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Veneering drum shells. Any help out there?

Veneering drum shells. Any help out there?



I plan on veneering some naked maple drum shells. I would like to use a nice quilted maple veneer and then stain it somewhere between rosewood and walnut in finish.

the radius of the drums will be 18 inches, 13 inches, and 10 inches.

1 – of the several thickness veneers offered by Oakwood, which would work best ? [ in terms of ease of application on a curved surface, durability, stainability and longevity ]

2 – what is the strongest adhesive i can / should use ?

3- is there a particular adhesive that is strong and lasts yet gives a little ‘play’ for adjustments when i first apply the veneer ?

4 – what is the best method to make sure the veneer is very tight around the drums ? what special clamps / devices / methods might i use ?

5 – any tips or if anyone has done similar veneer applications to round objects, please help me out….i dont wanna screw up : ) !

any websites you can reccomend for application hints or adhesive products would be greatly appreciated. staining tips or instructions are also very appreciated….

this is all somewhat new to me…..drum wise.

peace, alecmtn

Answer from leforic:

I’ve been designing and building custom drums for several years. For some of my kits, I use exotic wood veneers from Oakwood and have had great success. I’ll attempt to give you answers to your questions based on my experience.

1. – I use the standard 10mil veneer for drums and I have had NO bubble or de-lamination problems. Stay away from brittle woods and some burls, they do not have the bend radius to go on a 8″ or 10″ tom without cracking.

2. – Strongest adhesive is not what you are looking for here. Typically, working drummers move their drums around a lot. As a result, they can be in a hot trailer during transit. I suggest you use a contact cement like 3M’s NP-30. It is not brittle like an epoxy and will allow the drum to expand and contract without breaking the veneer bondline.

3. – Contact cement is contact cement….not much forgiveness.

4. – I designed a jig to do this but you can easily place a 2×2 or similar through the tom to act as a spindle for the tom to rotate around while you apply the veneer. Use a square, make a scribe line on the tom so you get things lined up right and just rotate the tom as you lay the veneer down on it. Afterwards, roll the tom across a carpeted work bench to apply pressure on the veneer. You need to consider how you are going to handle the seam. Will you have an overlap seam or butt seam? We butt seam everything and we have a very precise method for getting the seams perfect. I have some 1×1 oak strips that I clamp across the entire seam and leave it clamped for 24 hours. Once you get the lugs and hoops on, there not much chance of the veneer popping loose…the seam is the only thing that can really cause you problems. Also, make sure you lay it out so that the seam will be directly under your lugs. It’s less noticeable there and gives you less chance of having a seam pop loose.

5. – Ok…you mentioned radius…what you gave was diameter, not radius. Here is your formula for calculating the length of veneer needed for each drum. Diameter x 3.14 = exact length of veneer needed. Add an inch or two depending on how you plan to handle the seam. Example: 10″ tom would be 10×3.14=31.4 inches + whatever you feel you need to add for scrap factor. Just so you know, a 10″ diameter drum has a radius of 5″. Radius is half of the diameter.

Also, cut the width of the veneer a bit wider than needed so that when you start out, it overlaps a bit on each side. This way, if you get off a little bit when you start, you’ve got some wiggle room. You can always trim the excess off very easily after the fact.

Last thing….use an awl to open the holes for your lugs, vent, etc. and start from the outside of the shell. Always start the hole with an awl, you can always enlarge it with a rat tail file or something like that. Do not use a drill bit!!! Drill bits can splinter your new veneer and make you cuss like a sailor. Ok, maybe something here will help you.

Good Luck!!!

Follow-up from alecmtn:

Dear Sir. I am also interested in placing veneer on drum shells. that was all great advice. Do you concur that it must be a 10 mil paper backed product? Also, I would like to use a variety of Burl Veneers. Do you see a problem with all of them or do some work better than others. I will use the same adhesive as one would use applying a plastic wrap. All things considered, it was a good lesson and I thank you. Alecmtn

Follow up from leforic:

I’ve had great success with the 10 mil paperbacked veneer from Oakwood. I’m sure the BFV would be great as well. As far as Burls are concerned, they are very brittle and do not bend as easily as regular veneers. You may be able to steam it in order to increase its bend radius but getting it on an 8-10" diameter tom tom might be tough.

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