HOW TO REMOVE PAINT FROM A DRUM SHELL

williamsbclontz

Silver Member
I am wondering what the most effective way to remove the paint from a drum shell is. I have a Yamaha bass drum that I would like to remove the paint on. The paint is scratched and not in the best condition and to match another kit I already have I would really like to have a natural wood finish for the shell. The drum isn't cheap, so I would like to keep the shell in good shape and not jeopardize the quality in any way hopefully. I have heard of some people using paint thinners and paint removers, but would that possibly ruin the glue in the shell? I have also heard of people sanding the shells but what are some techniques I could use to make sure I don't over sand in some places and do the best job I can. I know there are other threads related to this so if there are any really good ones you could send me to I'd appreciate that as well.
 

loach71

Senior Member
Check out Youtube for instructional videos on hand sanding of fine wood!

If you are a n00bie at sanding fine wood, please avoid the use of electric sanders. A momentary lack of attention can ruin the drum shell. Use hand sanding methods, start out with 120 grit sandpaper. Use a piece of semi-rigid polyurethane foam to act as a sanding board that conforms to the curve of the drum shell. With the sandpaper held on the the poly foam, move the sandpaper ONLY in the direction of the wood grain. Doing otherwise will result in crossgrain scratches that will make the shell look very bad. After you are finished with the 120 grit sanding session, wipe the shell with a tack rag that you buy at the hardware store. Throw away the used tack rag.

Repeat the above procedure with 220 grit paper, 300 grit paper and then 600 grit paper. This should give you a good base from which to dye the shell and apply a clear top coat.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
First, you'll need to determine what "paint" you are dealing with (poly, acrylic, latex, lacquer).

But in general you'll do less damage with the proper chemical stripper than you would by mechanically (sanding) the paint off. Thinners shouldn't bother the glues (unless you were to leave them on for days). methylene chloride strippers (which are probably the best for most paints) usually recommend rinsing with water and that could be a problem. I'd rinse with lacquer thinner.
 

mpthomson

Senior Member
In the UK, something called Nitromors, a chemical stripper. Much less chance of causing damage than sanding, although it's a fairly nasty chemical.

Follow dboomers advice re rinsing.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
First is it paint or stain? If it is stain it will be deep into the wood and basically there to stay unless you want to paint over it. What is your end goal after removing the paint?
 

williamsbclontz

Silver Member
The paint is a thin lacquer, sorry I didn't clarify that before. The end goal I am hoping to achieve is to just have a natural wood finish so all I really need to do is remove the paint that is on the shell, I probably won't even put a clear coat on afterwards. In my mind it seems like that wouldn't do anything negative to the sound of the drum but I'm not sure. Sanding sounds like it might be the direction I go but I'm still open for suggestion.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
The paint is a thin lacquer, sorry I didn't clarify that before. The end goal I am hoping to achieve is to just have a natural wood finish so all I really need to do is remove the paint that is on the shell, I probably won't even put a clear coat on afterwards. In my mind it seems like that wouldn't do anything negative to the sound of the drum but I'm not sure. Sanding sounds like it might be the direction I go but I'm still open for suggestion.
Being in the midst of a drum refinish project myself, and having a bit of woodworking experience under my belt, I believe it is easier to mess up the shell with a sander than with stripper. Stripper on the surface won't harm the glue at all. You will likely still want to sand with a fine grit after stripping, anyway.

As for sanding off the existing lacquer by hand, that may be a huge ordeal, depending on the finish itself. I've tried to remove finishes sanding by hand before that simply would have taken months, I think. You can always try an area and see, though.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
Would a heat gun work?
Funny, I used a heat gun to help remove the wrap on my Silverstars, and I was more worried about THAT damaging the glue than the stripper I used on the adhesive residue. It was just a worry, though. Nothing came unlaminated. I didn't get the shell itself real hot, though.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
The paint is a thin lacquer.
Lacquer is very easy to strip with the proper chemical strippers compared to poly or acrylic. Lacquer strippers are very easy on the wood and you rinse with lacquer thinner, also very easy on the wood. They will remove the finish right down to the wood in whatever condition the wood was when it was first finished. No sanding (which is a branding off the wood) will be necessary.

But you need to get specific lacquer stripper and NOT paint stripper.
 
Top