Staining Keller Shells

Badbrain87

Member
I am going to be purchasing Keller shells in sizes 22x14, 12x8 and 14x14. I want them to be black but have visible wood grain and I'm thinking of Miniwax. Does anyone have any suggestions or opinions about it? Also once I apply it I heard you are supposed to sand it and re-stain it and do this process a few times, but also would like tips/advice on this. Lastly, do I need to apply anything after like a sealer or something? Your time and opinions are appreciated.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
I've used Minwax on lots of wood (doors, trim, etc.) but not drums. My tips:

  • Every wood responds differently to stain. Some absorb more, some less. It's best to test first using wood from a lumber shop.
  • Use 0000 steel wool, not sand paper, for a super smooth finish. After 3 or 4 coats the wood will be so smooth it'll seem like satin.
  • Use Minwax varnish if you plan on sealing the finish. I don't recommend mixing brands. I believe they may have a urethane sealant as well. The sealant will affect the look of the stain, by deepening the tones a bit.
  • i recommend tung oil for the interior of the shell. It darkens dark wood a bit, but doesn't seal it. It doesn't affect light woods like maple very much.
 
T

The SunDog

Guest
RIT fabric dye! I've used it on my Keller shells. Results are excellent. You can get it in pre mixed liquid or powder form that you mix with water. Depending on how dark you want it, you will dilute it more or less, apply multiple coats, and leave the dye on the drum longer. A professional lacquer is much harder to do, nearly impossible without pro gear. I suggest Tung oil after staining for a nice, professional satin finish.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Find yourself a wipe-on stain and use a rag to wipe it on. The longer it sits on the drum the darker. Wipe it off and let it dry. Do No Sand. If it's not dark enough try another coat. After it drys you can clear it if you want. If you want the grain to show through do not put on much stain.
 

Superman

Gold Member
I've stained some cheapo kits using minwax. It took a little trial and error. I recommend multiple coats, sanding with high grit (250+) paper in between. Also multiple coats of polyurethane also sanding in between. At the end you will need a good buff to get it to shine. You can do it by hand or get a drill attachment. At the end they look like....stained drums that someone did themselves. If you are expecting them to look professional, get a different plan. Personally, I wouldn't do this to keller shells; I would either wrap them or have a professional finish them for me.
 
T

The SunDog

Guest
Keller shells are not "cheapo" drums. They are finish grade when they arrive. Do not sand the stained drum after it has dried, it will lighten the finished stain and unevenly. Polyurethane will yield less than professional results. Looks nice for sprucing up an old dresser, not so much on drums. If you want a lacquer then contract a furniture or autobody shop to spray the shells. Tung oil can be done at home, but it will be a satin. I have done this exact project except for the black color. I mixed purple and black RIT to create a dark lavender. I also mixed it in several batches ranging from a near pink to almost black and stained the drums in a burst. Stick with a solid color and use Tung oil to finish and it will be relatively easy with excellent results.
 
J

jmoose

Guest
Do you or any friends have experience with woodworking & furniture finishing? A good local paint shop, not a Home Depot can be great for materials & advice.

The process is going to depend on your desired result, then pick materials to get there. ALWAYS test on scrap material that's the same type of wood. You need to make sure that your chosen stain & sealer won't react with each other and stay sticky, not curing at worst or turn cloudy at best. Like oil based stains and poly clear don't mix.

Advice on what to do is going to depend greatly on materials but generally speaking there's no "good" reason to sand directly after staining unless the stain went on too dark and/or you want to grain fill for a smoother finish before clearing. All depending on level of gloss you can wet sand with 600 grit or higher between clear coats.

Probably my favorite "easy" finish is Birchwood Casey Tru Oil. Water based, hard finish so unlike tung oil it never needs to be reapplied. Commonly used for gun stocks but also used on lots of musical instruments, most notably Ernie Ball has been using it on guitar necks for eons. I've built a few warmoth guitars with it too... almost impossible to screw up!

Minwax wipe on poly is a good product but you really need to properly prep both the materials AND your work area to avoid weirdness. Things like high humidity and a dusty unclean environment can lead to fisheye bubbles and other blemishes.
 

mandrew

Gold Member
I would use a coating of Minwax pre-stain wood conditioner first. Maple can take stain unevenly, and the treatment helps in that regard. Minwax recommends it for maple.
 

Ron_M

Senior Member
Probably my favorite "easy" finish is Birchwood Casey Tru Oil. Water based, hard finish so unlike tung oil it never needs to be reapplied. Commonly used for gun stocks but also used on lots of musical instruments, most notably Ernie Ball has been using it on guitar necks for eons. I've built a few warmoth guitars with it too... almost impossible to screw up!
Another fan of Tru Oil. Easy to use with very good results.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
. . . Probably my favorite "easy" finish is Birchwood Casey Tru Oil. Water based, hard finish so unlike tung oil it never needs to be reapplied. Commonly used for gun stocks but also used on lots of musical instruments, most notably Ernie Ball has been using it on guitar necks for eons. I've built a few warmoth guitars with it too... almost impossible to screw up!
Wow! Looks great here.



And here's an example of the spray-can version:

 
J

jmoose

Guest
Thanks guys I will use the pre stain. I can't ting True Oil in black but it sure looks great on that guitar.

Not sure what your typo was supposed to be but Tru Oil is colorless... its just a clearcoat. You can see the basic tint in the neck pocket of the second guitar. Has a very, very slight tint but is basically clear like any finish.

To get a trans black finish you'd use a black stain - then a few coats of Tru Oil... same thing if you use Minwax products or anything else.

No matter what products you use finish sand to 220-250, wipe with naphtha, color stain, then clear coat, then buff. That's the basic process.

The thing you can't do is start mixing products... for example if you use the oil based minwax stuff then it won't bond with Tru Oil. Obviously oil & water don't mix, the finish won't ever cure and will stay tacky.

What I dig about the Tru Oil is that its extremely forgiving to work with and it also dries to a hard finish. Very scratch & dent resistant, wears great unlike tung oil which needs to be reapplied every few years. The only downside is it takes a few weeks to fully cure, but that's part of the "easy to work with" trip.

The downside to the mixwax poly stuff for a first timer is that if your work area isn't super clean, say your working in a dusty garage and a bug lands in your freshly applied coat it can be a real pain to sand out and blend back without sanding through. Same thing with drips & runs. YMMV.

FWIW I use both and not interchangeably. Minwax is a harder finish, better for kitchen tables and such. Tru Oil is thinner, open grain & breathes more which IMO is good for musical instruments where you want them to resonate.

Again ask friends or a local paint shop for advice & always test on scrap wood first! If the finish ends up not curing or has some other defect you'll have to sand it all back to bare wood and start over.

Edit - this thread from the gear page is filled with tricks & tips for Tru Oil plus examples of some really amazing work.

http://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/how-do-you-get-a-high-gloss-from-tru-oil-finish.711780/

Dig around some wood working forums, really not much difference between finishing a kitchen table or drum shells. Wood is wood.
 

WallyY

Platinum Member
I finished an old Mossberg rifle with Tru oil.

I would use it on a drum.

I've also used General Finishes poly for a finish on a set of Pearl Rhythm Travellers I veneered and it looked great.

Both of those things were different, so I wouldn't say one is superior. They both gave a great finish.

I also used tung oil on my Sonorlites when I overhauled them and the soft shine is perfect for them.

So whatever you use, be very clean and mindful and it will look great.
 
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