Sealing bearing edges with any kind of wax

gretsch-o-rama

Senior Member
Hey everybody- I had a question about protecting high end instruments and any thoughts or experiences would be helpful. I was wondering about what kind of wax would work for sealing the edges of drums. (without affecting the sound) I keep my drums in my attic which fluctuates widely from season to season. I make efforts to keep the climate in control(like ac and insulation) but still my high end drums are exposed to more extremes than Id like them to be....

I had the idea of sealing the top and bottom edges with any kind of wax to keep them from any kind of warping or damage. My logic being that moisture would be able to enter (or leave) through the seperation of plies on the edges. I kinda got the idea from the Gretsch factory video where they explain they do this when wet sanding. So, has anyone ever done this? Is my theory sound? What kind of was would I use? Would was affect the way they sound? Thanks Jason with winter approaching
 

Beam Me Up Scotty

Silver Member
I know some people like to apply wax to the bearing edges in order to maximize shell contact with the head, but I have never heard of wax being used to "seal the edges" in such a way as you're describing.

Hopefully someone more knowledgeable on the subject can chime in here.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
At Guru, we always wax our bearing edges. Although our edges are already sealed with shellac, we wax partially to maximise sealing, but mainly to aid the head moving smoothly over the edge during tensioning. We usually apply about 3 coats of wax, each coat then buffed off before applying the next. The build up of wax in terms of thickness is minimal if applied as described, & it dries to a nice hard finish. We also finish our shells in the same way.

We use a brand called Briwax, a blend of beeswax & carnauba. I'm not aware of any adverse sonic affects, & trust me, we'd know if there were ;)

Wax on it's own is not a total guarantee against the ingression of moisture, but should do a good enough job of preventing excess ingression. For a more permanent barrier, apply shellac first, but you will need some hand skills to get that right, as it requires light sanding between coats to remove any raised grain, & care in application to ensure minimal build up.

All this said, most modern multiple ply shells are fairly moisture resistant by virtue of the number of glue barriers. Only in extreme circumstances would an issue such as de-lamination occur. Of course, the real answer is, keep your drums in an environment more conducive to housing musical instruments :)
 

Otto

Platinum Member
hey Andy,

Does GURU suggest re-waxing after several head replacements?...or do you find it unneccesary?
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
hey Andy,

Does GURU suggest re-waxing after several head replacements?...or do you find it unneccesary?
Not necessary really. On our shells, we recommend a new application of wax only if the finish lustre is diminished (depending on use & environmental conditions), & then only as part of a general instrument service. Applying wax & buffing to a fine finish can't hurt though, so long as there's not too much build up. When we wax, we buff virtually all the wax off again. It just fills in any micro indentations, & improves the surface finish every time.
 

gretsch-o-rama

Senior Member
Wow! Spoken like a true artisan! I like people that are dedicated and passionate about what they do. I know a few. Do you have any idea what would be an applicable, common wax would be for this? I live in the states(and don't think you do). New York in fact.

As far as housing for instruments, this is really the best I can do, unfortunately...
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Agree about maiking the edges smoother for tuning, but not necessarily for any sealing properties. Howard's Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish & Conditioner is ideal and easy to find, $6 or 7 buys a lifetime supply.

Bermuda
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
In an 80's Ludwig Cat. they showed a lady using paraffin wax on the bearing edges (same stuff you use for canning foods). I used it on my 80's Yamaha's. I too had my drums in my attic for 25+YR. You could see your breath in the winter. Was over 110 sometimes in the summer. I still have the Yamys. No problems.
 

AZStickman

Senior Member
" Do you have any idea what would be an applicable, common wax would be for this? I live in the states(and don't think you do). New York in fact. "

The Briwax Andy references is sold in the states. I have been using it on wood working projects for years...... Terry
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
Paraffin wax is sold in grocery stores. It cames in blocks, and is hard like a candle. I think it's the same thing skate boarders use.
 

gretsch-o-rama

Senior Member
Ok thanks everyone. I think Im going to try the Briwax. This is directed at Keep it simple, is there any precaution I should take when using this? It says it has toulene? I just don't want to mess up my drums. Thanks Jason
 
X

XplosiveDrummer

Guest
dang, must of missed it X... have you tried it yet?
No problem. I thought about it at one point while looking at the Drum Dial, Tension Watch, Bot etc. I came across it at one point but decided against it. My drums never leave the house, the air is quite dry around here and the temp stays in normal ranges through out the year so I don't really need it. Plus the edges, even for this X7 maple kit, are pretty much flawless so I don't really need to "seal" them up. It may be a good idea for those that travel with drums and subject them to extreme conditions year around.

On thing that would interest me about it is the idea of creating a tight seal against the edge and head when seating the head and tuning it up but I'm not sure how much of a difference it would make. I would also think you would need a fair amount on there to "glue" the head down when the head comes into contact with the wax and edge. Plus I don't know how messy that wax stuff would be with the first application and over time. Like how much dirt it would collect and what ever else you can think of.
 

v.zarate

Gold Member
No problem. I thought about it at one point while looking at the Drum Dial, Tension Watch, Bot etc. I came across it at one point but decided against it. My drums never leave the house, the air is quite dry around here and the temp stays in normal ranges through out the year so I don't really need it. Plus the edges, even for this X7 maple kit, are pretty much flawless so I don't really need to "seal" them up. It may be a good idea for those that travel with drums and subject them to extreme conditions year around.

On thing that would interest me about it is the idea of creating a tight seal against the edge and head when seating the head and tuning it up but I'm not sure how much of a difference it would make. I would also think you would need a fair amount on there to "glue" the head down when the head comes into contact with the wax and edge. Plus I don't know how messy that wax stuff would be with the first application and over time. Like how much dirt it would collect and what ever else you can think of.
mmm... i see. i recently sanded the inside of some tama drums, clear coated them and painted all the screws. i lightly sanded the bearing edges and left those raw. im may try the conditioner out on them
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
Paraffin, when applied in a thorough manner, is an excellent wood sealer. In tests published in Primitive Archer magazine (if memory serves correctly) paraffin actually provided a seal that was superior to shellac, polyurethane, and lacquer-type finishes on handmade bows, even when totally submerged in water. They applied it by heating the surface with a blow dryer and melting the wax into the wood. FWIW.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Ok thanks everyone. I think Im going to try the Briwax. This is directed at Keep it simple, is there any precaution I should take when using this? It says it has toulene? I just don't want to mess up my drums. Thanks Jason
We've never had an issue with Briwax. It's designed for wood, including high end furniture. It applies really well, soaks into the wood readily rather than sitting on the surface, & buffs to a hard finish.

On thing that would interest me about it is the idea of creating a tight seal against the edge and head when seating the head and tuning it up but I'm not sure how much of a difference it would make. I would also think you would need a fair amount on there to "glue" the head down when the head comes into contact with the wax and edge. Plus I don't know how messy that wax stuff would be with the first application and over time. Like how much dirt it would collect and what ever else you can think of.
We don't use wax to "glue" the head to the edge. Doing so would be counter productive to the drum's performance. The amount of wax left on the edges is minute, & dries to a hard shiny finish. The only sealing action it has with relation to the heads is filling in any tiny indentations that naturally occur in wood, especially if end grain is exposed. When we apply the wax, it's buffed off again within moments.

Paraffin, when applied in a thorough manner, is an excellent wood sealer. In tests published in Primitive Archer magazine (if memory serves correctly) paraffin actually provided a seal that was superior to shellac, polyurethane, and lacquer-type finishes on handmade bows, even when totally submerged in water. They applied it by heating the surface with a blow dryer and melting the wax into the wood. FWIW.
As a moisture seal, paraffin wax is indeed superior to beeswax, but we have no experience with it. As I pointed out earlier in this thread, we don't wax the edges to seal them. Our primary aim is to provide a superior hard finish so the head moves freely over the peak, especially during tuning. The additional moisture sealing property is more of a side benefit to us, as we already use shellac as the primary seal.

Most ply drum manufacturers don't bother sealing their edges at all. Frankly, in most applications, it's not necessary, but a superior finish will benefit the bearing edge performance on any drum shell construction.
 
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