more.  An outside veneer has no effect on shell integrity. It's totally cosmetic. For all intents and purposes, it's a wrap. For that matter, you can get custom wood wrap in any color. They look pretty good, too.

I have veneered the inside of shells. I had a mongrel set made up of ebay purchases, mostly low end drums. Different interior plies. I did the outside and inside in a nice mahogany. They came out good, though placing a veneer inside is really tricky. You have to stand up lots of sticks to make sure nothing contacts until placement is sure as you go around, removing the sticks as you go. 

I wanted to make a set and place a ebony veneer on the interior. Never did it though.

In my experience, I'd be careful about finishing the inside of the shells. It's sketchy. Too much and you can get a strange. annoying, pingy-type  sound, especially floor toms. Assuming all your drums are Mapex, you would know what they have done to finish the inside of their shells. Generally, on raw shells, I use a coat of tung oil and that's it. I do it to keep sound waves from absorbing quickly into the shells but, you also don't want too hard an interior surface or the "ping" can develop. You can achieve a very nice interior by scraping the inside of the shells. Takes some time but, the results can be worth it. No finish necessary, or the lightest of a finish. Ford drums scraped their shells. They made really nice drums. They may still, idk. They never caught on in the boutique industry.

I can almost guarantee you sunburst is a dyed finish and sanding it off will be impossible without removing the veneer. You're talking about a 40th of an inch or less on most exterior veneers on plywood shells.  Color will easily penetrate that. So, covering the drums is your only option.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know the veneer wouldn't add any strength.  I was more curious if it's common to cut it at an angle to make it appear original to a modern shell, or not.  Ultimately it doesn't really matter, but it might be a more stealthy modification with an angle.  I have looked into the "stained wood" wraps before.  It would look convincing but I would know it's fake, and I'd be spending a lot of money to not build any skills or learn anything.  I'd say it's a viable backup plan in case I mangle the veneer installation.

I have gotten that ringy or pingy sound you mentioned from probably too much tung oil on my old Rockstar kit.  I tuned up a little and it went away.  That didn't bother me since the final note was still lower than before doing the oil.  It could have been due to the full length lugs resonating more as well.

On 8/6/2017 at 1:41 AM, DiehardDIYer said:

Assuming all your drums are Mapex, you would know what they have done to finish the inside of their shells.

Yeah, Meridian Maple for all of them.  The cat furniture is a mid-1980s Pearl Export tom with a stab wound, and I think a Sound Percussion 10-lug bass that was dropped on a lug, cracking the shell.  The Pearl actually has that weird Jackson Pollock splatter paint "art" looking finish on the inside.  I think they did that for humidity reasons  The rest are all unfinished.  I may try an interior veneer on that bass drum (cats like olive wood) first before I decide on the Meridians.  I may just tung oil all 15 (kill me) of the Meridians like I've done my past few drum sets.

As for the sunburst finish, I know it's cracked off under one of the lugs.  I don't know which one, but the guy who cut it down for me said it happened and it was covered up.  I didn't mind since I was experimenting with the sound and the finish didn't matter to me.  I could spend some time to figure out how the finish was done, but it's pretty much a waste of time until I have to strip the drum.  I'm looking to do a veneer anyway, so that really shouldn't matter.  But I will remember to post what I find just so we all have a reference on how these particular drums are finished.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't say I have ever seen veneer with a diagonal cut before, unless the veneer, itself, was put on diagonally. I've seen DW drums done that way. Looks interesting but, for my money, a lot of veneer is wasted that way. Normally, running the grain vertically, a straight seam is the best to keep grain patterns looking correct. A diagonal seam would really show. I just like it as invisible as possible. It wouldn't show as much running the grain horizontally around the shell. 

Veneering gets expensive today. Like everything else prices have gone up and if you use exotic veneers, and need two sheets, or more, depending on the number and sizes of shells, and you're looking at $6-$10 a sq' or more; add in finish products and it adds up quick. Plus, you want to do the shell interiors. Yikes. Even a nice domestic veneer will drain your wallet quick on a project like that.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see what you're saying about the additional issues with cutting diagonal, on top of getting it to line up.  Straight cut sounds like the way to go.

I'm still undecided on the interiors.  I'll have to try it on one of the test drums first to see if I have the patience to do it properly.

Any choice is going to be expensive.  I'd rather go with the better finish.  A wrap is a backup plan for me.  Even then, I might just paint them a solid color I like before a wrap.
I just picked up another cheap shell pack that I want to try another method/finish on.  It will cost more than the finish wood veneer idea, and that's just for the raw finish material.  If I can pull it off, it's going to look ridiculously good.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You mentioned that interior finish from Mapex. Ludwig used to put this finish inside concert toms that was, for all intents and purposes, Rustoleum Multi-colored Textured spray paint. I always wondered what that would look like on a drum exterior. Back then Ludwig had a blue and white mix. The stone-look colors Rustoleum has today look pretty cool on things I've used it on, like planters.

I've always had a nostalgia feeling for flame wraps. Delmar has some really gorgeous stuff that drum companies nor DIY merchants have yet to offer. I guess because Delmar makes so many different things it cannot possibly all be stocked or offered.

Not trying to push wraps or anything. Just began thinking about that spray Ludwig used to use. Hideous stuff as I recall. Slingerland may have used it as well back then.

I've always played large sets and I always wanted to make a set of multi-woods, from light to dark, around the kit. Like figured Sycamore for a smallest tom down to Ebony for the largest floor tom. I'd have to travel to Michigan, to Oakwood's place to pick up scraps, though. It would be a king's ransom to get full sheets for just small pieces for each wood.

Placing veneer on a shell is pretty easy, though. Put a square line down the shell, suspend the shell off the ground higher than the length of your veneer piece, line up the veneer with your scribe line and slowly affix the veneer. Just in case I go a little crooked I always allow for a half inch of extra veneer on each side. Trimming is easy with an exacto knife or any razor blade. It is trickier when you already have bearing edges. You have to be more careful.

When I put tongue oil on, I generally end up using 8-12 coats to see my reflection as detailed as suits me. I am not one to bother with mirror finishes. They just don't last by the time dust, falling drum keys or sticks, pets, children, etc., etc, take their toll. Some of the newer products out there are tougher but, like I said, I've never had the spray set-up, nor buffing tools to use it. They look nice brand new. It doesn't last though. Micro scratches start as soon as you dust your drums. Personally, I'd rather see the actually grain character of each wood and not worry about mirrors. I've never particularly cared for satin finishes but, they are a lot easier to do than high gloss, that's for sure.

I remember reading Sonor places 1/2" of water on the floor of the spraying room to keep dust down to nothing. Trying for mirror finishes is a real hassle because of dust in the air, etc.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm definitely going for a high gloss finish after the stain.  Yes, that probably means going to an automotive shop if I haven't gotten enough tools/skills to do it myself.  I don't like a textured wood grain finish on drums, and some other things.  I think it looks half-assed and unfinished, on top of collecting a lot more dust in a lot less time.  It depends on the object you're finishing.  Sometimes a little grain looks neat.  I've had several high gloss finished objects and it's always lasted.  And forget dusting, micro-scratches start when you touch a highly polished finish, even metal.

Having water in the room does help with dust, by not allowing ti to leave the floor.  It also traps over spray.  Everything that's still floating in the air can still get in your paint.  The newer automotive paint booths have filtered water running below the floor, with fans to draw everything downward into the water.  Dealing with contaminants is part of the painting process.  It happens every time, no matter the set up.

Yeah, getting the veneer on straight is going to be a pain with edges already cut.  I've had that fun with wraps before too.  I'll find a more patient helper for this project.

3 hours ago, DiehardDIYer said:

You mentioned that interior finish from Mapex.

Pearl.  It's ugly as hell.  My high school had a Ludwig kit with the "Jackson Pollock" interior finish.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, no. My bad. When I put veneer on the piece is always longer than needed and I leave off the glue on that last inch.

You wrap the drum. When you come around your first seam piece is down and how to finish with the second?

I use a razor and straight edge. Remember i mentioned I leave extra on both sides of the shell, especially if bearing edges are already cut? That extra length with no glue? Cut just a little off each side so you can see the veneer line underneath. Line up your straight edge on that line, clamp it to keep it secure, carefully slice, and the second seam piece should line up perfectly with the first seam piece. If you glue your actually length correctly everything will adhere and no glue will touch anywhere it shouldn't.

Another way is to glue the entire length but, put some painter's masking tape over seam one once it's down. Then when you wrap around the extra length of veneer, even though glued, will not touch anything when you line up and cut it off. You would do the same thing veneering the inside of the shell.

It's really pretty simple to do.

As far as mirror finishes. It's the time. You have probably watched videos on youtube of how people do it. They'll use one of the newer chemical finishes you find out there that you won't find at home depot or lowes. They spray it on. Do their sanding from 220 dry to 1200 grit wet. Even 1600. Some do more than that. Then put the buffing agent on and put the shell to the buffing wheel. The shell shines like the sun. From there it is all soft cotton gloves for handling because bearing edges come (in your case they will already be on each drum). Then drilling (in your case already done. matter of fact remember to cover all those holes inside when you glue up). Then final assembly.

Yeah, I have seen my rough hands totally screw up the mirror finish on copper. Even cars. Not me but, I know it has happened to people with their beloved autos.

Some of the newer chemical finishes resist scratching. Nothing is scratch proof and unless you are going to put your drums in a glass case just to look at, for me, if I want that mirror finish I might as well find a wrap I like which have protective layers. Even then, nothing is scratch proof. I like wood grain, though. I used to hate wood grain when I was young. When I got older, especially when I began making my own drums and found out about more than maple and birch, I really swung the other way. I did wrap a big set in this iridescent white pearl that was very attractive. Had a changing look as you walked around the set. Otherwise, it's always wood. 

I have seen finishes that are gorgeous, liquid looking. Somehow that reminds me of a wood coffee table with a sheet of glass on top. Just not my thing, I guess.

You can do the finishing. You can get the mirror finish with anything. It's just the time and patience it takes. I have the patience. I just don't care to take the time and then see it messed up anyway. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get what you mean there, but thanks for clarifying.  By edges I meant the bearing edges.  Which I guess would be the sides of a wrap/veneer rather than the ends.

I'm really not seeing your apprehension to a high gloss finish, durability wise.  I have it on my current drums, and I've had it on older drums.  I've also had wraps.  If you're careless, both scratch just as easy.  If you pay attention to what you're doing, a gloss finish stays perfectly fine.  Either way I always try to keep a wax on them, always transport them in bags/cases, and limit who else is allowed to touch them.  Typically, my wrapped sets sustained more damage because I was less careful.  Small scratches buff out on both, but it's easier on a lacquer finish.  Big accidents like nicks and dropping things happen on both and aren't really fixable on either without some heavy amounts of work.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want to make sure I clarify and say there is a difference between a high gloss finish and a mirror finish. Every set I have made has had a high gloss finish, just not a mirror finish. Any decently applied gloss finish will reflect an image to greater or lesser degrees depending on coats and sanding grits. The work that goes into a mirror high gloss finish and the risks of that finish are what keep me from bothering with the time it takes, each time I have veneered a set.

I have never had a wrap that dented when a drum key dropped on it, or other such drumming mishaps. Lacquer, on the other hand, definitely. Modern gloss finishes have chemicals in them that harden better and resist that kind of thing. My understanding is, that is why all the companies left off using lacquer. Much more difficult to work with and not as hardy. Of course, wraps are multi-layered affairs and the manufacturers are always coming up with more scratch-resistant layers.

The demise of a high gloss mirror finish really does depend on the owner, as you say. On the other hand, piano black will not look as good as the high gloss finish on a wood, for obvious reasons, as time passes. Same might be said for solid color wraps versus sparkles, pearls and all the rest. The scuff, nicks, and scratches get camouflaged.  And color comes into play, as well.

Most jobbing drummers leave their good stuff home and use the lower end stuff for gigging, save for the major endorsed players, of course. Why take the risk? Like you said, you have to guard against all the possible mishaps.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There seems to be a wide range of "shine" for each description of high gloss, gloss, mirror, high gloss mirror or whatever description I can find, and some of it depends on the chemical composition of the finish being applied, apparently.  To clarify (pun not intended) what I'm going for, I'll say I want to match the quality of the factory finish currently on the drums, just in a different color.  Whatever you call it, whatever the technical name is, whatever random people on the internet call it, that's what I'm going for.  I will probably end up using automotive grade products since I'll have to buy the compressor, guns and clear for other automotive related projects. (Or I'll take it to a body shop.)  Most of the newer automotive paints and clear coats are water based.  I might even do a ceramic coat after all that is done.

I don't know if I'll gig this kit.  Maybe I will, maybe I won't.  Maybe I will until my other one is finished, or maybe I'll take it out on occasion.  I'll have bags/cases and I'll be the only one touching them, so I'm not worried about it.  The other kit I'm hoping to play out more will have a much harder surface, with an automotive clear over that.

19 hours ago, DiehardDIYer said:

I have never had a wrap that dented when a drum key dropped on it, or other such drumming mishaps.

I have bought wrapped sets with damage like this, and have seen it happen to other people.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To me, mirror is mirror - perfect finish, no defects, whatever reflects in it, reflects like a mirror, save for the obvious curvature of the drum. Anything less than that is high gloss and reflections will be there but, a little fuzzy in nature. I have a Mapex M tom in some kind of Amber dye or stain with  a high gloss finish. Nice reflection but, not a mirror finish. Most drums out there are high gloss to one degree or another. High end kits by the manufacturers will generally have mirror finishes or very close. Some companies may go the extra mile for mirror finishes on lower level drums but, most have very nice high gloss finishes. The custom makers go the extra mile for their stuff, generally speaking.

To me, this is what raises the price of a drum, not the shell material, because of the extra time it takes to get those high end finishes. Lugs may be better quality, too, of course, and that raises the price - thicker walls, perfect chrome plating, etc. 

Most wraps are mirror finishes simply because their outer layers are manufactured that way, like new clear mylar heads are mirror.

Maybe some day I'll make a small set and go for the mirror. Wet sand with super fine grits and all, just to see if I can do it to my satisfaction with less than modern materials. If you are going with the spray equipment and all, you should be able to do a really great finish. I think the final buffing compounds make a big difference with micro scratch removers and all.

Tools make the job. Never had them so, I don't stress. I see details in my face clearly and I'm happy.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0