Drum Finishing

StaggerLee

Silver Member
Hey people, I am making my own drum kit, and I have everything sorted aside from one thing, the finish. Now if it were up to me I wouldn't do anything and leave it as it is as my ludwig was unfinished inside and no damage was done so what was the point, I love it's natural colour. But my fiance thinks their is a reason for them being lacquered or protected. So I was wondering:
1) Do you HAVE to do something to coat the drums?
2) Is their an alternative to lacquering? I know it's really toxic....
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
You can use polyurethane, wax, linseed oil, I have seen shells stained with tea and then cleared. I would use something to keep the dirt and moisture out. Totally naked wood is going to accumulate oil from your fingers, hands etc. You may want to peruse, www.ghostnote.net the drum builders site for ideas.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
Wood that is left untreated/unfinished is much more likely to absorb moisture.which can result in warping or delamination.There's also protection from dirt, and just the act of touching your drums,will leave oil/fluids and latent fingerprints on the unprotected wood surface,that can't be easily cleaned..There are methods of protecting the wood and still having a "natural" finish.

There are "satin" stains and urathanes/lacquers that will dry non glossy and look natural in appearence.

By the way.....the finish on your drums IS up to you,but in this case,your fiance is 100% correct.If you're getting married,get used to the idea of always being wrong.:)

Steve B
 
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Soupy

Silver Member
The simple solution would be to use a water based clear like Minwax Polycrylic, which cleans up with water, is low-VOC, and easily found at home improvement stores.
 

rockonmu

Junior Member
You could also use tung oil, lemon oil, or Butchers wax. I used the Butchers wax on the inside shells of a set of white wrapped pearl exports that I reclaimed from someone's garage. You put it on like car wax. You can put on several coats. I have also used the latex Polyurathane to finish some homemade cajon's! That also worked well and looked more like a Laquered finish than the Butchers was did. Good luck in you project!
 

sonnygrabber

Senior Member
Speaking from experience, I lacquered the interior of my drums with a gloss polyurethane not only to protect them but to make them louder and brighter. If that is what you want then I recommend it.

There are those that would argue that lacquering takes away some of the wood's natural properties and tones. I agree with this as my experience certainly follows this line of thought. I have shells made of luan or Phillipine Mahogany which is a fairly soft wood that theoretically creates a lower fundimental note. Perhaps it does but I found that in the bands that I'm in it wasn't the sound I needed. I needed more projection, and lacquering has given me just that.

Oiling and waxing do not cause this to happen as you are not putting a hard, reflective coating on the shell. You are just protecting them from the elements.

As far as the exteriors are concerned I put many layers of 'danish organ oil' on them as I like a natural matte finish. Not the most durable solution but my drums are always cased when not being played and I do like to be very hands on with working on them.

Good luck!
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Hey people, I am making my own drum kit, and I have everything sorted aside from one thing, the finish.
That alone puts you way ahead of most builders ;) Tell me that was true once you've completed the project.

1) Do you HAVE to do something to coat the drums?
2) Is their an alternative to lacquering? I know it's really toxic....
There's many alternatives to lacquering, but few that are so permanent. We finish in carnauba wax when we want a deep lustre that enhances the natural finish without changing the colour palate in any way. For a matte finish on shells we use a hardening oil process that unfortunately, I can't divulge the precise nature of. Any oil (teak oil, etc) will offer protection. It's drawn into the wood, & forms a nice barrier against undesirable changes in humidity, although it does require replenishment from time to time.

In answer to your question 1/, you don't have to protect the wood, but you'd be silly if you didn't. Some constructions are more stable/resilient than others, but all still benefit from protection & care.
 
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