Bearing Edge Dressing

jodgey4

Silver Member
Hey guys, it's been many months since I've posted on here, I know. I ran across this today while thinking about getting a Breakbeats kit, and thought I'd share it. Perhaps it's already been posted (I searched and found nothing), but I figured it would be a great resource for my friends over here :).

On a review for the Breakbeats kit on Amazon, I saw this review and there's a great section on how to care for bearing edges. http://www.amazon.com/gp/review/R1PTHTFWLJB5FS/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt_btn?ASIN=B00DS9A442

"Dressing Bearing Edges
The single most effective thing you can do [in my experience] is to dress the bearing edges. Tools and materials are 320 grit sandpaper and a dressing compound. 320 grit sandpaper is sufficiently fine to polish the edges while removing any tiny rough spots. The dressing compound I prefer is a Carnauba wax bar.

Step 1 is to lightly go over the bearing edges with the 320 grit sandpaper. The operative word here is lightly. You want to remove any minute high spots and polish the edges, not do any major surgery. I fold the paper over the edge, taking care to not touch the outside finish or wrap, and lightly follow the circumference of the shell. Be sure to follow the contour of the snare beds too. You should feel a very slight resistance when you begin. In fact, you can hear a slight scratchy noise. As you proceed and make an entire pass the resistance will diminish, as will the scratchy sound. Once the resistance and scratchy sound are gone, you are ready for the next step - wiping the dust off the edges. A clean cloth with a touch of denatured alcohol works well.

The final step is to dress the edges. If you opt for a varnish dressing per J.R. Frondelli's approach, use a clean cloth and wipe on a very small amount on the edges and let dry. If you opt for the wax (be it the Carnauba wax bar or paste wax), lightly apply the wax and buff it out. For this step I use Meguiar's X2020 Supreme Shine Microfiber. Reassemble the drum, tune it up and I believe you will be treated to a discernible difference in sound.

Coating the Shell Interior
This approach, along with dressing the bearing edges, will give you the most bang for your buck, but is more time consuming than dressing the bearing edges. I have found that coating the shell interior is the key to dramatic improvement in the sound of the snare drum that ships with the Catalina Club Jazz kit (as well as the other drums I mentioned above.) It does give the snare drum a more focused sound, and makes it a bit more sensitive as well. Note: If you elect to perform this step, do it before dressing the bearing edges.

What you will need:

3M 2090 Scotch-Blue Painter's Masking Tape
Shellac (I use Bulls Eye Shellac)
WD-40
Clean piece of cotton muslin or other lint free cloth

Here are the steps:

Remove all hardware from the snare drum (lugs, throwofd and butt)
Using the 3M 2090 Scotch-Blue Painter's Masking Tape, mask off of the holes on the exterior side of the shell, and the bearing edges.
Apply the shellac to the interior of the shell. Do not flood the wood with shellac. I lightly dip the muslin into the shellac that has been shaken per manufacturer instructions, then apply it in a circular motion until I have the interior completely coated. One coat will work, but I usually let the shellac dry for a day, and repeat the process until I have three coats.
While you are waiting for the shellac to dry take the time to lightly spray WD-40 on the moving parts in the strainer, as well as the tension rod threads. Don't over do it - a little WD-40 goes a long way, and you do not want to reassemble the snare drum with dripping parts.
After the shellac has dried, remove the tape, reattach the lugs, throwoff and butt, and perform the bearing edge dressing step."

All credit to the reviewer, and I hope this helps some of you guys out. I figured this good be a great thread to discuss bearing edge care.

Anyways, it's good to pop my head back in. How many kits has Bo been through recently?
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Welcome back! :)

That's a good bit of general care/refresh advice, but there are cautions to add from my POV. The bearing edge care bit assumes the edges are level in the first place. With some drums, & that absolutely includes new drums, the edges are anything but straight (this is much more common than you'd think).

Instead of 320 or finer grit paper, I advocate the use of fine wire wool if the intention is only to clean the edge up. Especially if you're not used to doing this, fine wire wool is likely to remove much less material & therefore reduce the chances of screwing up. The rough feel on the edges that the author describes is because edge finishing on budget drums is pretty much non existent. Essentially, you're completing the job that should have been done anyhow.

Caution on applying shellac to the inside of a shell. 1st up, if it's a new drum, you'll likely void your warranty. Applying shellac to the inside of a Catalina & similar shells will brighten the sound. That's fine if you want that, & IMO does offer an improvement on these soft wood budget snares, but doing the same thing to a higher quality snare may not produce the results you're seeking.
 

jodgey4

Silver Member
Thanks, I've been following Guru and you're doing absolutely killer stuff, great work! (is that veiled marketing?)... I'm sure you've been bringing tons of valuable info here that I need to pull up and read.

Drum care, sanding edges, and shellacing interiors seems to come up every so often, so I thought this could be a cool place to see what methods people used. I'd probably only wax the edges, out of curiosity, and nothing more. I might do a full treatment if I got the snare, just to see what happens. What spawned all this is me more of fantasizing about being able to play again - and a small kit could help with that along with some other events around me.

Wool is a much better choice IMHO, good call on that. It helps pick up dust better too.
 

drumhammerer

Silver Member
I shellac the insides of pretty much all the drums I make. It doesn't really make a huge difference in sound to my ears, but it is always with keller maple shells, so maybe other woods would be affected more. It did make a ten ply snare I made quite a bit ringier, which you certainly don't want with the Asian maple shells, which tend to be a bit ringier than the North American maple, as well as brighter.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks, I've been following Guru and you're doing absolutely killer stuff, great work! (is that veiled marketing?)... I'm sure you've been bringing tons of valuable info here that I need to pull up and read.
i'm putting up a workshop video tomorrow :)

I shellac the insides of pretty much all the drums I make. It doesn't really make a huge difference in sound to my ears, but it is always with keller maple shells, so maybe other woods would be affected more. It did make a ten ply snare I made quite a bit ringier, which you certainly don't want with the Asian maple shells, which tend to be a bit ringier than the North American maple, as well as brighter.
Lots of variables, but overall, a shellac application will brighten the resolved sound & enhance transient high overtones (an affect usually not welcome, & must therefore be negated in the overall design concept).
 

Michaelocalypse

Senior Member
Good info. I have some shells that I hope to cut down and modify soon. I got a stick of the Drum Dial Bearing Edge Conditioner. I figured it was worth trying.

I've done tung oil on the interior of some lower end Asian wood shells, and a maple shell. It cut down on the ring and lowered the findamental note of the drum. I used 0000 steel wool for this before applying the tung oil (and obviously dusting too). I'd say this is a must-do for anyone with basswood/Phillippine mahogany/luan type drum shells. It makes the wood grain pop too.
 

jodgey4

Silver Member
Tung oil sounds right down my alley... especially for a cheap snare to help get a real nice, dead, 'schwack'. That's a sound I don't have in my arsenal right now unless I muffle something so much there's no volume left.
 

STXBob

Gold Member
I have also experienced a slight deadening of tone from oiling the interior of my poplar shells. Not a thuddy "schwack" by any stretch. I think it made a detectable difference, though I have no way of proving it. My wife, who has an excellent ear, couldn't tell. But then, it's not like I had a proper "control" sound; I was asking her to compare the 10" tom vs the 12" tom.

Anyway.

I used teak oil, because the store was out of tung oil.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Adding oil to the interior of unsealed open/absorbent woods such as poplar adds mass to the shell. On a ply drum, no matter how much oil you apply, it will only penetrate to the transition between the first & second ply. That added mass is enough to reduce the resonant profile of the drum slightly, but candidly, on such drums, the difference is negligible. Adding copious quantities of oil to a thin solid shell drum will make a bigger difference if the overall design concept of the drum is low mass.
 
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